Ouch, Rockies Nation, ouch. I don't entirely know where to begin with it, aside from: damn, that one hurt. I suppose we might have expected it, as karma has an unfortunate tendency to bite you in the butt right when you think you've gotten away with a steal, and quite frankly, here comes crunch time. We learned today how a backbreaking grand slam feels like (funnily enough, like your back being broken) and a lot more about the team that we might have preferred not to. There were culprits aplenty, whether it was Atkins looking at three straight strikes with a runner on third and one out in the top of the eighth (back in those oh-so-enjoyable times when we were only behind by one) followed by CarGo fishing in the dirt to end the inning, after his escapades in the previous frame had diddled us out of an extra run. Not to mention the normally reliable Rafael Betancourt giving up the go-ahead grand slam to Edgar Freaking Renteria (fourth homer of the year, holla!) and otherwise dooming us to one of the hardest losses to stomach all year. All we had to do in San Francisco to retain at least a two-game lead was to avoid getting swept. And... well....
It didn't go too well. In the unique and colorful parlance of Purple Row, we like to call this "fail."
Join me after the jump if you feel like analyzing the collective misery any more. I promise, it's short.
The week started with all kinds of excitement -- walk-off wins supplying possibly the most dramatic moment of the season, thanks to Spilly's 14th-inning, game-winning grand slam against the Giants on Monday. Well, after a start like that, perhaps it figures that there had to be an equally bad event at the end to balance it out. Don't discount the karma, people. It'll get you. After climbing to within two games of the Dodgers thanks to Tulo's game-winning single (this one just in the tenth) things started to take a nosedive. We lost the next two to the blue while continuing our troubling habit of leaving small villages on the basepaths, and "Buddy, Can You Spare a Run?" was the theme of the next two, as the total offensive doldrums didn't alleviate until a too-little, too-late effort in the second game of the Giants series enabled us to lose 5-3 instead of 5-0. We knew that facing Lincecum, Zito, and Cain at home was going to be a tough task, and that the Giants would have extra motivation to get us back for the pain we inflicted on them earlier in the week, but if this is a playoff-contending team, it's the kind of challenge they needed to sink their teeth into. Not get antsy and overanxious. And, well, the five-game skid is the longest since Tracy took the helm, reminding us all painfully of how bad things used to be before. It hurts more now that we've got something to lose -- our four-game lead in the Wild Card, for a start, which we had as recently as Tuesday.
There is, however, still a bright side. First, it was better to have this little choke at the end of August instead of the end of September -- assuming that a little choke is what it is and the boys proceed to get better at home against the injury-ravaged Mets. (I seem to recall there's a little revenge needing to be doled out there as well). Things had been going so well that we probably should have expected a minor funk before this, and it'll show us a lot about the mental makeup of the club if they put this nonsense behind them and return to taking care of business. After all, there are still thirty games left, maybe having some fear of God put into them will freshly galvanize them (seeing as the Wild Card, or the division, is never won in August) and as we were just painfully shown, a whole lot can happen in as little as a week. If they brush off this heartbreaker of a series and return to taking care of business as before, I think we'll be one of the eight teams not making golf reservations for the second week of October. (And it'll feel extra good to deny the Giants, amirite?)
In conclusion: yes, this hurts. If you're panicking right now, you're perfectly within your rights to do so. Five-game losing streaks against division rivals, including getting swept by your closest competitors to fall into a tie where there was once a four-game cushion, is never cause for celebration. I will say that I personally did not enjoy the weekend proceedings a whit. It was pretty darn painful to see the team play that badly.
But in the end, there are still two things to take from it: one, the aforementioned thirty-one games remaining on the slate, and the fact that this is, plain and simple, the nature of the game that we all love so much. There are hot streaks and there are cold streaks. Sometimes it's a mistake -- you leave the fastball up and Edgar Renteria makes you pay. Sometimes you do your best, you throw the pitch where you wanted it and it still goes yard. Sometimes it's out of your hands (usually when Angel Campos is on the umpiring crew). Sometimes you make a perfect play on the tough grounder, then sling it into the stands. Sometimes you lay out to make the catch and it squirts out of your glove. Sometimes you strike out 11 in 8 innings and your team doesn't give you a stinking run. It all adds up into the peculiar beauty, and the peculiar pain, of baseball. And as bad as the bad times hurt, just as good do the good times feel. Remember how you all felt after Spilly's grand slam? You will feel that good again this season, I promise.
Basically, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains.
Geez, I wish it had rained.
P.S. By the time this posts, I will be on my way to DIA, heading back to New York. I'll be back in Colorado for Christmas, but it's uncertain if I'll be coming back after I leave in January (I'm moving out of state). And this has made me realize that a whole generation of my life is coming to an end, and a new one is starting. I grew up with the Rockies, got away from them for a few years, and came back for good in 2006. I've been attending school out of state, but at least I've had the summers to spend time with my purple obsession. I've been to a whole lot of games. I've seen the aforementioned good times, the aforementioned bad times. To think of that coming to an end is strange. I honestly don't know when I'll get to another Rockies game at Coors Field, and that's a strange thought. For better or worse (currently worse) there aren't a whole lot of things on this earth that I love more than this baseball team, and now I'll be commencing my (permanent, at least for a while) absentee fan time. You guys back in Colorado, you enjoy those October games, and everything after -- in 2010 and beyond. I stand by my assertion that we'll still get there. And I'll get back eventually. Hopefully it won't be years.