I'm actually running out of ways to describe the stretch of futility to open the season for the Rockies. A five-game losing streak, while bad, isn't completely awful. The problem right now is that, unlike a five-game losing streak in the middle of June, right now we haven't seen the Rockies show any evidence this season that they're a contender. Then again, neither have the Detroit Tigers, so we can hold some comfort in the fact that we're not the worst team in baseball right now.
Seriously, through the first week of the season, the Rockies have scored a grand total of ten runs -- to 32 for the opponents. The Rockies are batting .209 as a team, and slugging just .333. Todd Helton has hit half of the team's four homers. Four starters are batting below the Mendoza line, and that doesn't even count Yorvit Torrealba, who's right on the line, and Brad Hawpe, currently the team's third-best hitter with a .211 average. Jayson Nix, winner of the spring training derby for the second base job, has hit .083, though he's managed to walk enough to have a still-bad-but-not-quite-as-bad .267 OBP. We're just waiting for the law of averages to kick in with these guys. Last year, the team was able to weather an early slump by Garrett Atkins (as well as Troy Tulowitzki and Chris Iannetta.) Somebody is going to have to snap out of it and start getting some hits, or we may be back in our usual pre-2007 position of out of the playoff race before April is out.
There were some signs of life yesterday. The Rockies got their first two runners aboard in the first inning, and two on with one out in the second, but both times a double play killed the rally. Of course, with the way Franklin Morales was pitching, it looked like the one run the Rockies had would hold up until a Mark Reynolds homer (off Manny Corpas) gave the Diamondbacks the lead, though Matt Holliday's first homer of the year sent it to extra innings. And the Rockies lost. Nothing new there. Frankie's six shutout innings were the best pitching performance of the season thus far, edging out Kip Wells' spot start on Tuesday that resulted in (so far) the Rockies' only win of the year. Mark Redman was bad as expected, but Jeff Francis, Aaron Cook, and Ubaldo Jimenez have all turned in subpar efforts -- and with the way the offense has been playing, we need good outings from our starting pitchers, and we haven't been getting them. Cook gets the first chance to reverse that trend tonight as he goes against the Braves.
The good news about this series is that we miss John Smoltz, still probably the Braves' best starting pitcher even at age 40. The bad news? We miss Mike Hampton, too, who is on the DL again. Instead, we'll draw Tom Glavine tonight, followed by Jair Jurrjens, Chuck James (making his first start of the year), and Tim Hudson. The Braves have a solid offense, but the back of the rotation (which we're facing) is a question mark for them. I'll be happy with a series split, though a sweep would get us back to .500.