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Florida Marlins’ Anibal Sanchez Nearly No-Hits Colorado Rockies

For the second time in five days, the Rockies were fighting not for a victory, but for a single hit.

Anibal Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter in his rookie season of 2006, took a no-hitter into the ninth inning before Dexter Fowler slid a ground ball into right field to break up the no-hit bid.
Ironically, after the top half of the first inning, the Rockies held the lead. Fowler led off with a walk, then moved up to second base on a passed ball, then moved to third base by Jonathan Herrera, and scored when first baseman Gaby Sanchez dropped a perfect throw from third base on Troy Tulowitzki’s grounder.
The Rockies were in a similar boat on Monday, when Tim Lincecum was given a five-run lead in the first inning and was able to relax and dominate the Rockies offense.
Jhoulys Chacin started on the mound for the Rockies and showed his age. The 23-year old has been impressive so far in 2011, however, at his age, he still is going to have tough outings.
Without his best stuff, Chacin was able to grind through five innings. He struggled to find the strike zone, throwing just 55 of his 95 pitches for strikes.
Chacin gave up four runs on seven hits in five innings. He walked three and stuck out four.
Outings like that are going to happen for Chacin. It is going to be tough for Rockies fans to understand, because he has shown such promise.
He is going to win his fair share of games, and he is going to be dominant and continue to grow up and learn how to pitch, but there will be a learning curve along the way.
He will have to find out how to adjust from pitching at Coors Field to pitching on the road.
The game was certainly not how the Rockies were looking to start their six-game road trip. After a dominant 7-1 road trip to begin the season, the club was looking to build on that and show they can win on the road.
With just one hit on Friday night, and the prospect of facing Marlins ace Josh Johnson on Sunday, the Rockies are already in a tough spot.
As early as it still is, it will be telling to see how the Rockies bounce back from a tough loss in which they struggled to score on Saturday night.
In 2010, this loss would snowball and get into the hitter’s heads. During the first road trip, one bad day at the plate wouldn’t set the tone for the next few games.
The Rockies have shown maturity and promise so far in this young season, but they haven’t had such a poor performance on the road yet.
If the Rockies can turn the page and hit well on Saturday, and at least put runs on the board and play the game the way that they have been, it will show that they have the maturity to play well one day to the next, despite their struggles the previous day.

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Jim Tracy Costs the Colorado Rockies in Loss to San Francisco Giants

After their second straight lackluster performance in a row, the Rockies offense had the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs.

With a struggling Ryan Spilborghs coming to the plate (6-for-35 on the season), and Ramon Ramirez, a righty on the mound, it seemed like a no-brainer that Jim Tracy would call upon Jason Giambi to pinch-hit and take a shot at tying the game up.

Instead, Tracy allowed Spilborghs to hit, and from the first pitch it was clear that he had no chance at the plate. After four pitches, Spilborghs was dispatched, not coming within a foot of Ramirez’s split-finger, and the inning was over.

Obviously there was no guarantee that Giambi would have come through in that situation.

He may very well have struck out, just as Spilborghs did. However, there is one reason, and only one reason, why Giambi is a member of the Colorado Rockies. That reason is to hit in that situation.

Tracy has an excuse. Before the game, the team optioned struggling third baseman Ian Stewart to Triple-A Colorado Springs in order to get his timing back. That move allowed the Rockies to put Ubaldo Jimenez back on the roster, leaving the bench short a man.

Therefore, Tracy needed to be picky where he used his pinch-hitters, and with Seth Smith already being used, burning Giambi in that situation leaves the club short if they need a big hit late.

With the short bench, the move can be justified. However, Tracy has a tendency to think that outs in the ninth inning are more important than outs at any other point in the game.

With two men in scoring position, even a base hit would have put the Rockies within a run. That makes it much easier to get something going later in the game, or have someone run into a fastball and put it into the seats.

Giambi did get used. However, it came in the ninth inning, with the Rockies down by three and a runner on first base. Even if Giambi goes deep in that situation, the Rockies are still down by a run.

The combination of moves, not using Giambi in a game-tying situation, then using him in a non-game-tying situation is head scratching.

The moment when Spilborghs struck out was really the only time the Rockies were in the game. Ubaldo Jimenez, fresh off of the disabled list, made Rockies fans think they were watching a replay of Monday night’s game.

He gave up four runs in the first inning, including a three-run no doubt home run off the bat of Pablo Sandoval.

After Jonathan Sanchez gave up a lead off double to Dexter Fowler, he began to look like a left-handed version of Tim Lincecum. He didn’t give up his second hit until the seventh inning.

The Rockies struggles with the Giants continue, despite their excellent start. The club tries to avoid the sweep in a Thursday matinée. The Rockies send Jorge De La Rosa to the mound to face Matt Cain.

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Colorado Rockies vs. Chicago Cubs: Rockies Rise Up in 8th, Take Series From Cubs

Alan Johnson won’t soon forget his Major League debut. However, it probably wasn’t what he originally dreamed of as a kid. The righty rookie only lasted four innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on six hits. He walked three and struck out three. He threw 93 pitches in the process.

Despite a rough outing for Johnson, the Rockies offense bailed him out, although it came within a pitch of blowing a great scoring opportunity.
Dexter Fowler came through for the Rockies, knocking a two-run double into right-center field with two outs and two strikes in the bottom half of the eighth inning.
With the game tied at five, Ryan Spilborghs led off the eighth inning with a base hit off the glove of Cubs reliever Marcos Mateo. Jose Lopez then failed on two consecutive bunt attempts, only to line a base hit to right field. When Kosuke Fukodome bobbled the ball, Spilborghs advanced to third and Lopez to second. The play questionably went into the books as a double.
With two runners in scoring position and no outs, things were looking good for the Rockies. Then, memories of 2010 started creeping in. Jose Morales fought off several pitches before being called out on strikes. With one out, Ty Wigginton pinch hit. In a situation where just lifting the ball in the air would plate the go-ahead run, Wigginton also took a seat on the bench after swinging through strike three.
At that point, the Rockies looked like they might be helping the Cubs out in a big way. Fowler worked the count, but found himself with two strikes. It seemed like the Rockies were going to go back to their old ways and give up their best chance to win the game. At that point, Fowler lined the two-strike pitch into the outfield, scoring both runs. Fowler slid into second with a double.
Jonathan Herrera then lined the first pitch to right field, scoring Fowler, followed by Carlos Gonzalez smacking a pitch to center field to keep the rally going. Todd Helton plated the next run with a single, and the Rockies suddenly had a four-run lead.
The difference between the 2010 Rockies and the 2011 Rockies could not have been shouted louder than it was on Sunday afternoon. In 2010, the Rockies ingrained into fans’ heads to not expect anything big in that situation. When Fowler came to the plate with two outs, it seemed inevitable that he would be the third strikeout victim.
Fast forward to 2011 and the same players now play with a different mindset. Despite the fact that the first two batters failed to do the job, Fowler wasn’t going to be swayed, even with two strikes. He found a way to get the job done. And after he got the job done, the guys behind him kept piling the runs on the board.
Those games are becoming wins for the Rockies in 2011. In 2010, those same games were losses. They lost those games because their approach at every turn was to swing for the fences. Instead of trying to hit the ball out of the park, they have realized that hitting it into the expansive Coors Field outfield does the job just as well, and doesn’t require the perfect pitch.
If the Rockies can continue hitting with that mentality, they have a good chance at staying right where they are in the standings all season long.

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Colorado Rockies: Chacin Dominates Cubs with Complete-Game Shutout

The Colorado Rockies knew going into the season that their rotation was going to be better than the experts gave them credit for.

Part of the reason the club knew that they would be better is because they knew how good Jhoulys Chacin could be. The 23-year old broke out in his rookie season, securing a spot in the rotation and posting a 3.28 ERA in 28 appearances.

After Friday’s performance, a few more people outside of Denver might be aware of who Chacin is.

The Venezuelan led the Rockies to a 5-0 victory over the Cubs, throwing a complete-game shutout. He gave up just six hits, striking out seven while walking just two.

 Chacin is just another Rockies prospect who is coming up through the system who seems unfazed by pitching at Coors Field.
His breaking pitches move more than they should at elevation, and his confidence in his changeup, throwing it to right-handed hitters this season, may have pushed him over the edge from being just a good pitcher, to a top-of-the-rotation kind of guy.

The Rockies won in a different way on Friday. Instead of letting the opponent take the early lead as they did in all four games at Citi Field in New York, the Rockies lit up the scoreboard early.
With the bases loaded, Chris Iannetta smoked a ball to straight away center field. The ball went past the outstretched arms of Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd and rolled to the wall.
All three runs scored easily, and when the relay throw from Starlin Castro went wildly into the Cubs dugout, Iannetta trotted home, giving the Rockies a four-run lead.

After their best road trip in years, the Rockies returned to Coors Field and easily could have suffered from a hangover. They played two games on Thursday, arrived back in Denver after midnight and quickly got back to work.

After a six-game winning streak, it would have been forgivable if the Rockies played a little flat on Friday. The Rockies had other thoughts, though.

Chacin’s complete game was more than a boost for a tired team. If there could be any negatives on a 7-1 road trip, it would be that the bullpen had been extremely taxed. A day to get their legs back under them and rest their arms will go a long way down the road.

On Friday night, the Rockies bullpen sat empty after Chacin trotted to the mound to start the game.

One thing that has been lost in the Rockies unbelievable start has been the play of Todd Helton. When he originally went down with tightness in his back, it seemed like the cycle was continuing itself once again.

Instead, Helton got some rest and has shown that he is completely healthy. On Friday, he went 2-for-4 with a classic Helton hit, driving the ball hard to the left-center gap.

It is easy to tell when Helton is on. When he is keeping his weight back and driving the ball to the opposite field, he is feeling great. If he can stay healthy and protect the big two in the Rockies lineup, it will contribute to the team’s success.

The Rockies head into Saturday night on a seven-game winning streak. They send Jason Hammel to the hill to oppose Triple-A call-up Casey Coleman.

A win on Saturday will give the Rockies some breathing room, as they send their own Triple-A call-up, Alan Johnson, to the mound for a spot start on Sunday.

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Seattle Mariners: Safeco Field and Ichiro Not the Draw They Once Were

The Mariners entered Monday’s series opener with the Toronto Blue Jays on a seven-game losing streak since opening the season 2-0. They won the first two games of that series, and had a great chance to win the third before reigning home run king Jose Bautista ended their aspirations of a sweep with one swing.

Yet despite the series win over a solid baseball team, the stretch marked rock bottom in the last decade of Seattle baseball. How could that be, you ask? Let us peek at the attendance figures.

On Monday, Felix Hernandez faced off with one of the hardest-hitting lineups in baseball, his first start in Safeco Field as reigning Cy Young winner. He floundered, but in one of the young season’s great ironies, the soft-hitting Mariners put up eight runs in the last three innings, winning the game on reserve Luis Rodriguez’s walk-off single.

A total of 13,056 fans were in attendance, many of them absent by the time of the comeback (and many more booing as the team they travelled to see—the Blue Jays—gave away their lead). The largely anti-Mariner crowd was the smallest in the history of Safeco Field.

Two days later was almost predestined to re-set the dubious “record.” Instead of Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez, the young and relatively anonymous Jason Vargas took the bump. And the game started at 12:40. On a Wednesday.

Sure enough, 12,407 fans were on hand to watch the come-from-behind Jays victory, barely filling Safeco Field to one-fourth its capacity. ROOT Sports, Seattle’s local broadcaster, eventually gave up on showing groups of fans in the stands.

Twelve years does not make a stadium old, but it sure takes the luster off of it. By and large, people no longer attend Mariner games to see Ichiro or wander the beautiful ballpark; most Seattleites who want to go have been before, and the team isn’t good enough to draw them back.

Do not get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with the Safe. The family environment is still second-to-none. The problem is the team’s recent performance.

It has failed to make the playoffs every year since the miracle 116-win 2001 season. Only twice since then have the M’s finished as high as second in the four-team American League West.

The honors bestowed on the franchise since 2001 are more dubious ones, “first team to lose 100-plus games with a $100 million payroll” (2008) being the one that hurts most.  Last year, they again lost 101 games. The Mariners have ceased to be a conversation piece outside of sports radio hosts and the most diehard of fans.

Yet despite their struggles, Safeco had continued to have decent attendance numbers. Last year, despite the worst record in the American League, the Mariners finished 21st in attendance.

That time is over. Fans have gone from angry to apathetic—and indifferent fans do not attend games. The city’s Safeco Field saturation point also appears near, if it is not there yet. So where to go from here?

There are two reasons to have faith.

One is that the rainy, 50-degree days spent playing middling American League East teams will end as spring fades to summer. More fans will come out simply because of the weather and competition. (The Yankees visit for a weekend in May and the Red Sox do likewise in mid-August.)

The second reason for hope is longer-term, but hopefully more lasting. This team is getting better.

It appears, barring injury, that they have found their second ace of the future in Michael Pineda. The 6’6” fireballer has looked downright dominant, and maturity and his friendship with Hernandez will only help him on the mound. Young and powerful, Justin Smoak already helps anchor an admittedly weak lineup.

In AAA, 2B Dustin Ackley just hit his first home run of the season and looks to learn the ropes at second base—a position he converted to upon being drafted—in time to get his feet wet in the MLB when rosters expand in September.

And those are simply the two most well-known names. Nick Franklin, Alex Liddi and Kyle Seager are working their way towards the Safeco infield, hoping to complement Smoak and Ackley from the left side. A cavalcade of young arms is on the way as well, hoping to be ready to join the rotation over the next few years.

It is not an immediate solution to the attendance problem, and regrettably Safeco Field—as last series showed—no longer takes care of attendance on its own. Hopefully some crisp Seattle weather and a likeable group of young players will provide the immediate attendance relief.

And hopefully in a few years I won’t have to use phrases like “likeable young players” and “crisp Seattle weather” to give Seattleites a reason to head to Safeco Field.

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Time for Colorado Rockies Fans To Take the Next Step

For years it was acceptable. For years, there when other clubs came to visit Coors Field, it was understandable that fans for the other teams outnumbered Rockies fans. After all, the Rockies were in the middle of an identity crisis for most of those years.

Those days are over.
These are not your father’s Rockies.
With the Chicago Cubs heading into town, there will be an inevitable sea of blue filling the green seats at Coors Field. These fans aren’t your typical visiting fans, however. These fans are loud, they talk trash,and they have a superiority complex, despite the fact that they are arrogantly cheering for a team who hasn’t won a World Series since Theodore Roosevelt lived in the White House.
The excuse for Cubs fans is that through WGN, Chicago’s superstation, they were the only team that baseball fans from Colorado could watch before the Rockies came into existence. The problem with that excuse, however, was that it was only half of the excuse. The other side of the excuse was that they would gladly be Rockies fans if the owners would step up and commit to winning.
Well Cubs fans, welcome to 2011. The Colorado Rockies head into a series with your beloved lovable losers with the best record in baseball. They are 10-2 in the early going, and have a certain swagger about them. They refuse to lose.
In each of the four games in which they swept the Mets, they were down 2-0 before fighting back to take the lead, something that rarely happened in 2010.
Not only do the Rockies have a team that looks like it is serious about making a playoff run, they have a team full of players who aren’t going anywhere for a while.

After signing Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to long-term deals, the Rockies have shown that they are committed to winning. Long gone are the days of Jose Hernandez starting at shortstop. Long gone are the days of Jeromy Burnitz providing the power for a lackluster, castoff lineup.

These Rockies have started off hot, and no one is calling it a fluke. Finally, everyone in the media is realizing that the Rockies are not just a good little club who can make some noise from time to time. They are realizing that the Rockies might just be a team who can compete with the big boys on the east coast, and with the big-spending Phillies.
Loyalty is a great thing. The fact that these Cubs fans have held on for so long is admirable. However, it is time for Rockies fans to realize that they have everything that they ever asked for in a baseball team, and so much more.

No one could have envisioned this good of a start. No one could have seen the Rockies playing this well on the road. It might just be a hot start, but those watching the Rockies know that there is a difference between this team and the team that took the field in 2010. It is as if there has been a new level of maturity hit in the clubhouse, that the days of being the underdog, and the days of being disrespected are over.

The fact is, this Rockies team is good. They know they are good, and they have a very good chance at contending. It is time for fans to realize that and begin to back their team.
There is no way to keep Cubs fans out of Coors Field over the weekend, however, it is possible for Rockies fans to drown them out and make their presence a moot point.
It is time for Rockies fans to step up and embrace their team.

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Michael Pineda’s Debut: Imperfect but Promising for the Seattle Mariners

When he got ahead, he dominated. When he fell behind, he got roughed up.

There is a reason the above could describe any pitcher, from Roy Halladay to Bartolo Colon, but it was especially true of Michael Pineda in his MLB debut tonight.

Pineda gave up three earned runs. The first runner that scored reached on a walk. Josh Hamilton drove the second in by smashing a 2-2 hanging slider to deep right-center field. And the last was on a 3-1 pitch that veteran Michael Young saw coming from Houston.

But all told, Mariner fans have to be happy with the debut of Pineda. He struggled less than young Felix Hernandez used to, wasting fewer pitches and simply dominating when he got ahead in the count.

Just ask Adrian Beltre, who chased an outside slider in the fourth that he needed a cricket bat to hit.

Or Michael Young, who followed Beltre by striking out on a 96 mile per hour heater that he might have fouled off with a tennis racket. The entire fourth inning lasted 10 pitches.

With an arsenal as intimidating as Pineda’s—his fastball topped out around 96 and his slider hit about 86 with tight break on the outside half—it becomes nearly impossible for a hitter once he’s behind in the count.

It is also promising that young Pineda never got rattled and didn’t cave to the big inning potential that the Rangers have. Entering the game, they led the majors in runs scored and slugging percentage (by a whopping .081 over Cincinnati). And just for good measure, the game was in a big time hitter’s park in Arlington.

That four of the Rangers’ five hits went for extra-bases—and three of those four accounted for their three RBIs—speaks to Pineda’s need to remain ahead in the count. Staying ahead allows him to mix in his diving slider off the plate as a chase pitch rather than in situations where he needs a strike.

Pineda’s final line—6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 K, 1BB, 58/84 Strikes—show a young pitcher with promise and poise, but who must learn how to stay ahead in the count and ensure his entire arsenal remains in play. Continuing to develop his secondary pitches won’t hurt either.

The future is bright.

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Colorado Rockies Must Defeat the L.A. Dodgers To Be Dominant

The Colorado Rockies have gone from being the laughing stock of the National League to a contender.

It took several years to build a farm system that was capable of competing against the big spenders from bigger cities, but the Rockies finally arrived, proving themselves with playoff appearances in two of the past four seasons.
Long gone are the days when the club was an afterthought in the baseball world. No longer are the Rockies the doormat of the division.
However, as the club has risen to dominance, one thing hasn’t seemed to change. The Los Angeles Dodgers, regardless of how good they have been, continue to be a thorn in the Rockies side.
In September of 2010, with the Dodgers looking forward to an offseason, and the Rockies trying to springboard into the playoffs, Colorado needed one win to really propel their playoff hopes forward. With a five-run lead in the fifth inning, the game looked like it was in control for the Rockies.
Instead, the hapless Dodgers battled back and ended up defeating the Rockies in extra innings. That day was the beginning of the end for the Rockies in 2010.
In the Rockies’ 18 seasons of existence, the club has only had a better record than the Dodgers twice.
With the Dodgers in disarray, due in large part to an ownership divorce that is tying up financial resources, the Rockies have an opportunity to turn the tables on a club that has dominated them since their inception.
The Rockies, owners of exactly zero National League West division crowns, have the talent to win the division in 2011. They have depth at nearly every position. They have a chance to win every single game they play in.
However, if they want to be the best team in the NL West, they must find a way to dominate the teams in the division. That would include finding a way to defeat the Dodgers.
The Rockies get that opportunity starting on Tuesday at Coors Field. However, it will be no easy task as the Dodgers send their dominant lefty ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound to take on the Rockies Jhoulys Chacin.
It may be a tough task to defeat Kershaw, but if the Rockies want to win the West, they are going to have to find a way to be competitive against the team they have struggled against their entire existence. If they are able to knock Kershaw around, they may give themselves the confidence to beat Los Angeles all year long.

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Colorado Rockies Drop Opener: Not Time to Panic

There has never been a must-win Opening Day.

Judging by the feeling outside of Coors Field following the Rockies 7-6, 11-inning defeat, it seemed as if the front office had pulled a fast one on its fans.

Statements of “this team isn’t that good,” and “there is no way that they should ever lose to the Diamondbacks” were the prevailing thoughts coming out of the few Rockies fans who had drank fewer than four beers.
The fact is, every team hopes to win their opener. It’s a celebration of a new season, with renewed hope. The way to put an exclamation point on the party is by notching the first win.
Ubaldo Jimenez wasn’t good. It’s that simple. He was throwing in the mid-90s and even his outs were struck hard. With Jimenez’s fastball never reaching his normal speed, thoughts rang back to interviews after his All-Star appearance in 2010.
Jimenez was only throwing in the mid-90’s on that day as well. Afterwards, he said that the pre-game festivities, including a huge flag in the middle of the field, forced him to forgo his normal long-toss routine.
On Friday, the Opening Day festivities were extremely similar, and Jimenez warmed up by throwing no more than 100 feet. Throwing long toss allows the right-hander to stretch out more and gain the extra miles per hour.
At 0-1, the Rockies and their fans do not need to worry. Baseball is a funny game, and losing to the Diamondbacks is something that every team in the division will do on several occasions throughout the season, regardless of records.
Perhaps Jimenez giving up five earned runs in six innings will be a blessing for the club. In 2010, after an incredible start in which Jimenez didn’t give up his 10th run until the end of May, it almost seemed like the Rockies had lost a game when the flame-thrower didn’t pitch a shutout.
If he can get a clunker or two out of the way early on, he can relax and simply pitch to win games instead of trying to throw a no-hitter every time he takes the mound.
There is no doubt that the Rockies need a strong April. They need to come out of the gate quickly. However, they do not need to win every single game; they need to win series. They can still do that against the Diamondbacks this weekend.
The Rockies, while missing on several opportunities, showed that their lineup is going to be tough, top to bottom. Jose Lopez hit his first home run as a Rockie, while also notching a great game at second base.
Todd Helton looked far more comfortable at the plate than at any time in the 2010 campaign, and Seth Smith, one of the three Rockies looking for a breakout season, collected three hits.
The good news for the Rockies is that they get a chance to pick up their first win on Saturday.
If the Rockies pick up their first win, maybe fans will be able to quit grumbling.


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Colorado Rockies: Why the Blake Street Bombers Face a Tough Road in April

The Colorado Rockies need to get off to a quick start.

It’s a story that’s been written a hundred times. However, it’s been written so many times because of the fact that this group of baseball players seem to play their best when they are seemingly out of the race.

In 2010, it seemed like a breath of fresh air to Rockies fans when the club went 11-12 in April.

That being said, 11-12 is not very good for a team looking to make a statement, but compared to previous years it seemed like a hot start.

In 2007, the Rockies finished April at 10-16; in April 2008, the year they were trying to prove that their run to the World Series was no fluke, they stumbled to 11-17; in 2009, with Clint Hurdle’s job on the line, the club went 8-12.

Needless to say, April has not been friendly to the Rockies.

There is a prevailing thought that the move from Tucson to Scottsdale will help the team’s legs to be more rested. On top of that, the everyday starters are seeing more top-shelf pitchers instead of the Double-A guys that were routinely shipped down to Tucson in previous years.

Whether that tips the scales will remain to be seen.

One factor that many people forget is the cold weather that often plagues Colorado in the early spring.

Just when the grass starts to turn green and the trees start to bud leaves, it seems that winter shares one last reminder that it isn’t dead yet—often leaving fans at Coors Field feeling like it’s the Broncos they’re watching in December, rather than the boys of summer.

Baseball in the cold often results in a flip of the coin as to who’s going to win.

Pitchers can’t grip the ball so well, hitters can look forward to a sting when they connect with a pitch and, overall, the game is played at a much slower pace.

Winning games in cold weather is often more about luck than skill.

Taking a quick look at the Rockies early season schedule may make fans want to break out the parka rather than the shorts and flip flops.

After playing five early games at Coors Field, which will almost certainly feature at least one or two frigid nights, the club will head to Pittsburgh and New York for eight games.

Obviously, both of those cities have the potential to feature games below 40 degrees.

After those eight games, the Rockies head home for six more at Coors Field. After that, they get a reprieve from the cold by playing a three-game set in Miami, their final stop in South Florida before the Marlins move into a new ballpark that might actually attract more than 10,000 fans per night.

After Florida, the Rockies head north to Chicago, where they play the Cubs early on once again.

Over the last two seasons, the Rockies have played the Cubs at Wrigley Field before May 1 and on both occasions found themselves playing in very cold conditions.

While the cold is certainly not an excuse to not do well, it is something that has to be factored in. It does not present the teams on the field with the perfect opportunity to win based on talent.

The reality is that games in April count exactly the same as the games in September do.

The Rockies have proven in the past that they are a talented enough team to overcome a slow start in April, but playing catchup for five months because of a slow start is not the ideal way to stay mentally and physically fresh throughout the season.

The Rockies may not have the ideal schedule for April, but they must find a way to come out of the gate quickly. There are no excuses for a team as talented as this Rockies bunch is.

A winning April will go a long way for the Rockies 2011 postseason prospects.


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