The Stats That Count: Wins and Losses
The top of the second inning on Friday night in San Francisco, Trevor Story was on third base with one out and Ian Desmond up. With the contact play on, Desmond grounded to third, and Story was thrown out at the plate.
Next time up? There was no need to run on contact -- just trot. With one out and two men on base, Desmond unloaded a three-run home run, giving the Rockies a 3-1 lead. And the next time he was up? With two out and Nolan Arenado on third, Desmond bounced a ground-rule double over the center field fence at AT&T Park, and the Rockies were up 4-1 with Desmond having four RBI.
Charlie Blackmon added a two-run home run in the ninth for the 6-1 lead, but it was Desmond's night. The season has been a challenge for Desmond. Even with Friday night he is hitting .175. He, however, is fourth on the Rockies with 21 RBI, and is looking for a strong finish.
"I got a text from a friend in Washington, D.C., reminding me that (36 games into) 2014 I was hitting .214," said Desmond. "I wound up winning a Silver Slugger (as the best offensive shortstop in the NL) that year."
That's not saying Desmond is going to suddenly explode offensively, but it is a reminder that baseball is a game of streaks. And that a team has to be strong enough to overcome those situations.
The Rockies like to feel that is the case with their team this year.
"I know he has been grinding and trying hard," Blackmon said of Desmond. "He had a tough (first) at-bat and he's a professional and came back (the next two at-bats). I'm proud of him. Our guys play to win. That's the focus, not on what each person does."
And the Rockies are in second place in the NL West, a half game back of the Diamondbacks. At 25-20 it equals the third best start in franchise history, behind only 2017 and 1995, two of the four times the Rockies have advanced to the post-season. The other two times -- 2007 and 2009 -- the Rockies stumbled to 18-27 starts both times. The Rockies have been a game above .500 or better in 11 of their 26 years of existence.
A Starting Point
Desmond is battling to climb out of a slow start, but he's not the only member of the Rockies lineup being challenged in the first weeks of the 2019 season. Nolan Arenado is hitting .324. The only other Rockies player hitting above .280 is Noel Cuevas.
|x-in minor leagues|
Source: Stats, Inc.
The Rockies rank 13th in the NL in batting average -- 10 points ahead of NL West-leading Arizona, which ranks 15th.
|San Francisco Giants||0.254|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||0.239|
|St. Louis Cardinals||0.236|
|New York Mets||0.235|
|San Diego Padres||0.228|
Source: Stats, Inc.
The Rockies, however, have been able to stay in the midst of the NL West race.
"As a team we are winning games," said Desmond. "This is how you get through the dog days."
Manager Bud Black gets it.
"This is a team-first team," said Black. "We have a good group that truly pulls for each other. When guys struggle they try to pick each other up."
And right now the load is being carried by the pitching staff. The Rockies are allowing 4.38 runs per game this year, the fourth best total in the first 25 games of a season in franchise history. They are averaging only 4.04 runs per game, which equals the fewest runs per game in the first 45 games of a season in franchise history. The other time they averaged 4.04? They made their long World Series appearance -- 2007.
Strong Arming the Opposition