Ubaldo Jimenez picked up his eighth win of the season as the Colorado Rockies offense came through with some run support in a big six to two victory over Cincinnati Reds on Friday. Jimenez ran into trouble with a single batter in each of the first two innings, giving up a leadoff double to Drew Sutton in the top of the first that would lead to a score and then a solo home run to Jonny Gomes in the second, but was otherwise brilliant over eight innings, allowing just five hits and striking out eight.
The Rockies came through with a crooked number in the top of the fourth, a rare occurrence in this road trip, as Ian Stewart hit a two run single with the bases loaded and Carlos Gonzalez followed with a sacrifice fly to take a three to two lead. They added one run in each of the next two innings, one on a Seth Smith solo home run and one from a Troy Tulowitzki double that plated Brad Hawpe. The Rockies final run came in the ninth when Clint Barmes hit a sac fly to score Dexter Fowler who had walked to lead off the inning. Joe Beimel looked great in his first appearance in a Rockies uniform as well, pitching the scoreless ninth.
The win keeps the Rockies tied for the wild card lead, and in a solid position to secure the playoff spot as long as they continue to play as they have for most of the season.
57 - 47
Since July 5, the National League wild card leader's been at least eight games over .500. Since the All-Star break, most days have seen the leader at least ten over, as the Rockies and Giants find themselves tonight. There's no reason to suspect it's going to drop before the end of the season, and every reason to suspect that it will continue to go higher. What this means in practical terms is that a team at .500 right now really is at least five wins from getting into the playoff conversation, and they would be in need of a full eight to be a serious threat. With remaining games starting to dwindle, the chances for teams to make that kind of run are running out.
With two wins at Cincinnati, the Rockies are back on track for a 90 win season. It's not an easy concept to grasp that a team that's got a .548 record for the season thus far is really at the talent level of a .600 win team, but it's a little easier to see if you break it down into smaller sections. Over the last eighty games, only Philadelphia and Los Angeles have proven themselves better as far as their record is concerned and the Rockies have a .588 winning percentage. Over the last thirty, only the Phillies and Cubs have better records and the Braves are tied. Since the All-Star break, well after our big run, the Rockies are 16-10. This is a long way of saying that there remains more reason to be optimistic regarding the rest of the season than pessimistic. Other teams may have added components, but they were playing catch-up.
I'm already starting to ramble so I'll see about continuing this discussion in tomorrow's Rockpile. It's been great to see the Rockies play as well as they've played these last two games. Sharp defense, a few timely hits, lots of patience at the plate and not pressing even when the game have been close or the Rockies have been trailing. I wish they played like this in New York for Russ, but well, we can't have everything, I guess.
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