Sweeping swingin Rocks’ mood

Jun 26, 2007 4:41 AM

Colorado Rockies fans would like to just sweep this past week under the rug.

What began so very promising with a three-game bludgeoning of the mighty Yankees at Coors Field where the Rockies staff allowed just five runs turned into a swift cold snap North of the Border. Call immigration!

Dustin McGowan’s one-hit gem on Sunday completed a 5-0 victory for Toronto and a three-game sweep. Jeff Baker’s single to lead off the ninth saved Colorado the indignity of being no-hit, but dropped the Rocks to 38-37 after posting the majors top record the last month at 20-7 entering the series.

All that had gone so right in Denver, particularly Jeff Francis’ brilliant victory in outpitching Roger Clemens, went all downhill before you could say Canada Dry.

Not that Toronto is bad, in fact the Jays themselves reached the .500 mark with Sunday’s victory. The fear for Colorado is that the team is reverting back to its reputation for being a perennial loser away from Coors Field. Colorado was an encouraging 17-16 prior to visiting Toronto, but now leaves 17-19 and facing road stops this week at Chicago and Houston.

The Colorado pitching staff, so stellar against the Yanks, was assaulted at the Rogers Centre. In the three games, Toronto scored 25 runs. The most damaging loss was last Friday when the Rocks blew a four-run lead in the ninth to lose 9-8. After that, the Jays coasted in wins of 11-6 and 5-0.

Francis was slated to open the Cubs series Monday night at Wrigley Field against Jason Marquis. Unbeaten Rodrigo Lopez (4-0, 2.93) figures to have a slight edge in Tuesday’s mound matchup with Ted Lilly. Wednesday, the Cubs send white hot ace Carlos Zambrano (2-1, 0.72 ERA in last 3 starts) opposite inconsistent Jason Hirsh.

The Rockies then head to Houston, having won 2-of-3 games this season against the Astros at Coors. The two victories were each by a run and went over the posted total.

It’s way too early to panic. Five games is nothing to make up in the standings. But the Rocks always have to be concerned about falling into old habits. Colorado had been a definite buy as far as betting action. But after what happened in Toronto and what could be major trouble at Wrigley, this could be a very telling week in Rockies fortunes for 2007.