Sunday, September 19, 2004

"Coors Field: Where No Lead Is Safe"

I'm not in the habit of watching Baseball Tonight or Sportscenter anymore, but I seem to recall that any game involving a comeback was accompanied by the utterance of "Coors Field: Where no lead is safe." This weekend was as good an example as can be, as the Rockies led the Dodgers by 5 or more runs in all three games but lost twice.

How often do the Rockies either blow 5-run leads or come back from 5-run leads and how often do they win those games? Sorry to get all Jayson Stark on you, but I decided to collect the near-worthless data and Retrosheet it up in order to find every game in Rockies franchise history where a 5-run lead by either team was relinquished. Here's the unabridged list for your perusing pleasure (feel free to skip to the bottom):

5/4/93 at ChC: led 10-5, blew lead, won 14-13 (11 innings)
5/8/93 vs. Atl: led 6-0, lost 8-7
6/12/93 vs. Hou: trailed 7-0, won 14-11
7/7/93 vs. Fla: trailed 5-0, won 6-5
4/20/94 vs. Fla: led 5-0, blew lead, won 16-6
6/28/94 vs. SD: trailed 8-0, won 10-9
7/2/94 at StL: trailed 5-0, won 7-5
7/20/94 vs. ChC: trailed 5-0, took lead, lost 9-8

4/27/95 vs. NYM: trailed 5-0 and 7-2, won 8-7
5/3/95 vs. SD: trailed 5-0, won 12-7
8/4/95 vs. SD: led 7-0 and 8-1, blew lead, won 14-12
8/24/95 vs. Pit: trailed 6-1, won 8-6
10/1/95 vs. SF: trailed 8-2, won 10-9
4/8/96 vs. ChC: trailed 6-0, tied game, lost 9-6
4/10/96 vs. ChC: trailed 6-1, won 10-9
4/15/96 vs. SD: trailed 5-0 and 9-4, won 11-9
4/24/96 vs. Phi: trailed 6-1, took lead, lost 10-8
5/17/96 vs. StL: led 6-0, blew lead, won 12-11

7/11/96 vs. SD: trailed 9-2, won 13-12
7/23/96 vs. NYM: led 7-1, blew lead, won 10-7
7/23/96 vs. NYM: led 7-0, blew lead, won 11-10
8/10/96 at Atl: led 7-0, blew lead, won 9-7 (10 innnings)
8/25/96 vs. Pit: trailed 5-0, won 13-9
9/10/96 vs. Atl: trailed 5-0, won 9-8
5/26/97 vs. StL: trailed 6-0, won 9-7
6/12/97 at Sea: led 6-0, lost 12-11
6/17/97 vs. Tex: trailed 8-3, tied game, lost 10-8 (11 innings)
6/18/97 vs. Tex: trailed 7-1, won 10-9

7/13/97 vs. SD: led 6-0 and 10-5, lost 13-11
9/28/97 vs. LA: led 9-4, blew lead, won 13-9
5/6/98 vs. Phi: trailed 5-0, took lead, lost 7-6
6/7/98 at Ana: trailed 5-0, tied game, lost 6-5
6/24/98 vs. Hou: trailed 6-0, won 8-6
7/20/98 at Hou: trailed 8-1, tied game, lost 10-9
7/27/98 vs. Pit: trailed 7-2, won 8-7
8/25/98 vs. Mil: trailed 6-1, won 11-6
8/27/98 vs. ChC: led 9-3, lost 11-10
9/9/98 vs. Fla: trailed 8-3, won 9-8

9/23/98 vs. Ari: led 11-6, blew lead, won 14-11
9/27/98 vs. SF: trailed 7-0, won 9-8
5/4/99 at ChC: trailed 8-2, took lead, lost 13-12
5/19/99 vs. Cin: trailed 6-0, tied game, lost 24-12
5/21/99 vs. Ari: led 7-2, blew lead, won 8-7 (11 innings)
6/18/99 vs. Fla: trailed 9-4, won 11-10
6/22/99 vs. ChC: led 9-1, 10-5, and 12-7, lost 13-12
6/24/99 vs. ChC: trailed 5-0, tied game, lost 12-10
8/13/99 vs. Mon: trailed 6-1, tied game, trailed 12-6, tied game, lost 14-13 (10 innings)
8/30/99 vs. Pit: trailed 6-0, tied game, lost 11-8

9/12/99 vs. Mil: trailed 5-0, took lead, lost 12-9
9/17/99 vs. LA: led 8-1, blew lead, won 18-10
9/21/99 vs. Ari: trailed 6-1, tied game, lost 7-6
5/9/00 at Hou: led 5-0 and 7-1, lost 13-8
5/13/00 vs. SF: led 8-3 and 9-4, blew lead, won 10-9
5/23/00 vs. ChC: trailed 6-0, won 10-7
5/25/00 vs ChC: led 5-0, lost 6-5
5/27/00 vs Pit: trailed 5-0, won 7-6
6/26/00 vs. SF: led 5-0, blew lead, won 15-6
6/28/00 vs. SF: trailed 6-0, 8-1, and 11-5, won 17-13

7/17/00 vs. Oak: trailed 6-1, took lead, lost 11-10
8/7/00 vs. Pit: trailed 5-0, took lead, lost 8-7
8/22/00 vs. Atl: led 6-1, blew lead, won 7-6 (12 innings)
4/14/01 vs. Ari: led 5-0, blew lead, won 9-8
4/27/01 vs. Cin: trailed 5-0, took lead, lost 12-9
5/28/01 vs. LA: led 8-3, lost 11-10
6/12/01 vs. SEA: trailed 9-4, tied game, lost 10-9
6/27/01 vs. SD: trailed 6-1 and 8-3, won 10-9
7/21/01 vs. LA: trailed 5-0, tied game, lost 22-7
8/17/01 vs. Fla: trailed 5-0, won 12-5

9/27/01 vs. SD: trailed 8-0, won 13-9
6/20/02 vs. NYY: trailed 7-1 and 8-2, won 14-11 (10 innings)
6/23/02 vs. TB: led 5-0, blew lead, won 6-5
9/21/02 vs. Ari: trailed 6-1, won 15-8
4/19/03 vs. SD: led 7-0, blew lead, won 10-9
4/30/03 vs. Cin: trailed 5-0, took 7-5 lead, lost 13-11
5/13/03 vs. NYM: trailed 7-0, won 9-8
5/26/03 vs. SF: trailed 6-1, won 12-7
7/7/03 at Ari: led 5-0, lost 14-6
8/1/03 at Pit: led 7-2 and 11-6, lost 12-11 (Pirates score 6 in Bot. 9th)

9/5/03 vs. LA: led 6-1 and 7-2, lost 8-7
5/17/04 vs. Phi: trailed 6-0, won 7-6
6/7/04 vs. SF: trailed 5-0, tied the game, lost 10-5
6/9/04 at NYY: led 5-0, lost 7-5
7/4/04 vs. Det: trailed 8-0, won 10-8
7/6/04 at SF: trailed 6-1, won 8-6
9/3/04 at SD: led 5-0, lost 7-6
9/17/04 vs. LA: led 6-1, lost 8-6 (10 innings)
9/19/04 vs. LA: led 5-0, lost 7-6

If you were looking carefully at July '96, that's not a typo on the 23rd. The Rockies blew a 6-run lead in game 1 and a 7-run lead in game 2 of a doubleheader with the Mets but managed to win both games. Also noteworthy is that many times the games seem to be clustered. 12 of the 87 games happened two or fewer days after another of the games, including 7 series with 2 such games. In those series, the two blown-5-run-lead games were split three times, the Rockies won both twice, and twice the Rockies have lost both games. This weekend's series was the first the Rockies had had with two blown 5-run leads since June 2000.

The Rockies have played 87 games where a team blew a 5-run lead, and only 12 were on the road. That makes their overall park factor for games where 5-run leads are blown a whopping 7250 (7900 at Coors, 4000 at Mile High). Interestingly, their first such game was on the road and until this weekend they'd been even on home/road for such games in 2004 (now it's 5 at home, 3 away).

The Rockies have gone 51-36 (.586) in these games versus 827-954 (.464) in games where no one blew that big of a lead. That's pretty good since they trailed by 5 runs or more in 55 of those games. The Rockies were 17-15 when they blew 5-run leads and 34-21 when erasing a 5-run deficit. Colorado's success in these situations isn't surprising since they've been built around offense most of these years and they typically do a very good job putting their bullpen together. In these games, the team that blew the 5-run lead won 38 times and lost 49 times. The teams that benefited most from these games were the Cubs (8-3) and Dodgers(5-2), while the Padres (2-7) and Giants (1-7), which I guess indicates that success in games with the Rockies where one team blows a 5-run lead does not correlate positively with a team's ability to make the playoffs.

I don't know how often these games happen in games the Rockies don't play, but I'm fairly certain it's not close to the rate at Coors Field. I'm not sure whether having a team in Colorado is good for Major League Baseball or not, but if teams coming back from large defecits is your cup of tea you're probably glad that it does.

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