Colorado Rockies: Red Flags Abound After Two Near No-Hitters in One Tough Week
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They say lightning never strikes the same place twice.
The Colorado Rockies almost disproved that in the span of five days.
After Tim Lincecum and the division rival San Francisco Giants took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning Monday night, Anibal Sanchez and the Florida Marlins did it again on Friday night, taking a no-no into the ninth inning before outfielder Dexter Fowler led off with a base hit to right field.
Not an easy week for the Rockies.
While this by no means is an excuse for the Rockies or their fans to hit the panic button, it's not a good sign.
While their defense and the bullpen continue to be strengths of this team, there is one big problem facing the Rockies—the team is severely lacking at the plate. It goes without saying that without a successful offense, winning a championship is nearly impossible.
For the first time in 2011, the Rockies have lost four out of their past six games after winning seven straight. They still maintain a two-and-a-half game lead over the Giants, who began a three-game series with the Atlanta Braves on Friday.
Manager Jim Tracy said in an interview with the Denver Post's Jim Armstrong on Friday that he believes the key to success on the field lies in the players' camaraderie off the field.
Just being on the road is no exception.
After a miserable 31-50 road record in 2010, the Rockies currently hold the best road record in baseball in 7-2. They will not, however, hold that record for long playing the way they did on Friday night.
They still face challenges on Saturday and Sunday. Javier Vazquez and Josh Johnson will pitch the next two nights for the Marlins, respectively. They get a bit of a break when they travel to Chicago to face the Cubs for three, but playing at Wrigley in the cold is never easy. The Pittsburgh Pirates come to Denver for a three-game set and, if the Rockies can take care of business at home, they can send April out on a high note.
Before they can worry about Chicago and Pittsburgh though, or any hopes of a solid finish to April, they had to get past Sanchez.
Easier said than done. Sanchez was lights-out Friday night. That may the understatement of the year for the Rockies so far.
At one point Friday night, he sent down eight in a row before Todd Helton managed a walk in the seventh inning. The Rockies did have one offensive bright spot, however. Unfortunately, it came in the form of a Florida error.
Fowler led off the game with a walk and an advance to second base on a John Buck passed ball. Then on third, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki grounded to third, but an errant throw caused Marlins' first baseman Gaby Sanchez to drop the ball. Fowler subsequently scored, giving the Rockies an early 1-0 lead.
That lead, however, evaporated fast in the humid Florida night when Jhoulys Chacin gave up home runs to both Sanchez and outfielder Chris Coghlan. A dropped ball at the plate gave the Marlins their fourth run, on their way to an eventual 4-1 win.
On Monday night, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez broke up Lincecum's no-hit bid with an infield hit. The Rockies went on to add three more hits and one run en route to an 8-1 loss at home.
Somehow, through this rough week, the Rockies are still tied with Cleveland for the Major League lead in wins. Their play the past week hasn't backed that up at all.
If Colorado wants to hold on to any hope of finding success in 2011, they absolutely must find a way to continue to put up the offensive numbers they've proven they can. If they can find their swing again, Friday night can be remembered as a fluke instead of a red flag.
They can only keep playing with lightning so much before they get burned.
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