<
>

Rockies hot ... but good, too?

6/16/2009

Bob Nightengale on the planet's hottest baseball team:

    It makes no sense, but then again, neither did their magical run in the fall of 2007.
    The Colorado Rockies, one of the worst teams in baseball the first two months of the season, have suddenly become baseball's hottest team.

    The Rockies won their 11th consecutive game Sunday, tying their franchise record set in September, 2007, with a 7-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners. It's the longest streak in baseball since the Boston Red Sox won 11 in a row on April 15-27.

    "When we were in here saying we had the talent to turn this thing around, we weren't just talking," Rockies first baseman Todd Helton said the other night.

    Yet, who could ever have imagined that this team that was 18-28 when they fired manager Clint Hurdle on May 29, would now be 13-4 under new manager Jim Tracy?

    --snip--

    "I said when I took over that we need to play with an edge," Tracy says. "I have seen that."

    The Rockies' starting rotation has pitched at least six innings in every start in June until Sunday, yielding a 2.49 ERA. They have outscored the opposition, 72-38, and outhit them, .295 to .214. And their bullpen has a 2.70 ERA during the streak, with one victory and five saves.

    The Rockies are so tough these days that tornadoes can't even stop them, enduring a 55-minute delay when tornadoes were spotted in the area Sunday, before going on to complete their sweep of the Mariners.

    "The biggest thing for me is that the mood on the field has changed," Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki told The Denver Post. "Early on in the season, we were expecting bad things to happen. Now, we're expecting good things to happen."

Even after winning 11 straight, the Rockies have just the 10th-best record (31-32) in the National League, so they've still got a fair amount of work to do.
Can they do it? Well, here's one positive indicator: They've actually outscored their opponents by 26 runs. Garrett Atkins -- who seems to have finally lost most of his job -- has been the only zero in the lineup, and the Rockies have a capable replacement in Ian Stewart.

Oddly, despite the loss of Jeff Francis, the starting pitching's been solid, with only Jorge De La Rosa not pitching well (and he's hardly been a disaster).

Are they winning because of Tracy? Well, maybe. But the Rockies probably were underperforming under Hurdle, and I suspect they'd have turned things around whether they'd hired Tracy, or you, or the Ghost of Billy Martin (or, for that matter, if they'd just kept Hurdle around). The Rockies are essentially dead in the West and they've got way too much competition for the wild card.

But they're in the mix. Amazing what an 11-game winning streak in June can do for you.