It is not time yet to abandon all hope, Rockies fans. In three days, perhaps.
An 8-0 win to save face in a series in San Francisco that may (or may not) have exposed the Rockies as playoff pretenders keeps the team technically still with an outside shot, but Colorado can hardly afford to lose another series for the rest of 2007. In fact, they can barely allow for even a single loss more. Look at their schedule down the stretch, though, and you can't completely discount it.
We'll have a much better idea about the Rockies once this next series in Phoenix is completed. The Diamondbacks are terrible. They are. I'm sorry. The Cardinals last year were lucky; this team is in league with Satan. Their hitting is terrible. Their rotation is an unfunny joke after Brandon Webb. Even their bullpen doesn't have the peripherals to support its overwhelming performance. I have been intending for months now to write a column exposing them, but I hardly know where to begin. It's all right there in front of anyone who cares to look at the statistics. In a historically weak National League, this Arizona team is having a historically fluky season.
The trouble is, they will be genuinely better next year. Chris Young is going to bring his average up. Carlos Quentin is going to be a good 'un. The Rockies have the dominant offense in the NL West this season, but their strategy of outscoring their opponents hasn't been anywhere near as efficient as Arizona's strategy of... um... having a good defense and going on fluky winning streaks all the time. And the Rockies' defense is better than Arizona's.
So I don't know what the deal is, but there is certainly no reason for anyone on the Rockies to be terrified of the first-place team in their division going into a critical stretch-run road series. The first two games against the Giants were brutal, but for those still looking for a reason to believe, Barry Zito and Matt Cain really beat Colorado on Monday and Tuesday with excellent starting performances. The first two games in this series against the D-Backs, Colorado draws Yusmeiro Petit and Livan Hernandez. That's manageable. Then the rubber game is Josh Fogg against Brandon Webb.
Why didn't Clint Hurdle shuffle the rotation so Jeff Francis would face Webb? I don't know if it would have been possible with the limited off-days available at this point in the season. Still, Francis seemed "wasted" yesterday when the Rockies won eight-zip. I don't feel too bad about Ubaldo Jimenez and Elmer Dessens pitching in the first two games against Arizona. The Rockies' offense is so much better than Arizona's that I think if they can just get on the board first each night, they ought to win those two games.
Arizona looked a little shaky in their showdown series against San Diego, now tied with the Snakes for first place in the West. Could this be the continuation of a correction statheads have been awaiting since early in the first half? The odds are in Arizona's favor to hang on and make the postseason, but they still have to play the games. As long as this many games remain on the Rockies' schedule, you can't write them off entirely. And that was the goal this year, right? To play games like that in September?
A day off today helps a ton. If Colorado wins the game Friday night, they will take the field on Saturday, September 1st with the Rockies ticket office still in danger of processing my payment for postseason tickets, which I sent in despite not actually having money figuring that with my luck the Rockies would make the playoffs, my rent checks would bounce, and I'd move into a tent in the Coors Field remote parking lot until the division series began.