Thursday, April 21, 2011

Colorado Rockies head back on the road

Despite their 7-1 road record, it is easy for the Colorado Rockies to find critics.

In one road trip, the Rockies have already done more on the road then they did it 2010. They found a way to win in both Pittsburgh and New York, two places that have given them fits in years past, for whatever reason.

The Rockies were one timely hit away from coming back to Coors Field with a perfect 8-0 record on the road. They played extremely well against both the Pirates and the Mets.

However, despite ending the tradition of struggling in both of those cities, critics are still not sold on the team suddenly being road warriors. It's hard to blame them for being skeptical, a year removed from the club going a miserable 31-50 away from Coors Field.

The critics point to the fact that the Rockies have only been in Pittsburgh and New York, two teams that, to be completely honest, have zero chance of competing for the postseason.

Those arguments are fair. Especially considering the Rockies poor performance on the road a year ago. However, those who pay attention to the team on a daily basis know that, despite the opponent, something is different about this year's Rockies.

Despite being behind in six-of-the-seven victories, the Rockies rallies to win. That alone, regardless of the opponent, is something that would not have happened in 2010. On the road, when the Rockies were behind--even by a run, they folded. They made the opposing pitcher, whether it was Ross Ohlendorf or Pat Minsch, look like Nolan Ryan. In 2011, they are fighting back, finding a way to win close games.

To quiet the critics, the Rockies are going to have to show that their eight-game road trip was no fluke. That means that they are going to have to continue hitting well against both the Marlins and Cubs.

This road trip will certainly be more difficult for the Rockies. On Sunday they face Josh Johnson, a pitcher who has Cy Young stuff, and pitches in a huge park. Had he not been shut down with injury in August of 2010, he would have been a serious contender for the Cy Young in the National League.

With Johnson going on Sunday against a Ubaldo Jimenez who is still a huge question mark as far as health and velocity goes, the Rockies need to strike early. They should have a good chance on Friday with 23-year old Jhoulys Chacin on the mound against Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez is a good pitcher, having thrown a no-hitter, but Chacin has stepped up in the loss of Jimenez as the club's most dependable pitcher over the course of the first month.

On Saturday Esmil Rogers gets his chance to prove that his outing on Monday against the Giants was a fluke. He faces veteran Javier Vazquez, who hasn't lasted past the sixth inning in any of his three starts so far in 2011.

The key for the Rockies is not to press. They don't need to win every game, or even every series, on the road. If they find a way to come back to Coors Field with a 3-3 record on this six game road trip, they will be fine.

Quieting the critics is going to take more than a good road trip against the Pirates and Mets. However, the Rockies don't need to prove their critics wrong by the end of April. If they try to do that, they will get themselves in trouble by pressing too much and feeling as if they can't afford to lose. If they focus on what is important, and find ways to win games that they have a chance to win, they will find themselves in a good position.

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  1. John R -
    No doubt that the Rox have played soft competition on the road so far. However, the Rockies didn't draw up the schedule, and part of being a great team is dominating the lesser competition. Back in '09, I think the Rox beat Washington 8 out of 8 times and they made the playoffs. (Had they dropped even two of those games, they might not have qualified!) THAT is what good teams do!
    But honestly, why is "quieting the critic"s even an issue. Critics almost always have a hidden agenda, and that agenda isn't helping the Rox or hoping that they succeed! It reminds me of Lou Holtz' remarks about problems. He says "Don't mind what people say about you and your problems. 90% of the people don't care, and the other 10% are glad that you got 'em!"

  2. John-
    Thanks for the comment.
    I agree with you...the mark of a good team is beating the teams that they are supposed to beat. No one is going to believe in the Rockies unless they continue their winning ways through September. They will always be written off...and I think you make a good point...who cares? If, in the end, the Rockies are on top of the standings, it won't matter what the critics say.