Jack Etkin writes about how yesterday's 11-1 victory marked a return to form of a couple of the dominant wins the Rockies saw in the first week. His standard of seven runs or more is sort of cherry-picked, if he chose five or six runs, for instance, the team has had more success with those in recent weeks.
The Rockies are now 5-1 in games which are decided by five runs or more. This is still a very good sign. In 2008, the Atlanta Braves were the only NL team to have a winning record in blowouts but a losing record overall. The reason? An 11-30 record in one run games. This is a very bad sign. The Braves started out going 0-9 in one run games in the first month. Sound familiar?
From my perspective, the one-run losses say one of two things about this team. One, the Rockies are an eyelash away from being good. Two, they will never be good in 2009. Over time, good teams discover ways to win tight games; bad teams find ways to give them away.
At first I misread that and thought he had already pronounced the season over and done with, as some have. Then I reread and saw that Saunders is saying the same thing that I think, that the Rockies can be very good in 2009 or they could just miss the rest of the year. The team has to start clawing out victories in close ballgames, by hook, crook or whatever it takes if they intend to be taken seriously as a contender (if not the NL West, at least the Wild Card) in 2009.
A couple of things I do know, the right elements for a winning team are falling into place now. Over the last two weeks the Rockies rank second in the majors in ERA and third in runs scored. For the sabermetrically inclined to show that the numbers aren't a complete mirage, the team ranks third wOBA and FIP over that span. No other team can boast a top five ranking on both sides like that, so the big question is why all this strong performance has the team only going .500 (6-6) in that time frame?
From Etkin's article:
“We’ve had 11 victories and in seven of them, we’ve scored nine runs or more,” Hurdle said. “So the ability to ignite is there, but the consistency is what we’re striving to be better with throughout the lineup and throughout games. So the gaps aren’t as big where we’re scoring a lot and we aren’t scoring”
The Rockies need a winning streak, and with the way the Dodgers have been shooting out of the gun, the winning streak needs to be a pretty long one, frankly. While LA has clearly won the first month of the season, their next month is going to be a bit more brutal, with lots of road games to contenders, a tricky interleague schedule and a few games with revenge minded NL West teams as well. Dave Cameron's right in that LA is not likely to go .500 over the rest of the season, but them going .500 with road games at Chicago (both Cubs and White Sox) Philly, New York, Texas and Anaheim over these next 30 is easier to consider.
If another NL West team can make up four games on LA in that span, the race will be back on, if not, it would be very difficult to see how any of the other teams take the division this year.
Mark Kiszla writes about Todd Helton's use of a hyperbaric chamber to help control his back pain. Whatever's working, Todd, just please continue doing that.
Chris Iannetta's power surge isn't planned. Matt Daley's big league education has its ups and downs, and other notes are here.