I hate to think of it this way. The eternal optimist, I hate to think that when the Rockies are not mathematically eliminated from contention that there is no chance the Rockies will be playing baseball in October.
But the chances are very slim.
How can one eighteen-inning, 2-1 loss doom the Rockies? Well, to put it simply, the Rockies needed that one. Badly. With the Dodgers on an unfathomable roll and not only in first place, but beginning to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the West, the Rockies can probably forget about winning the division. They’re 5.5 games behind the Dodgers, sure, and the Dodgers probably won’t keep up this pace forever, but the fact is that the Dodgers have lost exactly one game in the month of August (to the Rockies, of course.) The Dodgers are 17-1 in their last eighteen games. It’s hard to stay in the race when the team at the top is playing that well.
The Rockies are just three games out in the wild card; the problem there is that they’re behind four teams in the standings. Making up three games against one team isn’t that difficult; making up three games while hoping that all four teams ahead of you start losing is. There are also five teams within three games of the Rockies coming from behind, so you can start to see the futility of hoping for a Rockies playoff appearance.
Back to the game tonight. It’s very possible that one 18-inning marathon could spell doom for the Rockies. The Rockies used six relievers — only Jose Mesa was not used — and, more importantly, didn’t come away with a win. Now, with the team not getting a day off until Monday, it’s imperative that the Rockies get a good start from Aaron Cook tomorrow. Otherwise, the bullpen will have to be used again.
The problem? Thursday’s game pits Josh Fogg against 13-game winner Brandon Webb. It would be asking a lot to hope for a win in that game. I said before the series that the Rockies would probably need three of four in this series, and unless Fogg can come through in that game, it’s not going to happen. With the Rockies going to Shea Stadium for a three-game series this weekend, followed by three games in Milwaukee, it’s going to become very difficult for the Rockies to make up some ground in the wild card race. Hoping for the Rockies to make the 2006 playoffs is an exercise in futility. I’ve been saying all along that the Rockies were a year or two away from making a real playoff push, and we’ve been fooled all along because the team has managed to hang around because the National League has been so bad.
But let’s be honest with ourselves. Unless the Rockies can put together a massive winning streak, they’re probably not going to be a playoff team in 2006.