I could go right back to yesterday's blog entry and write a page and a half about Johan Santana hitting the DL with bone spurs in his pitching elbow, and while that entry may come soon, it's not for today.
Today, I wanted to go straight to last night's 14-inning stomach-turner between the Rockies and Giants, and see what we can take away from the game.
A quick recap: the game began with two hurlers going right at hitters. Jason Marquis got the start for Colorado, and allowed just one run (on a sacrifice fly) in the 1st. Barry Zito continued his second half surge, giving up just an unearned run on 3 walks and a fielding error in the 5th. The game remained tied until the 14th inning, with Colorado blowing multiple opportunities to end the game. In the top half, the Giants scored 3 on a 2-run triple and a fielder's choice grounder. Then, just when it looked like San Francisco might head back to the Bay down just 2 games in the Wild Card hunt, reliever Justin Miller walked opposing pitcher Adam Eaton to force in a run, and Ryan Spilborghs crushed a game-ending opposite-field grand slam, and what remained of the Coors Field crowd exited the stadium absolutely beside themselves.
First, it's pretty clear the Rockies are here to stay. They have the bats, that's for darn sure. Hell, they've had the bats for years, but they so rarely have been able to put together nice stretches away from the thin air in Denver. They have the closer to get it done, as Huston Street has blown just 1 save all season long in a dominant 2009. They have the staff ace, as well; Ubaldo Jimenez, quietly to some, rather loudly to others, has emerged as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Jimenez also boasts the hardest fastball for any starter in baseball, on average. Yep, even faster than Justin Verlander.
The Rockies have won 51 of their last 73 games, many of them as underdogs, at least at the beginning of the streak. If someone approached you in a sportsbook and offered you a 51-22 record without even having to handicap, I know you'd take it in a heartbeat, and so would I.
Tonight, the Rockies open a 3-game series against the only team ahead of them in the National League West, the Los Angeles Dodgers. By the end of this series, Colorado could be in a virtual tie with LA or 6 games back. Yes, the Dodgers will challenge Colorado -- they always do. But given the fact that LA has floated near 22 games over .500 for the better part of 2 months and Colorado is, as we noted above, 30 games over .500 in that same stretch, it's a pretty sound move to back Colorado to win the series, and Colorado to win just about any individual game between now and the end of the season.
Looking quickly at their schedule, Colorado heads to San Francisco for 3 more ultra-important games after this series with LA, then September and October sees them tackle the Mets, Diamondbacks, Reds, Padres, Giants, D'backs again, Padres again, Cardinals, Brewers, and finally 3 with the Dodgers to end the season. If that stretch of games between the Mets and the second series with the Padres doesn't smell like a potential 16-6 run, I don't know what would.
Keep a close watch on Colorado, and if it so behooves you, put a unit on them every night and you just might come out ahead a few more dollars you didn't think you'd have.