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Mets 3, Rockies 2: Sending out an SOS

Two Colorado streaks were extended today, but the most important one was snapped.

Doug Pensinger

The Rockies fell 3-2 to the Mets in a makeup game this afternoon at Coors Field breaking a seven game winning streak against the club that sits in fourth place in the NL East for the fifth consecutive year.

Among the positives at plate today were Michael Cuddyer extending his hitting streak to a franchise record 24 games with a single up the middle in the second inning (breaking Dante Bichette's 23 game mark set in 1995), and Wilin Rosario collecting multiple hits for the fourth straight game and for the seventh time in his last 11 starts.

There was also a positive on the mound as Tyler Chatwood battled through six innings of of one run baseball working without his best stuff. This extended Chatwood's season streak of innings pitched without allowing a home run to 79.1 frames (50.2 at the major league level and 28.2 at Colorado Springs) while dropping his ERA to a minuscule 2.13. At some point this summer, I'm going to get uncontrollably giddy about the possibility of the 23 year old Chatwood turning into a long term productive member of the Colorado rotation, but that day is not today.

The game actually started off well for the Rockies as they took an early 2-0 second inning lead. After Cuddyer and Rosario led off the inning with a single and a double, they came in to score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Todd Helton and throwing error from Mets first basemen Josh Satin. For a while, it looked like that would be all the runs the Rockies would need. After all, the Mets had already lost five games this season in which their pitching staff had given up just two runs, had a lineup today that failed to feature anyone with an OPS above .800 on the season, and they had the tall task of facing Matt Belisle and Rex Brothers in the eighth and ninth innings.

Except for one thing, Matt Belisle has suddenly become stunningly unreliable over the last couple of weeks. He was actually better today than he's been in recent outings as only one ball should have left the infield, but after Jonathan Herrera and Josh Rutledge ran into each other trying to reach a soft ground ball up the middle, Belisle served up a two run bomb to Marlon Byrd that proved to be the difference in the game. With that outing, Belisle has now surrendered at least two earned runs in five of his last seven appearances. If Belisle coming unglued continues to be a trend, it's a huge blow to the Rockies chances as he's been a rock in the bullpen for several seasons now.

With this defeat, the Rockies have now lost three in a row, eight of ten, nine of 16 at Coors Field, and are 11 games south of .500 since their incredible 13-4 start to the season in April. In addition, the Rockies have now lost three of the last four games in which their starter has gone at least six innings without allowing more than one run - Exactly the type of games this club can't afford to throw away with Tulo on the shelf. This loss also drops them to a season worst two games under .500 at 39-41. Couple that with a 3-2, 11 inning win from Arizona against Washington where the winning run came in on a bunt single from Didi Gregorious, and the Rockies are now a season high four games off the division lead.

In short, the Rockies have now reached their most significant crossroads of the season. They're certainly not dead yet, but they've used up all of their mulligans and they must pull this plane out of its nosedive right now before things spiral out of control. All season long, one of the biggest factors that has been working in the Rockies favor is the mediocrity of the division. They have not had to play great baseball to stay close to the division lead.

That changes tomorrow however as Colorado begins a stretch of 16 consecutive games against division opponents that leads to the All Star break. A bad stretch of games here not only threatens to drop them further below .500, but it will also simultaneously inflate the records of the teams they need to beat, likely leaving the Rockies with a hole too big to dig out of when the most valuable player in baseball returns sometime in mid to late July.

The Rockies are playing like a team that knows it's in trouble without its best piece on the field too. Carlos Gonzalez, who admitted after last season that he doesn't feel as comfortable at the plate without Tulo hitting behind him went 0-4 with two strikeouts. DJ LeMahieu, who had not made an out on the base paths all season and was nine for nine in stolen base attempts entering this game was picked off and thrown out at second in the eighth, and Michael Cuddyer was guilty of just trying to do too much as the team's hottest hitter as he was throw out at second to lead off a fruitless ninth.

The Rockies are a ship taking on water and they know it. Mistakes like the base running plays we saw today are evidence of that. Each day they sail into more and more dangerous waters and can't turn the vessel around despite the best intentions of guys like LeMahieu and Cuddyer. The season now hinges on if this team can play a good stretch of meaningful baseball without Troy Tulowitzki on field; something this franchise has not been able to do in more than a decade, so forgive me if I'm a bit skeptical of that happening - And if the Rockies can't plug the holes here, it may be time to send up a distress signal.


Source: FanGraphs

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Record: 39-41

Games Behind: 4.0

Games Left: 82

Record needed to beat Keith Law's prediction: 15-67

Record needed to beat 2012: 26-56

Record needed to beat the Vegas Over / Under Number: 33-49

Record needed to finish above .500: 43-40

Number of Home Runs needed for Cargo, Tulo, and Rosario to combine for 100: 51 (But they probably won't reach it now with Tulo's rib fracture)

* * * * * *

Tomorrow the Rockies begin a series against the San Francisco Giants who are also not going to be in a good mood having lost four in a row including a sweep at the hands of the hated Dodgers. The pitching matchup is Barry Zito (4-5, 4.40 ERA) vs. Jhoulys Chacin (6-3, 3.92 ERA), and it's show and tell time for both teams.