Another tough defeat for the Rockies last night. Troy Renck of the Denver Post sums it up pretty well:
The top two hitters in the lineup — Eric Young Jr. and Dexter Fowler — reached base six times and stole three bases. And didn’t score.
The first bad news of the day is that last night was another night of fail for the Rockies on the road. Another night of flailing at the plate with runners in scoring position. Carlos Gonzalez masqueraded as an MVP candidate a few weeks ago, but continued his road struggles. In his first three plate appearances there were runners in scoring position and he struck out the first two attempts and weekly popped up to the infield in his third try.
The Rockies fell further behind in the Wild Card race.
The good news is that the San Francisco Giants are starting to fall apart. Tim Lincecum, the winner of the past two Cy Young awards, has really not been himself this year. In his most recent start he failed to complete four innings and it was the fifth time this year he didn’t make it through five innings of work. That is a major piece of the Giants puzzle that is struggling (an even 9.00 ERA in August).
The Giants were leading the Wild Card race at the beginning of the month, and catching them is a possibility.
The bad news is that they are not leading anymore. The Philadelphia Phillies are now leading the Wild Card race, and they are going the opposite direction of the Rockies and Giants. The Phillies are getting healthy as Chase Utley returns to the lineup this week.
The Rockies will not only need to pass the Phillies, but they will need to catch both the Phillies and the loser of the NL Central (and we might as well throw the Braves into that mix too while we are at it).
Currently the Rockies trail the Phillies by six games in the Wild Card and the Giants are one game behind and Cardinals 1.5 games behind. Both the Phillies and Cardinals are still chasing the Braves and Reds, respectively, in their division.
There is a lot of baseball left and unfortunately the Rockies essentially trail five teams for three playoff spots, and two of those spots the Rockies have no chance of winning (because they are in a different division).
Right now their best bet is to see one team from the NL Central and NL East pull away and the trailing team fall apart. The Giants will also need to continue to trip. That is about the only way the Rockies stand a chance; they need three teams to completely stumble to the finish line. The likelihood of the Cardinals, Phillies, Reds and Braves stumbling is next to none. All of those are really good baseball teams with great managers and great veteran leadership; they will not crumble.
Of course, all of this is moot if the Rockies cannot score runs on the road, which they cannot.
The Rockies’ magic number is now 15. They have 15 games to lose before they have zero chance of reaching 90 wins. Once they lose more than 15 games the remainder of the way they are out of the playoffs. That is, of course, assuming 90 wins is good enough, and that might not be the case.