Monday Rockpile: A giant step forward or a Giant step backward?

Dustin Bradford

The Rockies were able to take three straight games from the Giants over the weekend; but what does it mean?

When the Rockies blew a 6-0 lead Thursday night and fell 8-6 to the Giants, it marked their 10th straight loss and their 31st defeat in their last 40 games against San Francisco dating back to the beginning of 2011. The Rockies failure to beat the Giants during this stretch isn't too surprising as Colorado spent most of this time suffering through 89 and 98 loss seasons, but the level of San Francisco's dominance was immensely discouraging. For the better part of two years, the team by the Bay had done nothing but push the Rockies around to the point of embarrassment, including taking 12 of the last 14 games in Denver heading into game two of this series.

But on Friday night, just as it felt like the Giants were about to get their paintbrushes out and cover Coors Field in black and orange, the Rockies finally pushed back; and perhaps more amazingly, it came in the most unlikely of circumstances. With Colorado trailing 4-0, facing by far San Francisco's best starter so far this season in Madison Bumgarner, and having collected just one hit in their last 25 at bats going back to the 3rd inning of Thursday's game, it was as if they had finally reached their breaking point and flipped a switch. All the anger, all the envy, and all the rage that built up over two years felt like it was released in a nine run offensive explosion capped by the Jordan Pacheco grand slam in the 5th inning.

It was something the Rockies desperately needed. It only counted for one game in the standings, but it sent a clear message that the Rockies were no longer going to tolerate the Giants coming into their building and making themselves comfortable. By the time the series ended, the Giants had lost more games at Coors in a 48 hour period than they had in the previous 730 days combined!

It also put the Rockies on a path to achieve the 2009 blueprint of "beat the Giants at home to offset your struggles in San Francisco". Take a look at the Rockies record against the Giants in each season since the start of 2009 and how it breaks down by ballpark.

2009: 8-10 (2-7 at AT&T, 6-3 at Coors)

2010: 9-9 (4-5 at AT&T, 5-4 at Coors)

2011: 5-13 (2-7 at AT&T, 3-6 at Coors)

2012: 4-14 (2-7 at AT&T, 2-7 at Coors)

2013: 3-4 (0-3 at AT&T, 3-1 at Coors)

This is why taking three out of four from the Giants at Coors was so important. There was a time not all that long ago where this place gave the Giants nightmares. The Spillyslam game, the 15 innings on the 4th of July in 2010, and who could forget this game? These are the types of things the Rockies need to have the Giants thinking about when they come to Coors. It's the only weapon they have that can counteract the spell the Giants put on their bats when they head to AT&T.

* * * * * *

Of course, this isn't all about the Rockies. Part of what happened this weekend was a direct result of the Giants pitching staff coming unglued. There were signs of trouble during the first 35 games or so of the season, but the wheels completely fell off on this last road trip to Toronto and Denver. Here's the pitching lines of the starters for those six games...

Zito: 5.2 IP, 12 hits, 8 runs (five earned)

Vogelsong: 2.0 IP, 6 hits, 8 runs (three earned)

Cain: 6.1 IP, 8 hits, 6 runs (all earned)

Bumgarner: 4.2 IP, 8 hits, 9 runs (seven earned)

Lincecum: 5 IP, 7 hits, 6 runs (all earned)

Zito: 5.2 IP, 11 hits, 5 runs (all earned)

This road trip was so bad for the Giants rotation that their starters (as a group) now have the second highest ERA of any N.L. team at 4.87. Only the Brewers at 5.19 rank worse. Perhaps the most delicious comparative statistic for Rockies fans though is that Colorado's rotation now has a 4.38 ERA, especially when you consider what AT&T and Coors are doing to these numbers.

One last thought on the Giants. We've talked quite a bit about the importance of the current stretch of games for the Rockies that continues tonight against the division leading D'Backs, but the Giants also began an extremely important stretch of games last Thursday in which they play 26 out of 28 against teams with records above .500. Here's what the rest of that group of games looks like...

3 vs. Nationals

3 vs. Rockies

2 @ A's

2 vs. A's

3 @ Cardinals

2 vs. Blue Jays

3 @ D'Backs

3 @ Pirates

3 @ Braves

If the Giants truly are vulnerable, it should start showing up in the standings right here. This is the league's best chance in a long time to inflict pain and suffering on this team. However, if the Giants get through these next four weeks relatively unscathed, then everyone else in the N.L. West should be extremely concerned about their chances to win the division.

Links

There were couple of interesting articles on Troy Tulowitzki over the weekend. One linked in yesterday's Rockpile from Troy Renck about Tulo's new normal when it comes to preparing for each game and another on that ridiculous tweet from Chipper Jones a couple of weeks back.

Patrick Sounders has some notes on Roy Oswalt's extended spring training game and the Rockies plan for him going forward.

I almost feel bad getting this deep into the Rockpile without mentioning Juan Nicasio's outstanding performance. Fortunately, there's a link that gives him his much deserved tip of the hat for yesterday's outing.

Walt Weiss says he hasn't worried about the team's slump headed into the weekend.

Denver's local CBS 4 has a small piece on Nolan Arenado and his brief experience with the big club so far.

Wilton Lopez has very quietly put together a 2.25 ERA with 9 K's and just 3 BB's in his last 15 outings and he thinks he's finding his groove.

Thomas Harding notes that Michael Cuddyer should be ready to come off the DLand into the lineup on Friday in San Francisco.

If you didn't see how the Astros lost on Friday night, it's worth checking out - And if you did see how they lost, it's worth checking out again.

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