The Coors Effect

September 17, 2009 2:44 AM

Rockies need a win tonight

Baseball isn't college football.  You don't need to go 162-0, and it's hard to point to an individual game over a 162-game schedule that your team absolutely must win.  When you have a 2.5-game lead with 16 games remaining, you really just need to keep pace: just don't lose too many games, and you have a spot in the playoffs.

That said, the Rockies need to win tonight, and it goes beyond the impact that one game will have on the final standings.

Even with a loss tonight, which would complete a sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants, the Rockies will still have a one-and-a-half game lead in the wild card.  The Rockies could weather a loss and still be able to come back and win a few down the stretch to take the wild card -- merely playing .500 ball the rest of the way would give the Rockies 90 wins.  But the impact of a loss tonight would go well beyond the standings.  Aside from the obvious fact that the Giants are the Rockies' closest competition in the wild card race, the Rockies need a win over the Giants to stop the four-game skid that has recently engulfed the team.  It's a particularly ugly skid that has seen the team score just eight runs over four games, while giving up 26 runs over the last three.  And those last three include starts by the purported ace of the staff, Ubaldo Jimenez, and a 15-game winner in Jason Marquis.  Jorge de la Rosa isn't a stopper, but he needs to be tonight.

And the offense needs to come up in a big way as well.  Did I mention that the Rockies have scored just eight runs in the last four?  That only partly underscores the recent offensive slump; only once in the last nine games have the Rockies even scored five runs.  The fact that the Rockies won the first five of those is rather amazing.

Simply put, the Rockies don't just need a win for the standings; they need a win for their confidence.  Over the last week and a half, this is not a team that has inspired much confidence: the Rockies were struggling to scratch out wins against mediocre competition before getting waxed in two straight against their main competition for the playoffs right now.  Injuries have played a role, but right now, this doesn't look like a playoff team.  Not that the Rockies aren't a playoff team: in June and July, they certainly looked like a playoff team.  In September, though, they haven't been; and frankly, I'd much rather be playing a playoff team in September than in June.

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