Just how good are these Colorado Rockies?
This team of youngsters has an 11-game win streak entering the final series of the regular season. They also have the best run differential in the National League, more than 100 more runs scored than any other team in the NL West, and a .615 home winning percentage.
They have the best record in baseball since September 1st. They have the best record in baseball since August 1st. They have the best record in baseball since July 1st. They also have the best record in baseball since June 1st.
"I think they have made a statement," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said of his players. "There's no feeling of urgency to win, but there is an urgency to go out and play well. That's all."
The 2007 Rockies have won more games than any team in franchise history, and have ensured themselves of the best winning percentage in franchise history as well.They have trailed only once in 68 innings in winning all six games of their most recent road trip, and that was briefly. The Dodgers took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fifth Tuesday, but the Rockies came back with two runs to go up 6-5 in the top of the sixth of what became a 9-7 victory.
"I think it says something about what we are doing, that we get up early and maintain a lead," said shortstop and Rookie of the Year favorite Troy Tulowitzki. "When we have had a glitch, we come back right away."
Most of the focus for the Rockies has been on their core of young players led by Tulowitzki, and rightfully so. Matt Holliday, Garrett Atkins, and Brad Hawpe form one of the most potent under-age 30 trio of hitters in all of baseball. But what is sometimes lost along the way is the veteran leadership of Mr. Rockie himself, Todd Helton.
Helton enters the final weekend of the year with a .385 September batting average that includes 18 runs scored and 20 driven in so far this month. He also brings an 11-game hit streak into the Diamondbacks series, and has reached base safely in his past 28 games.
"He has put it in another gear this month," Hurdle said of Helton, the newest member of the 300-homer club. "He has always been a good player, but when you find another gear it is special, and it doesn't get any better than that."
Many people thought that despite the Rockies obviously outstanding offense, that their pitching staff would collapse when ace Aaron Cook hit the 60-day DL on August 11th with a strained right oblique muscle. The Rockie shave done just fine without him, however: their 3.89 ERA after the All-Star break ranks third in all of baseball. This season should easily mark the fewest runs the Rockies have allowed in their 15-year history, barring the strike-shortened 1994 season.
Rookie hotshots Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales have been excellent, while veterans Josh Fogg and Jeff Francis have brought stability to two of the other rotation spots. The fifth starter's spot has been a mess, and journeyman Mark Redman will start a monumental game Saturday against the Diamondbacks. But if the Rockies can grab hold of a playoff spot, Aaron Cook may be healthy enough to return, and they won't need that fifth starter with shortened rotations, anyway.
If the Arizona Diamondbacks can send the Rockies home in this series, they will not only aid their own chances to make the playoffs, but they will help themselves and every other NL team in their efforts to make the World Series. No one is going to want to face these Rockies in the postseason, because the Colorado Rockies are for real.
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