Rockies Magic Number

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Folks, you witnessed History

Date: 6/21/2006
Position: T-3rd NL West
Games Back: 1.5
Elimination Number: 91

Through Jason Jennings, Tom Martin, and Brian Fuentes, the Rockies pitched their first-ever 1 hitter. Jennings struck out 6, walked 6, got himself out of a massive bases-loaded situation in the top of the first, and while he didn't have his best stuff going, it was good enough to nearly no-hit the A's. The only hit the A's managed was in the top of the 1st to A's catcher Jason Kendall, a leadoff shot that Brad Hawpe dived for, caught, only to have slip out of his glove on the ensuing roll.

This marks 22 straight scoreless innings from the Rockies.

Coming into Monday's game, the Rockies had just gotten off a 4-3 road trip, which constituted a sweep of the Nationals and a sweep from the Cardinals. Every had been excited by the offensive prowess the Rockies showed over the wayward Nationals, and then immediately quieted by the mere 7 runs scored against St. Louis over the 3 game series.

Judging by the sweep the A's completed over the (former) NL-West Best Dodgers, contributing to the A's 10-game winning streak, everybody tuned into Coors Field not knowing what to expect.

I'm sure nobody expected that the A's would not be able to score a run against the Rockies in two games.

I also doubt that anyone expected the Rockies to outscore a seemingly superior AL-West team by 13 runs in two games, either.

The Rockies have slowly started to do what they needed to do against StL, and that's strike early. Monday, Matt Holliday pounded a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 1st to send the Rockies to an early 2-0 lead.

Last night, Todd Helton doubled down the left field line to bring in Jamey Carroll, and give the Rox a 1-0 lead.

While the Rockies have only been striking small early in the game, and waiting until later innings to add to that lead. While it'd be good to see 4-5 runs in the first 3 innings, I think that 1 or 2 in the first is a good start. The early strike will put the other team immediately back on their heels, and offer an early turn for the Rox. Combined with good starting pitching, as well as the still-stellar bullpen, these kinds of formulas can, quite often, lead to wins, and eventually, the division.

While it was noted in previous writings that the Rockies have trouble beating tougher teams, the Athletics were on top of the AL West, with winning records against the rest of the AL West and the ever-dangerous AL East. What does it mean, however? Are the A's one of those big teams that the Rockies usually struggle against, or are these last 2 wins stereotypical of another weak western division team? Was the A's sweep of the Dodgers a fluke, or are the legitimately better than than LA?

Whatever it is, I couldn't be more pleased with the team's performance these past two games. The only player last night who didn't have a hit was Brad Hawpe, but he still drew 2 walks. The team is showing an offensive upturn, Helton's starting to look like Helton again, and The Rockies are starting to win again.

Tonight, Aaron Cook (5-7, 3.66) will hope to get another win to go with his excellent pitching, and Barry Zito (8-3, 8.51) will try and stop this interleague sweep. Zito has seen his ERA jump from 2.87 to 3.51 in his past 3 starts, allowing 5 or more runs in 2 of them. Cook's ERA has remained in the mid 3's pretty much all season.

So Here's to the Rockies, may they again strike early and often, and sweep the Athletics at home. So until then, sportsfans, Good afternoon, Good Luck, and GO ROCKIES!!!


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