ATLANTA -- The Rockies tied a National League record Sunday by playing their 46th straight game against a team with a better-than-.500 record. But their performance over the stretch has been more about the quality of the Rockies than that of opponents.
The series finale against the Braves tied the Rockies with the 1926 Phillies and the 2012 Braves for the most brutal NL stretch by won-loss record, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The difference, though, is the success rate. Those '26 Phils went 15-31, and the '12 Braves were 22-24. The Rockies went 30-16, following a 4-2 win on Sunday.
"We're playing good baseball against good teams, and we're finding a way to win against teams who also know how to win," center fielder Charlie Blackmon said. "It's not like you're beating a team that can't win. Some teams, when they're not going good, they find a way to lose. But the teams that we've been playing find a way to win consistently."
The stat is a product of the Rockies' quirky schedule and a difficult Interleague opponent draw. The Rockies had a heavy stretch of early-season games against the Padres -- who will arrive at Coors Field on Tuesday well under .500. The NL West was matched up with the American League West, which is the most competitive division in a Junior Circuit full of teams doing the rebuilding dance.
"The coaches and I looked at the schedule and were going through it and said in a way, believe it or not, it's a good thing to play teams that are over .500, that are in contention, because it will really show what we're all about," manager Bud Black said.
The performance over the stretch and how it's being viewed highlights a slight disconnect between the Rockies' self-evaluation and expectations from those outside their circle.
Wherever they go, and even at home, the Rockies' success is often met with questions emphasizing how good the opponents are and are tinged with the thought that the wins have an "upset" quality. But the Rockies counter with the attitude that they win because they're supposed to win.
"We're a confident team," said shortstop Trevor Story, who hit his 26th home run on Sunday. "We feel like we can play and beat anybody. It's been a long stretch of playing really good teams. It kind of confirms what we all believed."
And it confirms the belief that pitching, especially starting pitching, wins. The starting rotation's .216 batting average against and 7.09 hits per nine innings led the Majors over the first 45 games of the stretch. Over that time, the offense produced a .762 team OPS -- ninth in the Majors.
The Rockies entered Sunday a half-game out of first place and holding the attention of those in the know.
"I do hear from the other managers, the coaches, the broadcasters, 'Hey, you guys got a good team,'" Black said. "I think we know that. I think the guys know it, and I think people in the game are watching, and give a lot of compliments to the Rockies. It's good to hear."
Games against the Padres have not been easy. The Rockies are 7-5 against San Diego this season but just 3-3 at Coors Field, where the clubs will open a three-game series on Tuesday.
"They've got some good players," Black said. "Position player-wise, they've got some guys that can do some damage, even though statistically it might not bear out. On the mound, they've gone through a lot of changes. They've got some pitchers on that staff that we haven't seen. We'll try to get up to speed as quickly as possible Monday and Tuesday afternoon."
Dunn on schedule
Lefty Mike Dunn, on the disabled list since July 7 with left A/C joint inflammation, will make his first rehab appearance Tuesday for Triple-A Albuquerque at El Paso. His next two appearances will come after two days off. Then he'll go with one day off before finishing his rehab assignment next Friday and Saturday. He plans to rejoin the club Sept. 3 at home against the Giants.