This road trip serves as a litmus test for the Rockies.
It would answer whether or not the Rockies can sustain their excellent 5-1 homestand. That hasn’t been the case for them so far.
The Rockies are 1-3 on this road trip after taking a 5-4 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park last night. From watching the last three games, it appears the Rockies have reverted to doing things that have made them a bad team this season.
It’s four games already, but the Rockies have been so bad on the road that it’s hard to give them a benefit of the doubt. They are 22-41 on the road for a reason. They are not good enough to win away from Coors Field.
Intelligence and attitude are why the Rockies struggle on the road, and that has to change if they want to be a contending team on a yearly basis.
The Rockies have to get smarter with their hitting approach. They strike out often on the road, and they don’t get the big hit when they need to. They take poor at-bats at the plate.
Last night illustrated what’s wrong with the Rockies. They made Ethan Martin look like Cliff Lee as they mustered two runs and four hits off him in 6 1/3 innings he pitched. Keep in mind the Phillies starter has been mediocre at best prior to last night’s start.
The Rockies guessed by swinging at every pitch rather than make Martin work by fouling off pitches or knowing what pitch was a ball.
This is the same old story when they are hitting. It’s tough to watch.
It’s hard to create offense when guys are striking out rather than figuring out how to make a pitcher work by fouling off pitches. This has been a problem all year. It’s even worse when veterans such as Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer are doing it.
There’s no question Rockies hitting coach Dante Bichette has spent time telling guys to be patient at the plate. With that said, it’s easy to wonder if he is getting through to them by the way they are playing.
Their plate discipline has to get better. It can’t be hard to foul off pitches. If those guys can’t figure it out, they shouldn’t be playing everyday.
Part of being in the majors is to know plate discipline. That has to be taught in the minors before hitters are called up. If a hitter is hacking, it’s easy to get him out. The Rockies can’t have this. These guys should know how to have good at-bats when they enter the majors. There is no excuse to not make a pitcher work.
The Rockies have had trouble hitting on the road by hitting .247 and scoring 219 runs (third worst output in the NL) on the road. There is a reason to it. They have not done what they should be doing in being effective at the plate.
Until the Rockies figure out how to take proper at-bats, the results will continue to be same on the road.
Attitude is another problem with the Rockies. It seems like they are always flat when they play on the road. They seemed to be defeated when the home team takes a lead on them.
Their attitude on the road has to change.
It comes down to confidence. The Rockies have to expect to do well on the road. They can’t let their struggles wear them down. They can’t let deficits make it a lost cause for them. They need to know how to be aggressive such as stealing bases or extending single into a double.
The talent is there, but it means nothing if the attitude is not there.
The Rockies have had good hitting teams over the years, but for whatever reason, it has not translated well on the road. Then-Rockies manager Don Baylor did all he could to get his hitters to believe they can be effective on the road.
The problem is the Rockies expect to lose on the road. They don’t have enough leaders that can show how it’s done, so this will continue until the mindset changes.
The Rockies have to figure out how to do well on the road if they want to be a playoff team or have a winning season.
They need to find players who can get it done. That will be the key.
It would also be nice if guys like Nolan Arenado, Corey Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon and Charlie Culberson can figure out plate discipline.
If the Rockies can figure out how to have a better approach and develop a better attitude, they can improve on the road.
They need to find players that know what to do for that to happen.
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Corey Dickerson has quickly become a fan favorite with his performance.
He is not only hitting, but he is making hustle plays such as stretching a single into a double or double into a triple. He is doing whatever he can to get on base.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss liked what he saw out of Dickerson to bat him third in the lineup in yesterday’s game, and the rookie outfielder made the rookie manager look like a genius by going 3-for-4 with a triple, two doubles and two RBIs.
Dickerson has played so well that the Rockies expect him to drive in runs or get a base hit when he is hitting. He demonstrated that couple of times in yesterday’s game. He hit a RBI triple that scored Dexter Fowler to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead over the Padres in the third inning, and he extended the Rockies’ lead to 4-2 in the eighth inning by hitting a double that scored Fowler.
It wasn’t the hitting that stood out. It was how he was able to stretch a double into a triple with his speed, and that’s what he did in the third inning. He tried to do it again in the eighth inning, but he was tagged out at third after he stretched a double into a triple.
Questioning his decision to go for the triple in the eighth is irrelevant. It’s about how aggressive he can be and how he trusts his speed to help him get extra bases. That’s what the Rockies like about him, and that’s why he will be getting playing time for the final seven weeks of the season.
For all intents and purposes, the Rockies are looking at guys who can play next year. Dickerson is one of them, and that’s why Weiss is giving him the opportunity. He has made the most of it.
Dickerson’s odds of being an everyday outfielder next year is good with Michael Cuddyer likely replacing Todd Helton at first base. He has this year’s experience to help him make his case to win the job in the 2014 season.
In 33 games he played this season, Dickerson is hitting .321 with 25 hits, eight doubles, two triples and eight RBIs.
He always had the talent to be great offensively. When he played at Triple-A Colorado Springs, he hit .371 with 11 homers and 50 RBIs in 75 games.
His defense has been better. He has not made an error in 17 games prior to yesterday’s game. He knows where the ball is going as he positions himself to make a catch, and he has made good catches. That certainly goes a long way for Dickerson.
His attitude has served him well. He is eager to learn from others. He picks up valuable lessons from veterans such as Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez. He has a great work ethic. He likes to always get better. That goes a long way for a player to be good.
Dickerson’s track record as a hitter shows he is not a fluke. He is a guy the Rockies can build around along with Nolan Arenado and D.J. LeMahieu.
With young hitters, it comes down to consistency. Remember Josh Rutledge and Tyler Colvin played well last year and they weren’t the same players this year. Before the Rockies can get excited about Dickerson, they need to see more.
Right now, the rookie outfielder is enjoying this appearance. He knows he can’t think ahead. Baseball is a humbling sport where a player is as good as the next day. He does not have the talent like Carlos Gonzalez, which the game comes easily. He has to work for it.
Dickerson embraces the challenge. He is a go-getter. He listens to what people tell him. He is at it at the batting cage. His personality is contagious.
For him, this is the American dream. This is an opportunity for him to play a kid’s game in ballparks around the country. This is a privilege for him hanging out with the greatest players in the world. This is where he is thankful where he can be on a chartered flight rather than be on a bus to a minor-league town.
Dickerson wants to see to it he does not go back to the minors. He did all he could there. It’s about him staying in the major leagues now.
He is having it good now, but he knows the hard part is keeping it up. His challenge is just the beginning.
Right now, he is riding a nice momentum.
He hopes it does not end anytime soon.
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