August 25, 2011
That headline may seem like a silly question to ask given the Colorado Rockies are 63-68 and haven't seen the better side of .500 since late June.
But over the past week, everyone's favorite procrastinators have taken advantage of swoons from the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants to quietly creep back to the outer fringes of contention. Heading into action on Aug. 17, the Rockies trailed the D'Backs by 13 games. One week later, they're 8.5 games back after Wednesday's wild 7-6 win over the Houston Astros — their sixth victory in seven games.
So they're back in it — though not quite — with 31 games to play. With any other team, a 8.5-game deficit would seem insurmountable with just over a month remaining. But these are the Rockies we're talking about, of course, and they famously wield the power of positive precedent.
In 2007, the Rockies were 6.5 games out on Aug. 25, but famously ran down the San Diego Padres to force the crazy Game No. 163 with Matt Holliday's(notes) controversial winning run. Colorado rode the momentum all the way into the World Series.
Then, in 2010, they were 10.5 games back on Aug. 25, but whittled the Padres' lead down to just one game on Sept. 18. An awful late collapse — 13 losses in the last 14 games! — wiped out all of the streak's accomplishment, but Colorado showed a comeback of that magnitude can be done. (It doesn't hurt to have the help of a fantastically flagging rival like the 2010 Padres, either).
• Head-to-head games: Colorado has plenty of opportunities to make up ground with six games left against Arizona and seven against San Francisco, including a three-game series at AT&T Park to end the season. The Rockies can't squander any of the chances, though. Being 8.5 games back means they have to enter each series with a mindset to sweep.
• An easier schedule: Aside from 13 NL West rivalry games and a weird two-game set in Milwaukee, the Rockies have plenty of fat on their remaining schedule — three games each against the Dodgers and Reds, four against the Astros and six against the Dodgers. Dominate that slate and they'll have a chance.
• Troy Tulowitzki(notes) and Carlos Gonzalez(notes): The late collapse of 2010 displayed the perils of relying so heavily on just two players, but Colorado's superstars are again carrying the team. Since the All-Star break, Tulo has hit .387/.454/.673 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs. CarGo, meanwhile, has been in beastmode since coming back from a right wrist injury that many worried would sap his power. Nope. In 18 games since returning, Gonzalez has hit .288/.373/.671 with eight homers and 27 RBIs. The Rockies will need standout performances from other spots in the lineup, but their two stars are producing exactly like they need them to be.
There are a lot of reasons to believe that this is as far as the Rockies might climb, sure. Eighteen of their last 31 games are on the road, they've been unable to maintain any consistency all season long and they need to topple not just one team, but two. (Can the D'Backs and Giants both roll over in spectacular fashion? It seems unlikely).
Still, given the Rockies' reputation, it'd be foolish for us to write them off just yet.
What do you think? Do the Rockies still have a chance?