In round one of Rockies vs. Giants at San Francisco, Colorado won one game out of three. That almost feels like a victory. San Francisco is a hellscape of broken dreams for the Rockies, where they have gone 56-114 since 1993. That is, uh, not good.
Furthermore, the Rockies were at full strength, or just about, during that first series. Jhoulys Chacin was still hurt, and Chatwood wasn't back yet, but the lineup was all there. But, in a harbinger of things to come, it was in SF that Brett Anderson took a pitch off his hand and broke a finger. Poor, always-injured Brett Anderson. We haven't seen him since (Drew Pomeranz watch: 52 innings, 1.90 ERA).
The Rockies held their own for a while after that Giants series; in fact, on May 20 the Rockies defeated the Giants at Coors, bringing them within two games of the NL West pinnacle. We all know what happened shortly after. Nolan Arenado busted his finger down in Atlanta. Cuddyer got hurt. Lyles got hurt. Cargo went under the knife. The bullpen exploded. Yadda yadda yadda, the Rockies lost a lot of games.
In the meantime? The Giants have been unstoppable. Despite just losing three of four to Washington, the Giants are 15-6 since that May 20 contest, resulting in their current 43-24 record. That busted open an 11.5 game lead over the Rockies (and 8.5 over the stagnating Dodgers). In just a three week stretch, the NL West race is all but over.
How have they gotten on this absurd winning pace? Is it just a thing where they always win on even years? Well, as our own RhodeIslandRoxFan sleuthed out, the Giants have been abominably good at elevating their performance in high leverage situations. At the time of that writing, the Giants led the field in production when the game is on the line, both from offensive and pitching perspectives. When a multitude of high leverage hits fall your way, you are gonna win a lot of games. The Giants have been abnormally lucky. But lucky wins count just the same.
Unfortunately, the Giants are both lucky and good. They have eight regulars or semi-regulars with wRC+ numbers above 100. Angel Pagan is a devilishly difficult out at the top of the lineup. Steampunk contraption Hunter Pence is hitting the crap out of the ball. When Brandon Belt went down with a broken finger, Michael Morse stepped in a first base, and he has a 150 wRC+. Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval are both having down years, but they are still producing at an above average rate. Hell, even Rockies castoff Tyler Colvin has a 119 wRC+ (including several big hits against the Rockies last time they met). Why does everything the Giants touch turn to gold?
Speaking of which: Tim Hudson. Yowza. The 68 year old free agent signing owns a 1.89 ERA through 13 starts and nearly 90 innings. The sinker-baller is just clippin' along, inducing grounders 57 percent of the time and allowing a .257 BABIP. Madison Bumgarner is still elite, and Ryan Vogelsong is getting back to his usual solid ways. Sure Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum aren't what they used to be, but when those two are the bottom of your rotation, you sure are living right.
Not to mention that they have only needed five starts from someone outside that crew. The Rockies have NEVER had any point in the season where their starting five was healthy, and right now they have more on the DL than they have active. Giants pitchers just don't go down, except when Matt Cain gets into a fight with cutlery.
Reliever Jean Machi has a 0.31 ERA. What on earth...
The Rockies are clinging by a thread to relevance. Reinforcements will arrive by the end of June. But they cannot lose any more ground on .500 in the interim. We just know the Giants would love to sweep the Rockies right out of 2014 on this road trip; it is imperative to not let that happen. Time to step up boys.
Friday: Jorge De La Rosa vs. Tim Lincecum
Saturday: Christian Bergman vs. Ryan Vogelsong
Sunday: Juan Nicasio vs. Madison Bumgarner