For most of the season, the Colorado Rockies have been like a hamster in a wheel, running hard but getting nowhere. When the pitching was good, the hitting was absent, and when the team got hits, the pitchers fell apart.

The Rockies have been four or five games away from first place in their division, but now, after sweeping the powerful St. Louis Cardinals at Coors Field, they have a chance to tie for first place by the All-Star break.

Leading the way for the Rockies yesterday was Ubaldo Jimenez (pictured), who bounced back after a few rough outings to become the first major-league pitcher since 2000 to claim 15 wins before the All-Star break (via The Associated Press).

“It says a lot about the depth and talent of the organization,” manager Jim Tracy tells The Denver Post. “Nobody made any excuses.”

The Rockies will take on the San Diego Padres in a three-game set at Coors Field starting tonight. If they sweep the Padres, they tie for first. Taking the mound will be Jorge De La Rosa, one of last year’s studs who hasn’t pitched this year since late April, when he tore a tendon in his left middle finger.

In his efforts to return to form, he has teammate Huston Street’s recovery to inspire him. ESPN says Street is poised to be dominant in the second half of the season. He’s already retired 21 of the 22 batters he’s faced since his return just a few weeks ago.