SAN DIEGO, CA - MAY 9: Carlos Gonzalez #5 of the Colorado Rockies, left, Dexter Fowler #24, center, and Michael Cuddyer #3, right, high-five after beating the San Diego Padres 6-2 in a baseball game at Petco Park on May 9, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
The Rockies scored more runs at PETCO yesterday than they have in any road game in 2012; coincidentally, they
held a team meeting beforehand about scoring more on the road. In most of the Rockies road victories in 2012, the team scores between four and six runs. They are averaging just over nine hits in their road W's and usually pick up at least a couple of walks. If we look at the April 25, three hit, two run victory at Pittsburgh as the anomaly it should be, the magic number for times on base by the team would start somewhere around 11 (as was the case in the season opener at Houston) and go up from there. Running into outs, as the team did twice yesterday, would of course push the number higher.
Of course the rule's not perfect, the Rockies have lost once on the road when they've reached base safely 11 times, Tuesday night, in fact, but it does seem to be a good general rule of thumb to look for of a visiting team that has a good chance to win. The Dodgers, for instance, have won eight games while away from LA so far in 2012, and failed to reach base safely 11 times in just one of those victories, a 5-1 win at Wrigley in which they got on base 10 times. Similarly, the Diamondbacks have had eight 2012 road wins, and have pushed over 11 times on base in six of those, getting to 10 total times on base in the other two.
So while Jim Tracy talks about doing all the little things on offense, I hope the Rockies also keep in mind the one big thing: "Get on base." Fox, meet hedgehog.
Christian Friedrich followed Alex White's strong seasonal debut on Tuesday night with a memorable MLB debut of his own. On Sunday, I lamented the Rockies poor draft choices on the starting mound since Jeff Francis, and Friedrich may represent the Rockies best chance of finding an exception to that. As was the case with Jhoulys Chacin, we find another case of Dan O'Dowd questioning a young starter's work ethic during the off-season, but unlike the case with Chacin, we seem to have a pitcher who has really used that to motivate a transformation.
If Friedrich and White show in the coming weeks that they're for real, and not just using PETCO and a somewhat weak Padres offense to play with our perceptions, the Rockies should be a step closer to that transformation from pretender to contender that we're waiting for. At a minimum, the Rockies will absolutely need two of their young pitchers to be better than Jamie Moyer to compete (if Jeremy Guthrie and Jorge De La Rosa can't be better than Moyer, they'll need four.)
This will be an interesting road series for the Rockies, as thus far 2012 has not broken the Rockies way, but it has gone very much in favor of Los Angeles. So while at the beginning of the season, the two teams' odds of winning the NL West division were roughly in the same ballpark, right now the Dodgers clearly have a considerable edge in that department. The Rockies need the divisional picture to be a lot muddier than it currently is if they want their "hang close and sprint late" path to the divisional title to remain open, meaning there will be an unusual amount of early May pressure to win this series. A sweep by the Dodgers could bury Colorado in a too deep hole to dig out of.