Back in April–approximately ten years ago in pandemic time–the Rockies beat the Astros on back-to-back days at Coors Field, knocking in six runs each game for a pair of solid victories. Fast forward four months and Houston’s gents flipped the script on the Rockies to even the season series with two convincing victories.
There’s much to be said about the baseball that occurred (Jon Gray was good, the offense was terrible, etc.), but I’m here to look at a different issue: how people feel about the Astros as we get further and further away from their cheating scandal, exposed following the 2019 MLB season.
The Astros have taken their fair share of heat for their wrongdoings and justifiably so. At the same time, however, they were lucky that they got to play a season without fans in 2020. Not only could the crowd not let them hear it whenever they went on the road, but everybody had more important things to worry about.
From a baseball standpoint, the findings from MLB’s investigation had only been out a couple of months when MLB abruptly paused Spring Training was and sent players home. At that point, the state of the world and staying healthy on an individual level took priority over baseball, let alone the Astros’ mischief.
Although fans are back in the stands this year, it appears as if fans have moved on from the scandal for the most part. Sure, there’s been a trash can joke here, a buzzer comment there, but from my time on the Twitterverse over the last couple of days during the games, there just wasn’t much talk of all that.
Aside from the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic, a few factors stand out to me for why this. For one, the Rockies don’t have any strong connection to the Astros, aside from facing off with them four times this season. Different divisions, different leagues, and different levels of baseball quality these days.
Second, the Astros haven’t had Alex Bregman, one of the faces of the 2017 World Series-winning and 2019 World Series losing teams, for much of this season. He’s featured in just 59 games this year and hasn’t gotten a chance to be the player that finished second in MVP voting to Mike Trout in 2019. George Springer, another staple in those successful years, has headed north to the Blue Jays.
Lastly, the Astros have shown that, even without cheating, they’re a pretty darn good baseball team. They pushed the Tampa Bay Rays to game 7 of the American League Championship Series in the shortened 2020 season despite falling behind 3-0 in the series. This year, they’ve gone 67-46, good for first in the American League West and the fifth-best record in all of baseball.
Undoubtedly they were helped by the trash can banging and (alleged) buzzer system, but you can’t argue against the fact that they’re a good team without all that. It’s one of the things that makes what they did so much worse to me. I actually liked the team and a lot of their players before all of this came out. They had loads of talent and had shown off how to run a successful rebuild. The Rockies should take notes on that part. Just leave out all the cheating.
No fans of this era will forget what the Astros did anytime soon, but it seems as if the baseball world has started to move past it...hiring a manager as likable as Dusty Baker sure doesn’t hurt.
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It’s no secret that the Rockies don’t seem to have any direction as an organization, but that doesn’t mean fans and journalists alike aren’t going to try and make suggestions! Noah Yingling over at Rox Pile nailed it, in my opinion, by saying the club needs to focus on signing Jon Gray, Austin Gomber, and Ryan McMahon to extensions soon. Those three guys will be significant parts of the next competitive Rockies team (if they stay), and ensuring that they’ll be in Colorado in the long term is essential to the squad’s future.
Power Rankings may be more fun when your team is hovering around the top ten, but hey, I’m happy with the Rockies jumping to 21st in Bleacher Report’s latest list. Last week’s five wins came against two of baseball’s less impressive teams (The Miami Marlins and the Chicago Cubs), but that doesn’t mean the Rockies don’t deserve recognition for the Ws. The two-game sweep by the Astros wasn’t the best start to the week, but a four-game set with the MLB best San Francisco Giants means the Rockies could sneak into the top 20 with a good weekend.
On the farm
Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 3, Binghamton Rumble Ponies 0
The Yard Goats and the Rumble Ponies held each other scoreless for six full innings off of their starting pitching, but Hartford came out on top. Hartford starter Matt Dennis allowed four hits but no runs in six innings of work while striking out three, and the bullpen kept the Rumble Ponies off the board for the remainder of the game. The Yard Goats’ offense was just 1-for-11 with RISP, but the three runs they plated were enough thanks to the pitching. Center fielder Jameson Hannah hit a home run in the eighth inning, and shortstop Jose Gomez was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
High-A: Spokane Indians 6, Tri-City Dust Devils 0
Spokane’s starting pitcher Mitchell Kilkenny earned his sixth win of the season on an eight inning shutout effort, allowing five hits and striking out five. Fineas Del Bonta-Smith closed out the night by striking out the side in the ninth inning. At the plate, the Indians held an offensive parade by putting up six runs on eleven hits. Recently promoted Grant Lavigne and Daniel Montano were the stars of the show. Lavigne was 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs and slugged his first home run at the High-A level. Montano was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 4, Stockton Ports 3
Promising big man Tony Locey made his fifth and longest start of the season by pitching five innings while allowing two runs on four hits. He walked three batters but also struck out seven. The Grizzlies put up 12 hits, with Mateo Gil, Eddy Diaz, Zac Veen, Warming Bernabel, and Drew Romo all having multi-hit games. Bernabel hit a solo home run, while Diaz and Gil both had RBIs late in the game to tie things up and send it to extras. Fresno reliever Robinson Hernandez loaded the bases with a walk and a hit batter, but managed to slam the door shut on the Ports without a run scoring and give the Grizzlies a chance to walk it off in the bottom of the tenth inning. With runners on first and second with no outs, Drew Romo singled on a deep fly ball to center field to plate the winning run.
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