|Franklin Morales was in for a tough matchup on Sunday.|
The Rockies sent Franklin Morales to the mound in an effort to win the series in Atlanta. He was facing Braves right-hander Julio Teheran. The simple reality is that the pitching matchup alone was enough for Rockies fans to plan a different activity for their Sunday afternoon than watching the Rockies predictably struggle.
A 7-0 lose suggests exactly what most fans thought would happen. The reality is, the Rockies still can't overcome their road issues. They might be a better team away from Coors Field than they have been in years past, but their momentum, particularly at the plate, acts like a helium balloon that got away from the person filling it up.
The fact that the Rockies bats were going to struggle, especially against a pitcher like Teheran, meant that Morales was going to have to pitch as well as he has all season, just for the Rockies to have a chance. When Morales gave up a solo home run to Evan Gattis in the top of the 2nd, the worrying began for Rockies fans, when he hit his second home run of the day with a runner on base in the 4th inning, it was time to find something else to do to occupy a Sunday afternoon.
The Rockies are hampered by whatever it is the causes them to struggle on the road. It seems to have left the front office of the club dumb-founded, as they have reportedly done study after study to try and figure out why the team leaves Coors Field and can't find their stride. At one point the front office suggested that playing at Coors Field is a huge disadvantage for the Rockies because things are so different when they go on the road.
The mindset clearly seems to be something that factors into the problem. The Rockies came out on Sunday looking half-beaten before they took the field. It is almost as if they looked at the pitching matchup and figured that tomorrow might be a better day, went through the motions, and hopped on a plane to Philadelphia.
Of course, there are always going to be games like Sunday. The Rockies aren't the only team that is going to fall flat in certain games away from their home park. However, it seems to happen all too frequently to the Rockies.
While the pitching matchup wasn't favorable, the reality is, the Rockies had a chance to get a big series win against a very good team in their own backyard. They had a chance to start off a very important nine-game road trip on the right foot, winning two-of-the-first-three and heading into Philadelphia with their best three pitchers on the mound. Instead, they gave one away.
Part of the problem for the Rockies throughout their history might be that it is simply too hard to flip a switch and turn the momentum back on after a game like Sunday's. It seems like they concede one game, then when it is time to get things going again the next day, it doesn't happen as quickly.
Winning in baseball requires mental toughness. Through 162 games there are going to be ups-and-downs. For the Rockies, who go from the altitude to sea level and back all season long, the mental toughness probably needs to be turned up even a few more notches than other teams. Instead, the Rockies find themselves turning it down a few notches, and suddenly the club can't find a way to win on the road. One giveaway game leads to a bad series, which leads to a bad road trip, which, in the end, gets in the team's heads and makes them think that they can't win on the road.
The reality is, despite a terrible performance on Sunday, the Rockies have a very good opportunity to win a series in Philadelphia. If there is a team who has less momentum coming into their game on Monday than the Rockies, it is the Phillies, who were handed not only a shutout of their own, but failed to log a hit on Sunday, falling victim to Josh Beckett's first career no-hitter.
Couple that with the Rockies three best starting pitchers taking the mound and this really gives the Rockies their best opportunity to win a series on this road trip. Winning Monday would also give them a great chance to get things back to even on the road trip and not let things spiral out of control.
The road has been a tough place for the Rockies since their first pitch was thrown. However, if they want to win, it can no longer be an excuse. It has to be something that they figure out. They don't have to be great on the road, but they have to be able to hold their own. If they can't do that, they will never be a true threat. They have to overcome the mental hurdle that has become long road trips.
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