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Lacking solid presence on mound a concern


Lacking solid presence on mound a concern
CHICAGO - The concourse flowed with raindrops and fans exiting Wrigley Field on Monday. An inebriated gentleman who felt far less effect of the wind chill than those around him pronounced, "We will sweep the Rockies on Wednesday!"

No one had trouble believing him. Fact is, the Rockies stink at Wrigley Field. They have lost nine consecutive games dating to Sept. 30, 2006. They have been outscored 64-43, striking out an astounding 96 times, including 12 in Monday's one-hitter.

"You notice when the ball doesn't hit the outfield grass for six innings," third baseman Garrett Atkins said.

What Rockies fans have detected, if they can bear watching, is a trend through the first week of the season. When this team doesn't pitch well, it doesn't win. The Rockies' starters are averaging a little over five innings per outing, and already Aaron Cook, Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge De La Rosa have failed to reach that threshold.

The rotation's ERA sits at 4.91. It's far too early to draw any conclusions, but it reinforces a premise echoed throughout the clubhouse, that without at least mediocre work off the mound, this season will end in disappointment.

"We need consistency," pitching coach Bob Apodaca said. "That's always going to be an issue, whether you are pitching or hitting."

Colorado has dropped three consecutive games since its terrific performance before a sellout crowd in Friday's home opener. A 3-4 record is no reason to gobble fingernails, but anxiety is lurking. The Rockies have seven games remaining on this road trip, which includes stops in Los Angeles and Arizona, where they are a combined 7-14 in the past two seasons.

"We have to find a way to scratch through this," owner Dick Monfort said.

The hitting hasn't been great - Todd Helton and Chris Iannetta have one extra-base hit in 35 at-bats - and the team hasn't scored in the past 16 innings. But there have been some encouraging signs. Ian Stewart's power is playing out in flashes, and rookie Dexter Fowler has deposited two home runs and looks comfortable hitting leadoff.

"We are better set up that way because (Ryan) Spilborghs can do so many more things from the second spot," manager Clint Hurdle said. "I like having our best runner leading off. It's been nice to watch so far."

The pitching, however, remains troublesome. Colorado blew a 5-1 lead Sunday.

"We haven't deserved to win the last few games," Hurdle said. "We have to make better pitches. The other teams have pitched better than us."

Troy E. Renck: 303-954-1301 or trenck@denverpost.com ----------------- Black-and-blues Brothers

Chicago's Wrigley Field has not been friendly to the Rockies in the past three seasons. Their last win there came Sept. 30, 2006, after 14 innings. National Baseball writer Troy E. Renck examines the losing streak:

....Cubs .... Rockies

Wins....9....0

Runs....64....43....

Hits/at-bats....98/306....73/309....

Batting average.....320.....236

Strikeouts....54....96

ERA....4.78....7.31


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 15, 2009

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