|De La Rosa continued to surprise on Wednesday.|
It might be time for the critics to admit it, myself included. This Rockies team might be for real. The main reason this team might be able to go the full six months and stay in contention is simple. When things go bad, they respond by playing better. They don't give in. They believe that they are good.
The Rockies went 10-18 in May of 2012, effectively ending any chance they had of respectability. In May of 2011, they won just eight games, going 8-21. With that track record, it is understandable why the skepticism was at an all-time high when the Rockies started off May with a 5-9 record and seemed to be in free fall mode for the third straight May.
During the bad streak, the offense, not the starting pitching, was struggling. The lineup was the hyped up part of the 2013 club. Even the toughest of critics knew that the offense would do well at the plate and score runs. When they were getting beat up, thinking that the Rockies prospects looked bleak would be an understatement.
The struggles culminated when Jhoulys Chacin, the Rockies ace, allowed the Giants to crawl back into a game that the Rockies held a 6-0 lead in. It was a game that could have been the defining moment of when the team officially packed it in.
Instead, the Rockies came out the next night and blasted their way to victory. They put the heartbreak behind them and won the next three games. Had they not run into a Cy Young candidate in Patrick Corbin on Monday night, the Rockies very well may have swept the final six games of the homestand.
With the victory on Wednesday afternoon, the Rockies move into a three-way tie with San Francisco and Arizona. A three-game series in San Francisco over the weekend becomes very important for the Rockies.
Suddenly, the calendar is quickly approaching Memorial Day. That day is symbolic for baseball fans because, as the cliche goes, that is the day when fans are allowed to look at the standings and actually take them seriously. It has given the season a full two months for teams to have good starts, then cool down, or have bad starts, but square things away.
For the Rockies, a team that was picked by almost everyone to be terrible, will be no worse than three games out of first place when Memorial Day morning arrives.
What has fueled the sudden success of this Rockies team? On the field, it clearly has been starting pitching that has been far better than anyone expected. Jorge De La Rosa came into the season as a huge question mark after missing the better half of two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery. Chacin, despite losing focus in his past two starts, has been much better than expected. Jeff Francis and Jon Garland have both struggled, but have each had their fair share of good starts as well. Juan Nicasio hasn't been great, but has managed to keep the team in the game when he starts.
The Rockies offense, despite struggling for two weeks, is good enough to win plenty of games if the starting rotation is serviceable. The starters have been that, and more, for the team so far.
The greatest difference, however, that has led to the early success of these Rockies hasn't been the offensive prowess that they have displayed. It has been a change in mindset. It is hard to quantify intangible factors, but observers would be crazy not to recognize the fact that this team doesn't roll over and give in the way the team did in 2011 and 2012. Last year in particular, when the Rockies lost a tough game it was almost a given that they would have a bad showing the next few days. They would play lethargic and they seemed to be going through the motions.
Early on, fans have been so used to that from this team that they expected it. Much to their surprise, this team hasn't buried themselves after a bad game, a bad series, or a bad week. They come back to the ballpark ready to play. They aren't concerned with who is on the mound for them, or how many runs they need to put up on a nightly basis, they simply play the game and play it hard.
The Rockies might not win the division, but when Memorial Day arrives, there won't be any doubt that they are contenders.
Whatever ends up happening, their isn't a Rockies fan alive who could honestly say that they aren't thrilled with the early results from 2013. This is a team that has far exceeded expectations. Even those that thought they might be good didn't expect them to be on pace for 92 wins.
For those who have been on the fence, it might be time to jump on the Rockies bandwagon. It might hurt at the end of the season, but it looks like the ride is going to be a fun one.
Follow me on Twitter @RockiesReview. Like me on Facebook, search "Rockies Review"