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The World Turned Upside Down: Rockies at Phillies, April 24-27, 2006

April 24: Phillies 6, Rockies 5 WP: Lidle (2-2) LP: Fogg (2-1) S: Gordon (6)
April 25: Rockies 7, Phillies 6: WP: Ramirez (2-1) LP: Floyd (1-2) S: Fuentes (3)
April 26: Phillies 9, Rockies 5 WP: Madson (2-1) LP: Jennings (1-1)
April 27: Rockies 6, Phillies 3 WP: Cook (2-3) LP: Franklin (1-2)

For more Rockies coverage, please visit our SBN sister site at Purple Row.

What a difference a month makes. Any half-lucid Phils phan checking out the early-season schedule back in March probably looked at this four-game set against the Colorado Rockies as a gift from the league office: the better part of a week against a franchise that historically can't win at sea level. If you knew that Todd Helton, the Rox' signature player who's on a borderline Hall-of-Fame career arc, would be sidelined for the series (stomach ailment), you probably wrote this in as a sweep for the home nine.

But that was then, and now is the Rockies entering tonight's game with an MLB-best 5-1 road record while the Phils stagger in with a baseball-worst 3-8 home mark. Now also is with three of Colorado's four scheduled starters in possession of lower ERAs than anybody slated to pitch for the Phils. After Cory Lidle, who's pitched to a hard-luck 5.00 ERA despite a K/BB ratio of 17 to 1, the ERAs look like they belong to a patsy team in a videogame: 6.75 (Floyd), 8.36 (Madson), 7.99 (Lieber). Against a Colorado offense with a team OPS of .833, it's unclear how much improvement reasonably can be expected. Four of Colorado's likely eight starters--including Eli Marrero, in for Helton at first base--bring OPS marks of .970 or better into the series.

The real question is whether the Phillies' still-slumbering attack can rouse itself against a Rockies pitching staff that probably isn't as good as its numbers suggest. As a staff, Colorado pitchers are allowing a batting average of .270; the Phils' arms are at .302, which strongly suggests that bad luck has coupled with bad pitching to produce some of those crooked numbers. Josh Fogg is a decent big-league pitcher, but it's a stretch to believe that his career BAA of .280 isn't more illustrative of his true talents than the .231 average he's allowed through three starts this season. And one-time Phils farmhand Miguel Asencio is unscored-upon in his one inning of work this season, but for his career he's still allowed more walks (87) than strikeouts (86). A little patience could take the Phils a long way against the 25 year-old righty.

Also worth noting will be if the Phils can avoid sustaining more damage at the hands of opposing pitchers at the plate. Colorado's four starters are a combined 2-for-23 batting this season; after getting ravaged by Livan Hernandez last week and even surrendering a hit to Sergio Mitre yesterday, it would be nice to see the Phils hurlers shut down their opposite numbers.