barmes-clint1So, about that amazing, over-the-shoulder catch second baseman Clint Barmes made to save the Rockies on Sunday afternoon? The catch that preserved a tenuous lead over the Atlanta Braves in the National League wild-card chase?

Turns out Barmes probably dropped the ball. Craig Welling, an avid Rockies fan and talented photographer, posted a series of photos on his Colorado Rockies Photos blog yesterday, which appear to show the baseball on the ground, next to Barmes’ body, in the middle of his acrobatic “catch.”

The implications are major: If Barmes didn’t catch that ball, the out didn’t count, and the Cardinals’ runner on third base wouldn’t have scored. It would have been the top of the ninth inning, one out, with the Cardinals’ runner on third. The Rockies could have come back to win the game, but who knows?

If they didn’t come back to win, the Rockies would be barely clinging to the NL wild-card lead; the Atlanta Braves won yesterday and closed the gap with the Rockies to two games (via The Associated Press). At least, that’s two games if Barmes caught the ball. Otherwise, the Braves would be just one game back with a very favorable schedule.

Rockies’ outfielder Ryan Spilborghs, the man in the best position to clear up the mysterious circumstances, tells The Denver Post only he and Barmes know the truth, and that he’d prefer the catch remain shrouded in mystery. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki says he thought Barmes caught the ball, adding this gem: “And who cares now, [we won].”

The Rockies need to win five of their last six games to make the playoffs, and they have to go through the tough Milwaukee Brewers, as well as the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Rockies will need some bounces to go their way. But unless Barmes admits he didn’t catch the ball, or karma took the afternoon off on Sunday, Rockies fans may have seen the last fortunate bounce of the season.