Rockies return from successful road trip, rarity in '14
DENVER (AP) The Colorado Rockies have already begun to answer one big question facing them in 2015: Can they win on the road?
After winning just six of their final 45 road games last season, the Rockies opened this season with a three-game sweep of the Brewers at Milwaukee.
''It's great getting off to a start like this, particularly on the road, where we had some tough history - especially last year,'' said Rockies manager Walt Weiss, whose club went 21-60 on the road in 2014. ''But this is a different year. This is a different team. It's a nice way to start.''
The Rockies bring their stacked lineup and curiosity of a pitching staff back to Colorado for their home opener Friday against the Chicago Cubs. Rockies lefty Tyler Matzek (6-11, 4.05 ERA in 2014) faces Travis Wood (9-13, 5.03 ERA last year) on Friday afternoon at sold-out Coors Field.
Both teams were off Thursday, and the Rockies canceled their workout after going into extra innings the night before, when Wilin Rosario won it with a pinch-hit solo homer in the 10th on his first swing of the season.
''We've got guys off the bench who are still locked in,'' reliever John Axford said about Rosario's heroics. ''He won us the ballgame.''
Axford, who had 106 saves for the Brewers from 2009-12, earned his first save for Colorado by pitching a 1-2-3 10th inning to seal the 5-4 win.
The Rockies collected 38 hits in the series, including 16 doubles, five homers and a .585 slugging percentage. Their dozen doubles in the first two games tied a MLB record set by the New York Giants in 1912.
They won with the long ball on Wednesday night, when Carlos Gonzalez hit a 466-foot, two-run homer in the eighth inning and Rosario won it in the 10th.
''We've had to get better on the road,'' Gonzalez said. ''What a way to start the season.''
Gonzalez and fellow slugger Troy Tulowitzki have spearheaded the Rockies' hot start. Tulowitzki is hitting .429 and Gonzalez is hitting .385 with three doubles and a homer to open the season.
Both sluggers were hurt much of last year.
''It feels great,'' Gonzalez said. ''I'm putting a good swing on the ball.''
He's not alone.
Their pitching, which many suspect will be the decider this season, was just as impressive in Milwaukee, posting a 1.93 ERA in helping the Rockies sweep a road series for the first time since June 13-15 at San Francisco.
They went 6-39 on the road last season after that, leading to offseason changes in the front office and clubhouse.
They're hoping it all leads to a change of fortunes for a franchise that has averaged 93 losses over the last four seasons. So far, they're off to a good start.
AP freelancer Rich Rovito contributed from Milwaukee.