Colorado’s 10-game winning streak has come from nothing other than great all-around baseball. The pitching has pulled through, the hitting has been spectacular and the defense has been as good as ever for the Rockies.
Here’s an around-the-horn breakdown of the Rockies recent 10-game success: Todd Helton drilled his 300th homerun in a 13-0 win against Florida; Colorado swept the Dodgers in their next three with great pitching by Jeff Francis (10 Ks), a walk-off homerun by Helton in extra innings and big hitting by Brad Hawpe; the Rox then moved on to a three-game sweep of the Padres with a game-winning homerun in extra innings by Hawpe and another gem of a pitching performance by Francis; earlier this week the Rockies took the first two in Los Angeles by simply finding a way to win when faced with adversity.
On Wednesday, Josh Fogg pitched effectively up until the sixth inning, when he walked three consecutive hitters to load the bases. Manager Clint Hurdle stuck to his guns, giving Fogg the opportunity to get himself out of the jam. Four pitches later (three off-speed and one high fastball), Fogg got the huge strikeout, leaving the Dodgers’ hitter swinging at nothing but thick L.A. air. The Rox went on to win the game, 2-0.
It can be said (likely for the first time) that Colorado’s relief pitching is reliable, if not understated. They have an ERA of 2.68 over the past 10 games.
The unfortunate thing about the Rockies’ Wednesday night win is the fact that the Padres and the Phillies also won, meaning the Rox didn’t gain any ground. Right now the Rockies are tied with the Phillies for second place in the National League Wildcard race and are one game behind San Diego. Tonight the Rockies will return to Blake Street to take on the NL West Division leading Diamondbacks, who are two games ahead of the Rockies in the division. As of Thursday morning, Arizona is in a slump, losing their last three. Francis (17-8) is expected to start on the mound this evening with Mark Redman (1-4) and Ubaldo Jimenez (4-4) expected to start Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Last Wednesday, MLB officials released the procedure for settling the wildcard berth if a three-way tie occurs among the Rockies, Padres and Phillies. Because the Rockies finished best in the three-way head-to-head season series with Philadelphia and San Diego, they control the decision.
The Rockies could elect to have the Phillies and Padres play, then travel to meet the winner. Or they could choose to play a tie-breaking game and, if they win, host the Padres or the Phillies. If the Rox decide to play, the Phillies will choose whether to play the Rockies or play against the winner of the Rockies-Padres matchup.
For me, I wish it was July. This kind of play earlier in the season would have solidified their playoff hopes. I think Rox Manager Hurdle would agree with me on that – he would probably also agree that 20-20 hindsight is a damn waste of time.
If the Rockies fail to make the playoffs (hope I don’t jinx them by saying that), their one redeeming action would be to field the same team next season. The Rockies are not a bling-bling team. They are blue collar and hard working – and from what I have seen in the last 10 wins, each and every player really likes to play their individual parts to supply a team win. They somehow realize they don’t have to be stars every night, they just need to win.
If they do make it into the playoffs, more than likely the Rockies will be playing the struggling Mets sometime next week. Postseason foes will be on the lookout for the Rox; the only other team to play as since the all-star break is the Yankees, who clinched their playoff birth on Wednesday.