Rox's rotation thriving on Coors Field home cooking
Colorado owns a 3.80 ERA in 19 games in the Mile High City this year
DENVER -- Don't tell the Rockies' rotation about the evils of Coors Field. They aren't listening.
It is their home ballpark, and, remember, there is no place like home. Others may whine about the way the ball carries at altitude or the way it doesn't have movement on the way to plate because of the lack of humidity.
Colorado's rotation, however, shrugs at the idea that Coors Field is a pitching graveyard.
"I love it," said lefty Jorge De La Rosa. "Since the first time I pitched here in relief with Milwaukee and when I came in here [in 2007] with Kansas City and started, I felt comfortable."
De La Rosa walked the only batter he faced in his Aug. 16, 2005, Coors Field debut with the Brewers. He was impressive in his one start with the Royals, allowing two runs in 6 1/3 innings of a 5-2 Kansas City win on May 18, 2007.
Since he has been with the Rockies, De La Rosa has made himself right at home at Coors Field. And it shows.
With seven shutout innings in the Rockies' 3-1 victory against the Padres on Friday night, De La Rosa improved his record to 38-12 at Coors Field, a franchise record for home field wins, with a 4.18 ERA. He is 14-1 in the home park since the start of last season.
The victory allowed the Rockies, who are 24-19 overall, to remain four games back of National League West-leading Giants, and a game ahead of the third place Dodgers.
"You hear a lot of things from other pitchers about this is not a good stadium, but I think it's a good stadium," he said. "I like it here. I like the challenge."
And De La Rosa is not a one-man show.
Among 33 pitchers who have made 10 or more Coors Field starts, Ubaldo Jimenez is the all-time ERA leader at 3.67, but four of the top seven are currently with Colorado -- disabled right-hander Tyler Chatwood (second, 3.92), De La Rosa (fourth, 4.18), Jhoulys Chacin (fifth (4.22) and Juan Nicasio (seventh, 4.20).
Jordan Lyles, an off-season addition from Houston is fitting in, as well. Between two starts as a visitor with Houston and the two starts he has made this year, he goes into his start against the Padres on Saturday night 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA in four career starts at Coors Field.
Yes, the Rockies do hit at Coors Field. They lead the majors in home field average (.349) and runs scored (141 in 19 games).
More surprising, however, is that the Rockies have a 3.80 ERA in 19 games at Coors Field compared to 4.11 in 24 games on the road. Colorado's overall ERA of 3.97 ranks 20th in the Major Leagues. The franchise-best season ERA is 4.14, set in 2010, and they have never had a home ERA lower than the 4.25 they posted in 2010.
"It's possible we have better concentration here and try to make a good pitch on every pitch," admitted Chacin. "On the road, we know we have more movement and better stuff. Here, we know we have to keep the ball down and get ground balls.
"I enjoy pitching here. I always feel I just have to go out and make my pitch."
The Rockies do lead the Major Leagues with a ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio of 2.01 at home this season.
"They are focused on pitching to the bottom of the strike zone," said manager Walt Weiss. "They have confidence in doing it. I think they all pitch well at home."
Friday was the sixth time in 19 home games Colorado's pitching staff allowed only one run. The Rockies have allowed four runs or fewer in 13 of their home games. That's a big part of their 14-5 record at Coors Field, the second-best home record in the big leagues to Miami, which is 17-5.
"We always take pride in pitching well at home," said Chatwood, sidelined with a strained right flexor tendon. "It feels good here, plus we have the fans. You always hear doubters say stuff about this park, and I take offense to that."
Colorado is averaging 147.3 pitchers per home game this year, which is lower than its total for 14 of the previous 20 seasons that Coors Field has been open.
"I want to show them I can pitch in this place," said Chatwood. "I know it's a hitters' park. That doesn't bother me. That adds to the challenge."
And it's a challenge the Rockies' rotation relishes.