Back on June 12, I wrote that I wouldn't be able to look at the Colorado Rockies' glass as half full until they reached the .500 mark. To the delight of Rockies' fans everywhere, that happened yesterday, thanks to a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. This outcome was doubly important, because it was the second straight after the Rays ended the Rocks' consecutive-victory run at eleven -- a sign that the CR crew isn't going to immediately turn its winning streak upside down.
Now, of course, we're in the unreasonable-expectation phase. Note that in his column today, the Denver Post's Mark Kiszla declares this year's squad to be better than the 2007 lineup that went to the World Series -- an enormous change of tune from "Rockies Short on Swagger," a May 15 column in which Kiszla wrote this:
On the road for their next 10 games, the Rockies are in danger of becoming irrelevant in the National League West race before kids in Colorado get out of school for the summer.
Maybe it would be unfair to pin the blame on [since fired manager Clint] Hurdle.
And maybe that's the greatest indictment of all for his team.
What if these Rockies really are as bad news as they appear?
Clearly, they're not -- but neither have the Rockies reached the point where they can be credibly compared to the roster from two seasons ago. The main difference between the beyond-mediocre team of a month ago and the much more positive one that will take on the Pittsburgh Pirates today is starting pitching. Ubaldo Jimenez, who got the latest W, is growing more consistent, Aaron Cook has shown that he can come out on top even when opponents are hitting him, and lower level hurlers like Jason Marquis and Jason Hammel have decent enough ERAs that Rockies batters don't feel they have to go yard every time they come up to the plate. If these factors remain true, the Rocks can continue creeping up the standings -- the slow-and-steady approach. If it's not, Kiszla will have another chance to flip-flop.
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It's ridiculously early to start thinking about the potential "Rocktober Sequel" ballyhooed on the Post's front page. But the Rockies' season won't be over by July 1, either -- and for now, that's more than enough.