Rox

Rockies first baseman C.J. Cron hit .556 (10-for-18) with three walks, nine runs, a double, four home runs and 16 RBI in five games during Colorado’s recent homestand. (Photo courtesy of Colorado Rockies/Matthew Dirksen)

You can’t spell “altitude” without some “attitude.” Last week the Rockies used healthy doses of both to put together a historically offensive homestand against the Cubs and Marlins. They went 5-1 and outscored their opponents 55-28. It’s what they’re supposed to do.

Yes, even the Rockies — a team 11 games under .500, 14 games out of a Wild Card spot and 21 games behind the division-leading Giants entering Wednesday’s play — are supposed to beat losing teams and beat up on the teams that trail them.

The Marlins entered the weekend series 15 games under .500 and a game behind Colorado in the win column. Chicago was five games under .500 when the club landed in Colorado and had lost five of six while dismantling the team at the trading deadline, fielding a cast of unknowns whose uniforms were the only surviving remnants from the Cubs’ high-water mark as 2016 World Series champions.

After taking two of three from the Cubs — the only loss a 3-2 squeaker that represented Colorado’s 34th loss in games decided by one or two runs — the Rockies swept the Marlins, outscoring them 34-14 in three games. Colorado hit 11 homers in the series, tied for the most in a three-game series in franchise history, and tallied 17 round-trippers on the homestand.

“This homestand was definitely the best we played all season,” first baseman C.J. Cron said Sunday. “We're hitting the cover off the ball. We're finally starting to figure some stuff out.”

Cron paced the club, hitting .556 (10-for-18) with three walks, nine runs, a double, four home runs and 16 RBI in five games. He drove in 13 runs against the Marlins, tying Hall of Famer Larry Walker for the most in a three-game series in franchise history, and he’s the first player since RBI became an official statistic in 1920 to log at least eight runs and 13 RBI in a three-game set.

Cron twice hit two homers in a game, capping the week Sunday with a grand slam among his pair of dingers and a career-best seven RBI in the finale. With all the Blake Street bombs in Rockies history, Cron is the first to ever hit three slams in a single season. His week won him National League Player of the Week honors and catapulted him into contention for Comeback Player of the Year, after a dismal 2020 season with the Tigers, when he hit .190 before missing most of the short year to a knee injury. His best offer for 2021 was the Rockies’ Minor League contract he accepted.

“Last season, for me, was playing 13 games,” Cron said. “I was fortunate enough that the Rockies gave me an opportunity to go out there and get a second chance to play every day.”

Other Rockies boasting big offensive weeks included catcher Elias Diaz (7-for-15 with a pair of homers and six RBI), Sam Hilliard (8-for-19 with three doubles, three homers and five RBI), Connor Joe (6-for-13 with three homers — two on Sunday — and eight RBI), Brendon Rodgers (9-for-21 with four doubles and six runs), and a rejuvenated Trevor Story (11-for-23, with eight runs, four doubles, two homers and six RBI).

“When teams come in here, it's sort of a double-edged sword,” manager Bud Black said after Sunday’s sweep. “The offense for the opponents like coming here to hit. They think for days about Coors Field. Pitchers on the opposing side have nightmares about potentially pitching here, and you can see it in how they pitch. We got to use that to our advantage, because it's real. Inversely, our pitching mindset here, especially for our starters, we don't fear the place. It’s attitude over altitude.”

The real challenge comes as Colorado heads down from the mountains and out on the road this week to face two thriving teams in the Astros and Giants.

“It's a good test anytime you play a first-place team, and we're gonna play two first place teams this week,” Black told the Daily Planet before Tuesday’s opener in Houston. “It's a great test for our team, for our players who don't have a lot of service time, both position players and pitchers, but it does give us a standard to see how we're doing.”

The trip started like eight of their 10 road trips this season have started — with a loss. And after averaging over nine runs a game on the homestand, the Rockies put up nothing but goose eggs in Houston Tuesday, suffering their franchise worst 14th shoutout of the season, all away from home, eclipsing the previous mark set in their inaugural campaign.

“Players thrive on going on the road and playing good teams, being the underdog, and playing the part of the villain. That’s rewarding,” Black said. “Guys like being on the stage, and this week we'll be on a pretty good-sized stage against two really good teams.”

The Rockies are 34-28 since May 30, playing .644 ball at home with as many home wins as any team in baseball through Tuesday. But they’re .241 on the road in what would be the worst full season road record in baseball history. They can’t take the Coors Field altitude with them to sea-level cities, but bringing some Blake Street attitude couldn’t hurt.

“There's only one way to go from here,” losing pitcher John Gray told the Planet after Tuesday’s shutout.

Fans can only hope he’s right.