As the calendar turns to September, baseball races are really starting to heat up.

The NL Wild Card has a few possible candidates: the Phillies lead the Giants by two games and are 5.5 up on the fading Cardinals.

The Rockies find themselves 6.5 games out of the Wild Card lead after a seemingly season-killing, eight-game losing streak at the end of July. They are still 7.5 games out of the NL West, despite the Padres’ continued slide.

Yesterday’s gut-wrenching, 12-11 loss to the Phillies really hurts. Like, soap in both eyes hurt. But with 29 games to play, the Rockies will still be a player down the stretch run.

The Rockies have been able to tread water with injuries to Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Jeff Francis, Aaron Cook, Jorge De La Rosa, Manuel Corpas and Huston Street.

They have a Pirate-like road record of 26-42. The offense tends to go into hibernation outside of the friendly confines of Coors Field.

Their ace Ubaldo Jimenez hasn’t won a decision since August 4th despite allowing no more than three earned runs in his past seven starts. The flamethrower has taken it in stride, but people were talking about this guy winning 30 games in July; now he might not even reach 20!

The Rockies have had to deal with the aging of their local legend, Helton, who has been a force for the Rockies for over 10 years. But age is creeping up on him very quickly; Helton hit a paltry .246 before being placed on the DL in early July with a stiff back. The $17.7M dollar man only had two homers to that point.

Since coming off the DL in early August, Helton has improved dramatically.

The re-energized Helton has hit .307 while launching four bombs and knocking in 10 runs, making the offseason choice for Rockies’ management that much harder. Helton’s gargantuan contract runs through the ’11 campaign.

Tulo has returned to All-Star form after being sidelined for 33 games with a broken wrist. He was red hot in August with a .351 average and 16 RBI. His Gold-Glove-caliber defense has shined as well.

But the biggest reason the Rox aren’t completely buried is the one they call CarGo. Carlos Gonzalez has been an absolute monster for the Rockies this season. He is hitting a sizzling .331 with 31 home-runs and 93 ribbies.

He is in the top five of all three major categories in the NL. If it wasn’t for Joey Votto and Albert Pujols, CarGo would be the runaway choice for MVP. The five-tool star plays a magnificent left field and also has some speed, collecting 20 SBs on the year.

The Rockies have a history of late season magic; everybody remembers “Roxtober” of 2007, when they ripped off 14 wins in 15 games to sweep their way into the World Series. In 2009, the Rockies played nine games over .500 in September en route a Wild Card berth.

In both instances, the team struggled mightily throughout the spring and into the summer. But for whatever reason—depth, conditioning, concentration, or something else—the Rockies never give up till the bitter end.

Fast forward to this year and they find themselves in a eerily similar position. World beaters they are not, but the team has refused to fold.

Sure, it looks bleak for the Mile High City, but they are finally healthy again.

They have a set lineup featuring a ton of speed with Dexter Fowler and Eric Young Jr. at the top of the order. The rotation has been solid of late and a healthy Aaron Cook will be back next week. Catching the Phillies won’t be easy, but this team has as good a chance as any to give them all they can handle.

Recent history suggests that the Rockies may not be a team to count out just yet.

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