Rox offense has been strength of late

Rox offense has been strength of late

ST. LOUIS -- What has happened with the Rockies' offense?

That question has followed the Rockies through the course of this season. But now, at least, it's being asked with a smile.

The Rockies outscored the Cardinals, 28-7, in winning the first three of a four-game series that concluded Monday afternoon at Busch Stadium. Add a 10-3 victory over the Astros that started a four-game win streak, and the Rockies have outscored opponents, 38-10.

For a team that had to change managers May 29, mainly because of a struggling offense, this is a reversal. But ask those in purple pinstripes, and they say this is merely how it's supposed to be.

"Honestly, it's not a surprise to me that we're swinging the bats as well as we are right now, and there are still guys that are going to get hot and swing better than they are right now," said second baseman Clint Barmes, who went into Monday 7-for-14 against the Cards.

"Coming out of Spring Training, we were hoping to see more of this. It's nice everybody is having quality at-bats and finding ways to get on base."

Barmes and Ian Stewart had five straight games of multiple hits, and Brad Hawpe had a nine-game streak when Monday's game began.

With the Rockies 6-4 since Jim Tracy took over for Clint Hurdle as manager, the logical question is whether there has been a change in strategy. No one says there has been.

Hurdle, a former hitting coach, wanted the Rockies to be aggressive offensively as much as anyone. But hitters watched too many good pitches for strikes. In fact, according to Jeff Chernow, baseball editor at STATS Inc., 48 percent of the strikeouts this season under Hurdle were called third strikes.

The pattern worsened in the first days under Tracy. Going into Monday, 53 percent of the strikeouts were looking. But Tracy's harping on the issue has paid off in the last four games.

After a game in Houston in which the Rockies took nine third strikes, Tracy revealed that he had told his players to watch the two most effective hitters -- Hawpe and Todd Helton. Tracy was upset that it looked like they hadn't learned from Hawpe's ability to cover various areas of the strike zone and Helton's penchant for fouling off hard-to-handle pitches until he saw a good pitch to hit.

Tracy said the message hasn't changed since the problems arose early in the year.

"To me, that's a sign of growth," Tracy said. "When you are teaching and you have young people that you're trying to get them to a certain plateau, I don't think you should ever feel that you say it one time and think that it's going to cement itself in there and you're never going to have to mention it again.

"The more you say it and get your point across without being a pain in the rear end to them, all of a sudden, their thought process becomes, 'I think this guy thinks this stuff is really important.'"

Thomas Harding is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.