Despite playing awful baseball for a good portion of yesterday's game, the Rockies posted a strong 6-4 mark over an extremely important ten game stretch against the Giants and D'Backs. When this test began, the Rockies had a losing record against every team they played this season with a winning record, so it should go without saying that a 4-3 mark against the Giants and a 2-1 stint against Arizona is a step in the right direction. If they had played poorly, Colorado could have very easily gone about 3-7 in this stretch; a mark that would have landed them five or six games off the division lead depending on who they came against.
Now that they have survived this stretch of games, the key going forward will be to take advantage of several pieces of good news in the upcoming schedule.
1) We may only be 31% of the way through the season, but the Rockies have already played six of their nine games this season in San Francisco, and since this is the place the team is most likely to fall flat on its face, it's good to have most of these meetings out of the way early. Now the Rockies don't have to worry about games in that park again until September 9th. The Giants have posted a 5-1 record against the Rockies in AT&T Park this season, but it's only netted them a one game lead on Colorado. Despite so much head to head success in this setting, San Francisco has so far failed to separate itself from Colorado.
2) After playing 32 of their first 50 games this season (64%) against teams with a winning record, the Rockies will now play just 52 of their final 112 games (46%) against teams who are currently .500 or better. This seems especially advantageous when you consider that Colorado is 14-4 against teams with records below .500. However, this does come with unfortunately side note: 16 of those 60 games against teams below .500 are against the Dodgers who are capable of playing much better baseball than their record indicates, and if you happen to draw Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu in a three game set (which the Rockies are in line to next weekend), well then they suddenly look like a much more formidable opponent. Rockies fans will just have to hope they continue to play the type of baseball that's landed Don Mattingly on the hot seat.
3) On Wednesday, the Rockies begin a stretch where they play 15 out of 18 games at home. If they continue to win series Coors, this presents a tremendous opportunity to take back the division lead.
4) Since Major League Baseball has decided that it's more important to have interleague match ups like Mets vs. Yankees, Cubs vs. White Sox, and Dodgers vs. Angels every single year than it is to have a fair and balanced schedule for everyone within each division, some teams are going to get the shaft while others receive enormous gifts. Well it might as well be Christmas morning for Colorado fans today, because no National League team will get a bigger gift over the next four days than the one the schedule makers handed the Rockies. (Author's Note: This does not include any games Angel Hernandez might blow by making incorrect calls in favor of National League teams.)
Over the next four days, the Rockies will be playing the 14-36 Houston Astros who make plays like this while Arizona plays arguably the best team in baseball in the Texas Rangers, the Giants play a solid Oakland A's club, and the Dodgers play an Angels team that has now won eight in a row. This practice is grossly unfair, and as happy as I am that the Rockies are the beneficiaries of baseball's "Natural Rivals" week, this is the type of thing that can make a difference when you add up all the wins at the end of the season.
With that said however, the Rockies still need to play good baseball if they want to take advantage of this opportunity, and the quotes from the team on that subject in this piece by Thomas Harding are encouraging.
"I've watched quite a few of Houston's games this year, and their record isn't good, but it seems to me they've lost a lot of close games. Plus, we're facing Bud Norris tomorrow, and if you look at his home numbers [3-1, 1.93 ERA in six starts], we've got our work cut out for us. Just because their record is what it is doesn't mean we can take them lightly."
"We can't let anything go to our heads. We have to play those games with the same intensity that we're playing these three games [with the Giants]. We have to keep our momentum. We can't stop pushing the pedal.
Troy Renck has more notes on yesterday's game and an update on Michael Cuddyer who had to exit after getting hit by a pitch.
It's not a subject anyone wants to talk about, but if Todd Helton doesn't start producing at the plate over the next few weeks and the team remains in contention, the Rockies may have no choice but to severely reduce his playing time.
Roger Clemens is still in the news, and it's still for the same wrong reasons.
Retro Rockpile: It's Memorial Day, which makes it the perfect time to reread the wonderful Rockpile Andrew Martin wrote three years ago.