The fact that we are six games back on August 27th got me thinking about all the failure we saw from the team in the first half of the year, and how different this season would feel now if we could have turned those losses into wins. I spent lunch perusing through baseball-reference.com, trying to pinpoint the six games that we should have won during the first half that would put us in a tie with Arizona.
I didn't even get through April and I had already found the six - - - all played within the span of 8 days.
Game #18 4/20/08 - HOU 6, COL 4
The Rockies are on a four game winning streak (which included the 22 inning win in San Diego) and actually have a winning record at 9-8, bouncing back after a rough start to the season. The Rockies lead by 1 going to the bottom of the eighth. While the Rockies are still laboring through the Jason Nix experiment, Kaz Matsui singles two home against Brian Fuentes, increasing the Astros win probability by a whopping 52%. The Rockies manage to get the tying runners on base in the top of the ninth against Valverde, but Atkins flies out to deep center to end the game.
Game #19 4/21/08 - PHI 9, COL 5
So how can a game won by 4 runs be so bad? When the winning team scores 5 runs in the last two innings. With Fuentes having blown a lead just the day before, Taylor Buchholz is the culprit this time, giving up a 2 run double to Carlos Ruiz (who?) with two outs in the eighth. Micah Bowie proceeds to come in and add some gasoline, giving up three more in the ninth.
Game #20 4/22/08 - PHI 8, COL 6
When you thought it couldn't get any worse, the Rockies light up Brett Myers for 6 runs, and Francis goes 7 innings. Holliday and Atkins hit homers to give the Rockies a 1 run lead going to the ninth. In comes Corpas, who goes single, K, single, IBB, 3 run double to Pat Burrell, increasing the Phillies win probability by 48%. If you are counting that is now 3 blown leads in a row.
Game #21 4/23/08 - CHC 7, COL 6 (10)
In roll the Cubs having won 15 of their first 21 games and 6 straight. The Rockies put up a 5 spot in the 6th to take the lead against Rich Hill, et al, while Morales holds down the fort giving up 3 runs in 6 innings. Again, top of the ninth with a one run lead, Aramis Ramirez hits a two run bomb off Corpas to take the lead. Spilborghs triples home Podsednik in the bottom of the ninth against Kerry Wood to tie it, but enter Kip Wells in the 10th. The Cubs manufacture a run, and Marmol sets the Rockies down in order in the 10th. 4 blown leads in a row.
Game #23 4/25/08 - COL 7, LAD 8 (13)
The Rockies are still 10-12 at this point in the season, and are coming off a nice win against the Cubs behind 4 hits in 8 innings from emerging ace Aaron Cook. Ubaldo goes nuclear early, giving up six runs in 2 and 1/3 innings. The bully keeps it together, allowing only one more earned run the rest of the game and the Rockies claw back to within one run by the ninth inning. With Saito pitching, the spirit of 2007 must have still been lingering. Spilborghs and Podsednik promptly get on base with a walk and a double respectively. A passed ball ties the game and Helton is intentionally walked to set up the double play with one out. In steps Big Daddy himself with a chance to stop this nonsense. With Podsednik at third, even a medium-depth fly ball scores a run. Instead, of course, the Dodgers strategy works perfectly and a 4-3 double play ends the inning. The Dodgers finally score in the 13th when Kemp reaches on a Garrett Atkins error and scores on a Russell Martin sacrifice fly.
Game #24 4/27/08 - COL 2, LAD 3 (10)
On the surface nothing too much to complain about, good pitching from both Francis, Loaiza and both bullpens keep the game close. Closer inspection reveals the deep flaw that would plague the Rockies all year: Hitting with RISP. With the game tied the Rockies put 2 men on in the 8th, 9th and 10th only to score no runs. In the bottom of the 10th Corpas walks the first two batters and game over thanks to a James Loney single.
So within the space of one week in April, the Rockies lost 6 games that they had every right to win. Now that they are 6 games back, it just makes you wonder what if...