Last week was bad, but, let’s face it, it could have been worse.
A 2-4 road trip is never anything to write home about, but at least the Padres and Dodgers are good teams and exactly two members of our Opening Day rotation were pitching for the Rockies this week (and, of course, one of those two was Josh Fogg.) We won two games with rookie starting pitchers on the mound — on the flipside, we lost two games with Jeff Francis on the mound. There were quite a few negatives — the nine-run fifth inning against the Padres on Wednesday, Jorge Julio blowing saves on consecutive days, that ugly, ugly, ugly outing by Francis on Tuesday.
The positive was that even on the road, and even in two of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in baseball, the offense showed up. The team scored 26 runs in six games, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but given the context it should have been enough for a 3-3 or 4-2 road trip.
This week offers a great chance to make up for that trip and gain some ground in the division. Yes, the Pirates and Nationals are coming to Coors Field this week! First of all, we can be fairly certain that Rockies fans will outnumber the opposition’s fans in the stands this week. The Pirates and Nationals are two teams that have the same kind of pitching issues as the Rockies, but without the offense. Tonight’s starting pitching matchup is Matt Morris against Ubaldo Jimenez. Morris has given up five runs in each of his three starts as a Pirate. Tuesday’s matchup is Elmer Dessens vs. Tony Armas, the rare pitching matchup involving Elmer Dessens that favors Elmer Dessens. Wednesday is Josh Fogg vs. Tom Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny is the de facto ace of the Pirates staff, which really isn’t saying much, but an 11-7 record and a 3.48 ERA is nothing to laugh at. On the other hand, this will be Tom’s first trip to Coors Field. That leaves Thursday, which will match Franklin Morales against Paul Maholm. After one start in the majors, Frankie may already be better than Maholm. Maholm’s not terrible, but he’s not really that good, either.
And then there are the Nationals, who are actually worse than their 55-69 record (51-73 Pythag.) In a really quick look-ahead, it should be Jeff Francis against Shawn Hill and his 2.43 ERA (are you kidding?) on Friday; Ubaldo vs. Tim Redding and his 2.88 ERA (again, are you kidding?) on Saturday; and Dessens vs. Joel Hanrahan and his 2.95 ERA (triple are you kidding — and who is Joel Hanrahan?) on Sunday. The Nationals’ rotation may be better than I initially thought, or else they’re really not that good and RFK is just so pitcher-friendly that it’s making these guys look good. I’m betting on the latter, and that these guys will get shelled at Coors.
So why is this a good week to make up ground? Well, because the Pirates and Nationals are coming to town — and anything less than 5-2 will be a disappointment. The division-leading Diamondbacks are at home as well, but they’ll be playing the Brewers and Cubs. The Dodgers and Padres are both headed for the East Coast to play the Mets and the Phillies. Yes, that’s right: while they’re playing the Mets (70-53) and Phillies (65-58), we’re playing the Pirates (52-70) and the Nationals (55-69). This could be fun.