In the 21 years that the Colorado Rockies have existed, opponents and pundits have discounted the team's offensive accomplishments because of the hitter-friendly environment at both Mile High Stadium (their home the first two years) and Coors Field.
Are the critics going to be fair and balanced in their evaluations?
Could Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa be a serious candidate for the National League Cy Young Award, and maybe even win the honor?
De La Rosa not only shares the NL lead in victories (16) with Jordan Zimmermann of the Washington Nationals, but he is 10-1 with a 2.76 earned-run average at Coors Field.
There's no question about his candidacy for the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in June 2011, De La Rosa appeared in only three games and pitched just 10 2/3 innings last season.
This year, he has made 29 starts -- with the Rockies winning 20 of them -- and has worked 165 2/3 innings.
De La Rosa has found a comfort zone in Colorado after a decade of wandering through pro ball, unable to find a home. Originally signed by Arizona in 1998, he had his contract sold back to Monterrey in the Mexican League in 2000. De La Rosa returned to the United States when Boston purchased his contract prior to the '01 season.
De La Rosa was dealt by the Red Sox back to Arizona in November 2003 as part of the Curt Schilling deal, and a month later the D-backs sent him to Milwaukee in the Richie Sexton deal. De La Rosa went from Milwaukee to Kansas City in a trade in '06, and he arrived in Colorado in an April 20, 2008, deal with the Royals.
In his first 10 year of pro ball, De La Rosa pitched in only 97 big league games and went 15-23 and with a 5.85 ERA. With the Rockies, he's gone 55-34 with a 4.19 ERA.
Some of the inconsistency that dogged the early part of De La Rosa's career came from his inability to control his emotions when things went wrong. The Rockies immediately addressed this weakness.
What has been the difference? De La Rosa credits former Rockies mental skills coach Ron Svetich. De La Rosa said Svetich "taught me to count to 10."
The question now is whether the critics of Coors will give De La Rosa credit for the job he has done.
San Francisco right-hander Yusmeiro Petit came one batter shy of pitching the 24th perfect game in Major League history on Friday. Instead, he became the 12th pitcher to lose a perfect-game bid after 8 2/3 innings.
With two outs in the ninth Friday, Arizona pinch-hitter Eric Chavez worked the count to 3-2, then dropped a single into right field.It was the second time this year a bid for a perfect game came up one out shy. Yu Darvish of Texas lost his vs. Houston on Marwin Gonzalez's single on April 2.
Petit finished off the game with a 3-0 shutout. His was the ninth of the near-perfect games that ended in a shutout.
Zito rouged up on the road
Former American League Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito is struggling in the final season of his seven-year contract with San Francisco. He's had it particularly rough on the road, where he's gone 0-9 with a 9.22 ERA and .393 average allowed in 14 games (12 starts) this year.
That's the second-most losses without a win on the road in a big league season since at least 1921, according to Stats Inc. Terry Felton was 0-11 in 31 road games with Minnesota in '82, including four as a starter. Steve Gerkin of the '45 Phillies was 0-8 in 13 road games, including eight starts.
The only pitcher with no road wins who had a higher away ERA than Zito's was Edgar Gonzalez, who was 0-6 with a 9.38 road ERA is seven road starts with Arizona in 2004.
What a hit
Rockies first baseman Todd Helton is the 19th player to have at least 2,500 hits while appearing with only one team in his big league career. The career leader among the 19 is Stan Musial, who had 3,630.
Helton and Derek Jeter of the Yankees are the two active players among the list of 19. Helton is 81 hits behind Ernie Banks and 152 behind Ted Williams among the 19 players. The other players on the list are Hall of Famers, except for Jeter, Craig Biggio and Chipper Jones -- all of whom are expected to eventually be enshrined in Cooperstown.
• Michael Cuddyer is attempting to become the eighth Rockies player to win a batting title in the franchise's 21 seasons of play. The seven Rockies batting champions were: Andres Galarraga (1993), Larry Walker ('98, '99,2001), Helton ('00), Matt Holliday ('07) and Carlos Gonzalez in ('10).
• Tampa Bay went into Saturday holding the No. 2 spot in the AL Wild Card battle, but with four teams within 4 1/2 games of them. Cleveland and Baltimore were both two games out, the Yankees were 2 1/2 games back and Kansas City was 4 1/2 behind.
Out of left field San Francisco third baseman Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs in San Diego on Wednesday, and according to reporter Bill Arnold, Sandoval was the fourth player in history to have three-homer games in both the regular season and World Series. The other three were Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols. Sandoval is the only one of the four to have a three-homer game in the World Series before the regular season.
Sandoval hit his World Series trio in the Giants' Game 1 victory vs. the Tigers last fall. On Wednesday, he became only the second player with three home runs in a game at Petco Park, which is in its 10th season of existence. Ryan Braun hit three on April 30, 2012.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.