Hail the Conquering Heroes!
Rox Fan in NY will put up the actual game thread later, but I did want to give a backdrop for our next series. Through nine games we are all rightfully excited about our team this year: six and three and leading the NL West. Yes, skeptics will say it's only nine games and it doesn't mean anything, and that we're getting ahead of ourselves, but that's not entirely true either. Nine games amount to five and a half percent of the season, no small chunk of change in a division that doesn't have a clear favorite. Here's the other thing, all nine of those games were against divisional opponents, meaning each victory or defeat affected the team's standing in two directions. Let's face it, the Rockies are not going to win the Wild Card, their only hope for the playoffs is by taking it to their NL West foes.
But still, what, if anything, of importance can we learn from these nine games about the team's chances?
Well, a good way to start is to see if there's some measure you can compare the team's performance to. One place to do that would be to look at last year. It's important to compare apples to apples, so instead of just running through the first nine games of 2005, I'm going to break it down a little differently comparing only the corresponding series with the same teams (i.e. the first three each of home and road vs. AZ, and the first three at SD):
Arizona through 6 games
Three At Coors: Rockies 14, Diamondbacks 12
Three at the park then known as BOB: Rockies 4, D-backs 11
overall vs AZ: Rockies 18 D-backs 23
San Diego through 3 games at Petco: Rockies 12 Padres 15
Overall nine games: Rockies 30 Opponents 38
through the same nine games, the first three and three vs. Arizona, and our first three at San Diego, our record was 1-8. Despite the record, the tight run differential shows that we were at least a little unlucky. Well, this year our luck has changed:
Arizona through 6 games:
Three at Coors: Rockies 10 D-backs 18
Three at the Chafe: Rockies 15 D-backs 13
overall vs AZ Rockies 25 (+39%) D-backs 31(+35%)
San Diego through 3 games at Petco: Rockies 32 (+167%) Padres 12 (-20%)
Overall nine games: Rockies 57(+90%) Opponents 43(+13.2%)
The results might be a little surprising. First of all, against Arizona we have been essentially unchanged in run differential. Our pitching staff on the whole is actually giving up more runs this year in the early going, while our own scoring is up ninety percent because we have plated thirty-one more runs on the road at this point this year than we had last year. So, who going into the season would have said almost entirely all of our improvement would be due to better hittng on the road? Not many, I would assume, just looking at the season previews I've seen and recalling my own thoughts. Flukey? Certainly. We aren't going to keep up the pace of averaging five more runs of offense per game on road trips, but the five games gained in the standings from it now is priceless.
So here we are back at Coors for a three game set versus Philadelphia (for those of you now wondering, we were outscored 15 to 21 in our first three home games versus the Phillies last year) and it would be nice if we carried the mo' back with us on the plane. The games are going to be chilly, so expect offense to be down a little. For this series we will definitely need the pitching staff to clamp down on the Phils.