Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba owns nearly a dozen race horses. He knows a little something about handicapping. So, late last week, he leaned back in his chair in the home team's clubhouse at Coors Field and offered his view of the National League West. "This is going to be a tough division. We are ready for it. We have too much talent not to be up there in the standings," Torrealba said. "All year it's going to be like this. I don't think we are going anywhere, you know, unless something crazy happens."

Five hours later, star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was lost for about six weeks with a fractured rib.

The Rockies have been tested over the past 10 weeks, but nothing to the extent they will be now. Rookie manager Walt Weiss must navigate his first major crisis, the team's surprising early season success in danger of being washed away because of a devastating injury to the team's best player at the same time the starting rotation has taken on water.

"We can still be a factor in this race," Weiss said. "Hopefully when we get Tulo back it will almost be like making a trade for an all-star player down the stretch to win the pennant. That's how I'm looking at it. Everybody has their stuff to deal with. At some point during the season, every team is going to be in survival mode."

What played out Thursday afternoon, however, was nothing short of Leonardo DiCaprio sinking into the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean with the Titanic. Can the Rockies seriously contend until Tulo returns?
"Yeah, why not? We have all the talent in the world on this team. It's just a matter of everybody staying healthy," said veteran Michael Cuddyer. "That's every team. Every team has injuries."

True, but the loss of Tulowitzki is a right-left combo to the windpipe. He's arguably the National League MVP at this point because of his bat — hitting cleanup, he ranks in the top five in batting average, home runs, on-base percentage and RBIs. He also happens to anchor the best infield defense the Rockies have had since their 2007 run to the World Series, having committed only one error at shortstop.

His prowess was helping cover for a pitching staff that's been quietly sliding backward in June.
For the Rockies to avoid becoming who critics thought they were in spring training — a last-place team — the starters have to pitch deeper into games, which might require elasticity in the limit of 100 pitches.