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Sunday Rockpile: Weekend Notes

The schedule getting easier and Todd Helton nearing 2,500 hits are among the most interesting topics on this final Sunday in August.

Marc Serota

Just a few notes as the Rockies wrap up their second ten game east coast road trip of the month today.

First, in probably the least surprising news ever, our boys in purple still have not figured how to translate success at Coors Field to the road.  Depending on the results of today's game, the Rockies will either finish this double east coast road trip dip at 5-15 or 4-16, or to put it another way, the exact number of games the team is under .500 on the overall season.

With a win today, the Rockies would capture just their second road series win since June 5th, but it also would still give them a slightly better shot at an 80 win season as the schedule turns more favorable down the stretch.  Even though the teams they will be facing at home get rather difficult once you get passed the Giants, the Rockies have shown time and time again that who they play is not nearly as important as where they play them.

For instance, the Rockies are 8-4 this season when playing the NL division leading Dodgers, Braves, and Pirates at home, but have shown an inability to beat teams like the Mets and Phillies on the road with their recent 1-6 slide against those two clubs.  With 18 of the next 27 at home however, and three of the road games being played at the Rockies home away from home in Petco Park, it does seems like a strong finish to the season is at least possible.

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One thing that would help make a strong finish a reality would be the return of key pieces from the DL.  Fortunately, both Tyler Chatwood and Carlos Gonzalez are taking steps towards getting back on the field.  Neither is expected back in the immediate future, but we should see both of these players on the field in Denver again before the 2013 season wraps up.

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With his two hit performance yesterday, Todd Helton now has 2,496 knocks in his career and has put himself in excellent position to reach the 2,500 hit milestone on the upcoming nine home stand.  Jerry Crasnick wrote a strong piece about the Toddfather's career quietly nearing an end yesterday, but I have a feeling that once he gets to number 2,500, the sentimental stuff is going to pick up real quick.

If you have a chance to buy a ticket on the next next home stand, I strongly suggest you do it if it has a chance to be Todd's 2,500 hit game.  It may be the very last truly great moment of his storied career.

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Rafael Betancourt's injury is hitting his mates in the pen emotionally, but it also will have it's physical impact on the games in a rather unusual place.  The Rockies actually won't miss Betancourt (who goes for an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the damage to his elbow) in the ninth inning.  Rex Brothers may even represent a slight upgrade in closing out games.

The real issue is going to come with the depth of the bullpen.  With Belisle an Brothers now confined to the eighth an ninth innings, starters must go seven innings deep with their 100 pitch limit to cut the middle relievers out of the game.  Betancourt's injury moves everyone up one spot in the Colorado bullpen hierarchy, and as a result, the sixth and seventh innings now become very dicey.

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Troy Renck talks about Ryan Braun's "hollow" apology in the majority of his Sunday feature but also has a couple of interesting quotes near the bottom on two other subjects.

One is from Wilin Rosario who said he doesn't mind getting some playing first base to get his bat in the lineup more often and the other is from Tulo who refuses to use injury as an excuse for his poor performance in early August and insists that his struggles before his ten game hitting streak which was snapped in unlucky fashionwas just a slump you run into over the course of a long season.

"I know people think I am finally healthy. That wasn't it. I just wasn't very good. It's that simple. It coincided with me coming back from injury. I was working through a slump."

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And finally, in perhaps the most amusing article of the week, Larry Granillo takes a detailed look at how well the home team performs when a kitty cat runs onto the field.  The results are mixed, so anyone who was thinking about sending SDcat09 on a mission to run onto the field at Petco Park the next time the Rockies visit the Padres in a pennant race is going to have to go back to the drawing board.