Colorado Rockies: Struggles at Coors Field Must End Soon
By Kevin Henry
Facing a team with a weak record in the Tampa Bay Rays, the Colorado Rockies had a chance to make up some ground in the race for the National League Wild Card slot earlier this week. However, a season-long enemy once again rose up and bit the Rockies right where it hurts … playing at home.
Coors Field, discussed throughout the league as a home-field advantage, has been anything but for the Rockies this season. Entering Thursday’s action, they’re just 21-24 at 20th and Blake.
Amazingly, the Rockies are tied for the MLB lead in home batting average at .303 whereas they’re batting just .240 outside of Denver. Pitching-wise is where much of the home-field problem lies as Colorado is last in MLB in home ERA at 6.33, almost a full run more than 29th-place Arizona.
Those are the problems that have crept up at very inopportune times, especially against opponents that Colorado should be beating at home. Tampa Bay hadn’t won on the road in 41 days before scoring 21 runs in two games at Coors Field and taking an important series from the Rockies.
At 35-57, Tampa Bay took two games from the Rockies in stunning fashion.
“Playing a team that is having a tough time and they’re in last place and we’re in a situation where we have to make things happen. We have to give them credit,” Carlos Gonzalez said. “It’s important for us to win at home. We have everything on our side. We have the fans. We have to take advantage of that. We’re just doing everything the opposite way. Pitchers are not getting the job done and we’re not scoring a lot of runs. It’s not a good mix.
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“We have to play better. It’s as simple as that. As an offensive player, I know that we have to play better. We have to hit better and get some runs on the board so our pitchers can be comfortable to pitch out there and have success.”
DJ LeMahieu said the Rockies are still trying to find some kind of consistency.
“We just haven’t been consistent. We have a game like we did the first game of the (Tampa Bay) series, an all-around great game, then came out the last two days and didn’t play very well,” the All-Star second baseman said.
It isn’t just the consistency but also the way the Rockies have been beaten at Coors. The Cincinnati Reds came into Denver in late May and early June and scored 29 runs to post three wins. There have been games where the Rockies seem flat and frustrated, including Wednesday’s loss to Tampa Bay.
After that loss, Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post asked Colorado manager Walt Weiss if his team came out flat on Wednesday. Weiss was quick to respond.
“You get down early two days in a row, sometimes it looks that way, especially when you’re not scoring runs and doing much offensively, you always look flat.”
As July winds to a close, Colorado has to find its Coors Field mojo again and soon. The Atlanta Braves, owners of MLB’s worst record at 33-62, including 19-26 on the road, starts a four-game series in Denver on Thursday night.
“When you fall, you have to get up and try again,” Gonzalez said. “We have a big four-game series coming at home. We’ve been talking about playing at home the right way, winning games and winning series at home. Second half, we started with the wrong foot again. We have to make things happen and we have to play better in this homestand.”
Gonzalez, with trade rumors swirling around him, is well aware that how well the Colorado Rockies do will determine what this team looks like after the trade deadline passes on August 1.
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“We have to concentrate on playing better,” Gonzalez said. “It’s up to us if we’re going to be sellers or buyers. I guarantee you that if we start winning series and we start winning games, we’re going to get in a good spot. By the way we started the second half playing at home, it’s not going to happen.”