On Thursday afternoon at Coors Field, the Colorado Rockies picked up their first win in seven months, defeating the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates 9-3 to avoid the sweep. So it wasn't actually seven months, but for Rockies fans it felt that way.
Ubaldo Jimenez, who, like early in his career had been dealing with the giving up the big inning, finally looked like the pitcher who earned the right to start in the All-Star game for the National League. He went seven strong innings, giving up just one run on four hits. He struck out six and walked three.
The biggest statement Jimenez made was in the 6th inning, with one on and two out, Jimenez threw a 99 MPH fastball past Garrett Jones to end the inning. Throughout the six starts that the Dominican has struggled through, Jimenez was hurt because he was not relying on his fastball to get outs. On Thursday he went back to his strength and was able to pick up his 16th win of the season.
The win represents a slight pulse in the corpse of the 2010 Colorado Rockies. Two weeks after looking like the favorites to make a second half run at the National League West title, the Rockies spiraled into mediocrity after the All-Star break.
Depending on the outcome of the Padres-Dodgers game on Thursday night, the Rockies remain just far enough out of the race to make them feel like they have a legitimate shot at winning the division. However, they are not quite far enough out of the race for the front office to make an easy decision about still being in the race.
What that means is that the Rockies will neither be buyers or sellers at the deadline. Most likely they will be holders. The only player that should find himself in a different uniform before Saturday is lefty reliever Joe Beimel. Beimel is on the radar of several teams looking for a lefty who can come in to face a lefty hitter and keep the ball out of the air.
With Matt Reynolds looking good in Colorado Springs, the Rockies could easily give up Beimel if they are able to get a prospect or two out of him.
Aaron Cook has begun to hear his name circulated in trade talks. If the Rockies were able to pull any deal off involving Cook it would be a major coup in their favor. The redhead right hander has been awful in 2010, and that is putting it nicely. Getting a win out of Cook has been as common as a Jonathan Herrera home run. Moreover, the Rockies are due to owe Cook $10 million dollars in 2011. Getting rid of him would be a major upgrade, even if the Rockies got no one in return.
What the latest losing streak should prove to the Rockies is how important it is to win games in April and May. The club finished April two games under .500, which was acceptable at the time considering their usual struggles early on. The early season struggles made it where a losing streak like the Rockies just ended is nearly impossible to recover from. Had the Rockies even been two games over .500 in April the would now only be four games out of first place, right in the thick of things.
Will the Rockies be able to recover from their struggles and get back in the playoff race? That remains to be seen. However, it is safe to say that they must start a winning streak immediately. They cannot afford to lose a series to the Cubs. If they drop the first game, Dan O'Dowd may be scrambling to rid the roster of expenses.