Road Rocky for Colorado

Jul 18, 2006 12:16 AM

Colorado’s vision of grandeur in the NL West has taken a heavier hit than the New York Stock Market.

The Rockies have fallen 4½ games back to 44-47 after seven straight losses, including four at Cincinnati in their first action after the All-Star break. The setbacks against the Reds were especially damaging because Cincy is now tops in the Wild Card chase at 49-44.

Only a week ago, Colorado was four games above .500. That’s how quickly fortunes can change in the National League.

Also disturbing is the return to past form on the road, where the Rockies were perennially among the worst in baseball. For most of this year, Colorado was actually playing above .500 ball on the road and one of just three teams (White Sox, Mets) to own a winning money record against both righty and lefty starting pitching.

So what’s happened?

Well, the bullpen for starters. It’s failing bigtime. Sunday, veteran Jose Mesa, who has been with more teams than Heidi Fleiss, blew his sixth save of the year. Mesa could not hold a 3-1 lead, yielding three in a five-run eighth-inning uprising that led the Reds to a 6-4 victory.

Josh Fogg and Jason Jennings each pitched well in the Reds series, with Fogg taking a 3-1 lead into the seventh before the ailing bullpen took over. The Rockies offense, led by All-Star Matt Holliday and Todd Helton, has sputtered but not to the point of deserving seven straight losses. Five of the setbacks have been by two runs or less.

The Rockies remain on the road this week, facing the win-starved Pirates in Pittsburgh and the division rival D’backs in Phoenix. It was Arizona that began the seven-game slide with three victories over the Rocks at Coors Field.

We suggested in previous articles that Colorado would need to hang around the .500 mark to stay in the NL West race. That still applies, but if the Rockies revert to past years and become a flop on the road, they will fall back into the cellar.