Despite their 7-1 road record, it's easy for the Colorado Rockies to find critics.
In one road trip, the Rockies have already done more on their travels than they did in 2010. They found a way to win in both Pittsburgh and New York—two places that have given them fits in the past, for whatever reason.
However, despite ending the tradition of struggling in both of those cities, critics are still not sold on the team's sudden transformation into road warriors.
It's hard to blame them, just one year removed from the Rockies going a miserable 31-50 away from Coors Field.
The critics point to the fact that the Rockies have only been in Pittsburgh and New York, facing two teams that have zero chance of making the postseason.
Those arguments are fair—especially considering the Rockies' poor performance on the road, just one year ago.
However, those who pay attention to this team on a daily basis know that, regardless of their opponent, something is different about this year's Rockies. For example, despite falling behind in six of their seven victories, the Rockies rallied to wins.
That alone, irrespective of the opponent, is something that wouldn't have happened in 2010.
On the road, when the Rockies were behind—even by a run—they folded. They would make the opposing pitcher, whether it was Ross Ohlendorf or Pat Misch, look like Nolan Ryan.
In 2011, however, they are fighting back and finding ways to win close games.
This road trip will certainly be more difficult for the Rockies.
On Sunday, they face Josh Johnson, a pitcher who has Cy Young stuff and pitches in a huge park. Had Johnson not been shut down with injury in August 2010, he would have been a serious contender for the Cy Young Award in the National League.
With Johnson going on Sunday against Ubaldo Jimenez, who is still a huge question mark as far as health and velocity goes, the Rockies need to strike early.
They should have a good chance on Friday with 23-year-old Jhoulys Chacin on the mound against Anibal Sanchez.
Sanchez is a good pitcher, having thrown a no-hitter, but Chacin has stepped up in the absence of Jimenez as the club's most dependable pitcher over the course of the first month.
On Saturday, Esmil Rogers gets his first chance to prove that his outing on Monday against the Giants was no fluke. He faces veteran Javier Vazquez, who hasn't lasted past the sixth inning in any of his three starts so far in 2011.
The key for the Rockies is not to press.
They don't need to win every game or even every series on the road. If they find a way to come back to Coors Field with a 3-3 record after this six-game road trip, they'll be fine.
Quieting the critics is going to take more than a good road trip against the Pirates and Mets. However, the Rockies don't need to prove their critics wrong by the end of April.
If they try and do that, they will get themselves in trouble by pressing too much and feeling as if they can't afford to lose.
So long as they focus on what is important and find ways to win games that they have a chance to win, they will find themselves in a good position.
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