As the title states, it's now or never for the Colorado Rockies. Despite losses in the first two games of this series, Colorado still can reach 92 wins with a 13-4 finishing kick. However, as I'm sure you're aware, not all losses are created equally. I would venture to say that if the Rockies lose even two of their four remaining games against the Padres (currently 3.5 back) or Giants (2 back) then they will (probably) have too much ground to make up on the division. The wild card (Atlanta up by 3.5) might still be in play, but I wouldn't count on it.
Which is why I'm declaring this afternoon's game The Most Important Game Of The Season So Far and a MUST WIN for the Rockies. Colorado will send out the heroic Jorge De La Rosa to face the dastardly Clayton Richard. He will have to be better than Jason Hammel was last night for the Rockies to be successful, because the bullpen is pretty thin thanks to the last few outings by Colorado starters. At least Huston Street seems to have pulled himself together of late.
Because of the import of this game, I will also be bringing my .833 attendance winning percentage this year to help tip the scales in the Rockies' favor. BP has the Rockies' playoff chances at 15.5%, but today's game will cause a significant swing no matter the result. A win today means the Rockies are 2.5 back from a team with a difficult remaining schedule and still standing. A loss...well, let's hope the Rockies don't lose.
A Mini-Rant Towards Our Manager that Won't Change Anything
Please oh please with sugar on top, Jim Tracy, won't you play Chris Nelson? Don't get me wrong Jim, I'm happy that you finally realized that Clint Barmes wasn't cutting the mustard as a starting second baseman. It's just that Eric Young Jr. isn't the man to replace him as the starter. While Young's defense isn't as bad as his recent track record has shown, wouldn't it make sense to play someone who played most of his minor league career at shortstop, the most difficult defensive position on the diamond? Or maybe even one that put up a .317/.379/.498 line in AAA (that's a 125 wRC+ from a middle infielder Jim) and hasn't shown any signs of cooling off when given an opportunity at the major league level (5/9)?
You don't think that guy deserves a shot, Jim? Look, I'm a bigger speed freak than most, but EY2 (and his 81 wRC+) isn't nearly the offensive or defensive player that Chris Nelson is. Nelson should be starting almost every day, but instead he is relegated to pinch-running (where he's been awesome) or as a fourth stringer behind Barmes and Johnathan Herrera. This is lunacy, plain and simple.
The Rockies are a very well-run organization, but every once in a while they miss something big. If Nelson is pushed out of this organization without being given a fair shake, that would be a huge mistake.
According to Troy Renck, Chris Iannetta will likely be out for a week with a strained right calf, while Ian Stewart looks to be back in time for the Arizona series on next Tuesday from his right ribcage strain. By then it may well be too late for the Rockies' playoff chances, but my gut tells me that it won't be.
As the FanShot below details, the Rockies' 2011 schedule is out and the Rockies will have Opening Day at Coors Field for the first time since 2007. Once again, Colorado looks to have a tough July schedule.
Finally, Renck has a mailbag, in which he answers several reader questions.