Pirates, Nats glad Rocks in

Jul 17, 2007 1:33 AM

For those loyal Colorado Rockies fans who stuck with their favorite team this past weekend at Milwaukee, don’t say you weren’t warned.

The Jekyll and Hyde Rockies of 2007 again took the ugly Hyde appearance of a team that perennially can’t win away from home. Not even the four day rest period from the All Star Game changed their fortunes away from Coors Field.

After a promising 10-run explosion in a win Friday, the Rocks dropped games on Saturday and Sunday to lower their road mark to 19-27. The offense managed just four runs in the losses, though the pitching staff was touched for only six.

Don’t you know that licking their chops this week are the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals, each believing Colorado were provide at least a temporary cure to their own problems. Both the Bucs and Nats are well below .500 in the NL Central and East Divisions respectively.

Colorado must keep this ship afloat this week against less than stellar competition with the season probably on the line when the Padres and Dodgers visit Coors starting July 23 in a seven-game run at Coors.

Starting play this week, Colorado was 45-46 in the NL West. The Rocks trailed the Dodgers by six games, still very much in the picture and also close to being an also-ran for yet another season.

The latest odds at Caesars Palace for Colorado winning the World Series are 85/1, while currently at 40/1 to capture the NL pennant.

It’s to the point in Vegas where the safe play is to bet Colorado to win at home and lose on the road virtually on a daily basis. The win percentage is just that high. Away from Coors, the Rocks are 1-10 in their last 11 outings. When the Rockies return to Coors, they can pick up on a 9-1 streak.

Matt Holliday gained some notoriety for his fine early-round effort in the Home Run hitting contest at the All Star, but his overall hitting stats (.339, 16 HR, 70 RBI) make him one of baseball’s most coveted young talents.

Ace lefty Jeff Francis has put together a nice season with nine wins, a 4.15 ERA and 87 strikeouts from a kid that doesn’t throw especially hard. Francis hopes to make good on this road trip, especially in Washington where the Nats are just 3-10 facing NL West opponents.

And, it’s immediate trouble. The Rocks are in Milwaukee for three beginning Friday. Then it’s off to Pittsburgh and its fine young pitching staff loaded with lefties. The trip ends with four games at Washington, just 3-10 against NL West opponents.

Right now, Colorado’s prime concern is the bullpen. The Rocks could have been 3-0 in Milwaukee. Instead the pen blew two leads, resulting in losses Saturday and Sunday. Reliever Jeremy Affeldt was the goat on Sunday, allowing three hits, a walk and two runs in just two-thirds of inning. Previously, it was closer Bryan Fuentes, who lost his job by blowing four straight save opportunities.

That said, we could be singing a happier tune next week.