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Rockies Retro: Interleague play

As the Rockies open the interleague portion of their 2009 schedule tonight at Detroit, they carry an all-time record of 83-95 against the AL, so history clearly has not been on their side (although during the last three seasons, things have gone quite well considering the Rockies have a winning interleague record while the rest NL has been completely owned by the AL). Here's a year-by-year summary of Colorado's interleague history:

1997: 9-7

The Rockies posted a winning record in interleague play during its first season. They played strictly AL West opponents that year, and ended up having to reel off six straight victories during the final round of interleague play (in late-August/early-September) to avoid finishing under-.500 against the American League.

1998: 4-8

Colorado lost its first five interleague games (3 at Anaheim and 2 to Texas at Coors Field) before winning 4 out of their last 7. The Rox were outscored by 15 runs and had a 6.04 ERA.

1999: 4-8

'99 was pretty much a repeat of the previous year as far as interleague play goes, although this time the Rox lost 5 out of their last 6 games (as opposed to the slow start/strong finish in '98). The pitching was just as awful too; Rockies hurlers posted a 6.06 ERA in 12 games against the American League West.

2000: 6-6

Four of Colorado's interleague losses came during an 11-game losing streak that knocked them out of first place, and ultimately, out of the playoff race. They were swept at Anaheim (and outscored 28-10) and lost the first game of a home series against Oakland before finally breaking through and snapping the streak. To offset the sweep at the hands of the Angels, the Rox swept the Rangers at Coors Field in June.

2001: 2-10

A miserable time was had by all during the four interleague series played by the Rox in '01. They were swept at home by the Angels and suffered the same fate at Oakland, in addition to losing two out of three at home to the Mariners and at the Ballpark at Arlington against the Rangers. Colorado had a 6.38 ERA and was outscored by 25 runs against the four AL West clubs.

2002: 7-11

While playing their largest amount of games against the American League since 1997, the Rox played AL teams outside of the western division for the first time, and it did not go well whatsoever.  They were outscored by 34 runs it could have been a lot worse had the Rox not drawn Tampa for a three-game series at Coors Field in which they were able to sweep the fledgling Rays. A 20-10 loss to the Yankees and an 8-0 loss at Toronto were lowlights of the interleague season for Colorado.

2003:  9-6

The Rockies didn't greet the AL Central kindly in 2003, sweeping the Indians and taking 4 of 6 overall from the Tigers (and dropping series to Kansas City and Minnesota in between).  Had the Rox not lost a 15-3 decision to the Twins, they would have handily outscored their opponents in interleague play.

2004: 8-10

Colorado reverted back to their losing ways against the American League, losing six straight games on the road to the Yankees and Rays out of the gates. They were able to somewhat salvage their interleague season by winning their two home series over Boston and Baltimore, respectively.  Overall, the Rox finished 7-2 in interleague home games, but just 1-8 on the road (which we all know, is the story of the franchise to date).

2005: 7-9

In the midst of their worst season since 1993, the Rox were swept twice during the interleague portion of their campaign, dropping all six games they played against the White Sox and Indians. They were able to get a sweep of their own over the Royals though, allowing them to avoid a total interleague disaster.

2006: 11-4

The upstart Rockies were the National League's only bright spot during interleague play in '06; the rest of the senior circuit went a combined 87-150 against the AL. The Rockies didn't just get lucky, either - they absolutely dominated the American League, outscoring them 88-46 while winning each of their five series (four over AL West teams and one over Toronto). The Rox hit .283/.369/.445 in those games, while the pitching staff posted a 2.96 ERA.

2007: 10-8

The Rockies started off scorching hot against the AL for the second straight season, taking two out of three from both the Orioles and Red Sox out on the road, then proceeding to take two of three from the Rays and all three from the Yankees in Denver. These Rockies were especially impressive due to the stiffer competition they faced in interleague play. However, that excitement was tempered just a bit after they suffered a three-game sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays (which if I recall correctly, was the start of the "Road Trip from Hell." And yes, I conveniently forgot to mention the series against the Royals at Coors Field in which the Rockies rather frustratingly lost two out of three.

2008: 7-8

Although they were able to outscore the opposition (albeit barely), the Rockies still wound up with a sub-.500 record in interleague play last season. A disastrous road trip which saw the Rox get swept in Kansas City and in Detroit was mostly to blame, since they had been 7-2 against the AL Central prior to that trip.

All-time Rockies interleague performers include Larry Walker (career .346 average), Todd Helton (career .905 OPS), and Josh Fogg (5-1, 3.63 ERA while with Colorado; who's for a Fogg call up sometime during the next couple of weeks?).