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The Hot Rox: Rockies at Phillies, 9/10-13

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September 10: Phillies 6, Rockies 5 (10) WP: Myers (4-6) LP: Buchholz (6-5)
September 11: Rockies 8, Phillies 2 WP: Morales (1-2) LP: Eaton (9-9)
September 12: Rockies 12, Phillies 0 WP: Redman (1-4) LP: Kendrick (8-4)
September 13: Phillies 12, Rockies 4 WP: Geary (2-2) LP: Francis (15-8)

For more on the Rockies, please visit our SBN sister site Purple Row

This isn't just a pun on Sleater-Kinney's best album or the Redford jewel heist flick that inspired its title track; Colorado is playing great baseball these days. The NL West upstarts have won five of their last six and seven of their last nine to reclaim a place in the playoff hunt, most recently taking two of three at home from the wild card-leading Padres. They now trail the Phillies by a game, and the Padres by three.

When these two teams met in Colorado right before the all-star break, the Rockies gave the Phillies a taste of nightmares to come: Colorado trailed 6-1 in the sixth inning of the opener, but came all the way back to tie it with two outs in the ninth, on a Brad Hawpe homer off Antonio Alfonseca, and win it in the 11th. The next night, the Phillies scored three runs in the top of the first, then endured a long rain delay from which the bats never returned as the Rockies won 6-3. The Phils finally returned the favor in the series finale, coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win 8-4. This was also the game when they won the hearts of the nation, at least temporarily, by rescuing the Colorado grounds crew from their own flyaway tarp.

The Rockies are somewhat similar to the Phils in that both teams are led by the bats. Colorado boasts five quality hitters in MVP contender Matt Holliday, Todd Helton, Brad Hawpe, Garrett Atkins and rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki; all five have much worse numbers on the road, but considering the hitter-friendly nature of OFJOAB, their home splits are probably more relevant for a visit to Philly. Helton's career numbers against the Phils are in-freakin-sane: .397/.500/.714, with 15 homers in 224 at-bats. Colorado's offense might be slightly hampered by injuries to CF Willy Tavares and 2B Kaz Matsui, both of whom are likely to miss the seris.

The Rockies have one clear advantage over the Phils in their relief corps: young closer Manny Corpas is supported by an able setup crew that includes lefties Brian Fuentes and Jeremy Affeldt, meaning that manager Clint Hurdle can play matchup games against the Phils' contingent of lefty sluggers.

With 20 games left and the Padres pitching probably too good to collapse, this is the sprint to the finish. Anything less than 12-8 over these final three weeks probably dooms the Phillis to another near-miss, and with a ten-game road trip beginning at Shea Stadium following this four-game set, we are now firmly in must-win territory.