The big series in the National League West this weekend, as you may have heard, is taking place at Petco Park.
The Rockies are not there.
"That's great for the Rockies," ex-Colorado outfielder Brad Hawpe said this week. "It takes the attention off them. I've been there when we were counted out. And I've got a ring to show for it."
If the Rockies keep stealing home and overcoming 5-0 deficits, they might grab the attention right back. And if they take advantage of this weekend's Giants-Padres series -- every day, one of the teams in front of them will lose every day -- the NL West could become the hottest three-team race in baseball.
"It's kind of crazy over there," Hawpe said.
The Rockies dumped Hawpe late last month, and now he could end up playing in the American League playoffs with the Rays, who signed him and have been giving him something of a tryout for a spot on the postseason roster. Meanwhile, he'll watch from afar as the Rockies try to do what they did in 2007 and 2009, moving from nearly out of the race at the start of September to a spot in the playoffs at the end of the month.
Three years ago, the Rockies went 21-8 in the final month, famously winning 21 out of 22 (including playoffs) in their run to the World Series. Last year, they were 20-11 after Aug. 31.
This year? They're off to a 7-2 start in September. They were seven games out of the division lead and 4 1/2 out of the wild-card lead when the month began; now they're 3 1/2 back in both races.
It's a typical Rockies September, just as it has so far been a typical Phillies September (7-2) and a typical Twins September (7-1).
On to 3 to watch, on a weekend with so many good matchups that we had to leave out the Armando Galarraga-Jim Joyce reunion (Friday night in Detroit), and the Cardinals-Braves series in Atlanta:
1. Hawpe also said he's pulling hard for Carlos Gonzalez to be the National League's Most Valuable Player, and for Ubaldo Jimenez to win the Cy Young Award. Jimenez will need a strong finish to win, but he'll get a chance at becoming the NL's first 19-game winner when he starts in Diamondbacks at Rockies, Saturday night (8:10 ET) at Coors Field . In four meetings with Arizona this year, Jimenez is 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA. In 11 games against the Diamondbacks (who originally signed him), Gonzalez is hitting .444 with five home runs, 14 RBI and a 1.500 OPS.
2. When the Yankees and Rangers met last month, it felt like an American League Championship Series preview. They meet again this weekend, but it feels like just another step for two teams anxious to answer their October question marks. The Yankees will be excited or frustrated after A.J. Burnett's start on Saturday, and the Rangers will be relieved or alarmed after they watch Cliff Lee's expected return to the rotation, in Yankees at Rangers, Sunday afternoon (3:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark . For all the worry about the Yankees rotation behind CC Sabathia, the Rangers don't have much chance if Lee isn't healthy, do they?
3. When Mat Latos had to miss his scheduled start for the Padres last Monday night, because of a stomach flu, it was seen as one more thing going wrong for a team in a tailspin. Instead, the Padres used their bullpen to beat the Dodgers that night (ending a 10-game losing streak), and Latos was able to come back and beat the Dodgers again on Tuesday. It also set up the Padres ace to face Giants ace Tim Lincecum in Giants at Padres, Sunday afternoon (4:05 ET) at Petco Park , in the final game of this weekend's four-game series (but not the final meeting between two teams that will play a three-game series in San Francisco on Oct. 1-3). Latos, who was signed by Giants manager Bruce Bochy's brother (a Padres scout), has allowed just three runs in 28 innings in four starts against the Giants this year (including two 1-0 wins). Lincecum has faced the Padres just once this season, and it didn't go well, as he was knocked out in the fourth inning of an 8-2 loss on Aug. 15. He has only four wins in 12 career starts against the Padres (his fewest against an NL West opponent), although his career ERA against San Diego is 2.16.