"No one expected anything from us to begin the season," shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "I think we started playing a little bit better than people expected, and now we're doing what everybody thought. Hopefully we can finish strong and build on something to end the season."
Following another lackluster offensive performance in a 2-1 loss to the Mets on Thursday at Citi Field, the Rockies closed their three-city, 10-game road trip with a 1-9 record. They were outscored 62-23 by the Braves, Pirates and Mets. They've scored only six runs in their last five games, all losses, and are now 0-29 when the opponent scores first on the road.
"It'll be good to get back home," manager Walt Weiss said. "Maybe we can get jump-started, particularly on the offensive side and get clicking."
But on Thursday, the Rockies again let another good pitching performance slip away.
Jeff Manship, who was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs to start in place of Tyler Chatwood, gave the Rockies a strong start in his Colorado debut and first Major League start this season. He allowed just two runs on four hits, with three walks and four strikeouts, over five innings.
It was a whirlwind day for Manship, who arrived in New York at 5 a.m. ET after taking a red-eye flight from Colorado Springs.
"I was pretty happy with it," Manship said of his performance. "I was able to keep the game close as best as possible. You can't ask for more, really. Especially given the day I had, it was a little bit of a rough travel day. I was able to overcome that and give my best out there."
Colorado got off to a productive start against Mets starter Dillon Gee as right fielder Charlie Blackmon and second baseman DJ LeMahieu hit consecutive singles to open the game. But faulty baserunning cost the Rockies.
Center fielder Corey Dickerson hit a fly ball to right field. LeMahieu tried to tag up, but Marlon Byrd made a strong throw to second to throw him out and complete the double play. A potential rally came to an abrupt end when Michael Cuddyer grounded out to second to end the inning.
The Rockies scored when Dickerson led off the fourth inning with a home run over the right-field wall. After that, they couldn't get much going against Gee.
"He's got a good changeup that he can go to at any time to get the hitters off his fastball, and he can throw breaking balls for a strike," Weiss said of Gee. "When you do that, you can command the at-bats. He's been throwing the ball pretty well, and he did a nice job today."
The Mets, though, put together a big inning in their half of the fourth. Second baseman Daniel Murphy and Byrd hit back-to-back singles to start the frame, and then Manship walked first baseman Ike Davis to load the bases with no outs.
Manship couldn't escape trouble.
Third baseman Wilmer Flores hit an RBI groundout to the shortstop, and then catcher Anthony Recker hit a sacrifice fly to center to give New York a 2-1 lead.
"We didn't exactly knock the ball all over the ballpark," Mets manager Terry Collins said, "but it shows you, you can win games if you do the little things."
The Rockies didn't pose much of a threat to tie the game, although Jeff Francis, Josh Outman and Matt Belisle pitched three scoreless innings to give them a chance.
The loss sealed what's been a trying 11 days for Colorado since leaving Denver last week.
On Wednesday, the Rockies placed All-Star left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who was hitting .302 with 26 home runs and 70 RBIs, on the 15-day disabled list because of his sprained right middle finger. Gonzalez's void is difficult to fill, and it's coming at a time when the entire lineup is scuffling.
"You take a guy out of the middle of your order, I think on any club you're going to feel it," Weiss said. "He's won games on the defensive side for us. He's an amazing talent. When you take a guy like that out of your lineup, you're going to feel it. Guys have to step up and do their part."
On Thursday, Chatwood went on the DL with inflammation in his right elbow.
The injuries and losses added up to a forgettable road trip for the Rockies. They now head home looking to be reenergized, hoping this recent stretch will end once they step back on the grass at Coors Field.
"You're going to go through some bad times in the season," Tulowitzki said. "This has definitely been our worst of the season."