For most of the Colorado Rockies' 25-year existence, their identity has been tied to offense.
That has been, at best, an afterthought, thanks to the reality of pitching a mile above sea level.
But, the Rockies come to St. Louis on Monday night to open a four-game series with the Cardinals as one of the hottest teams in baseball, thanks to a pitching staff that's getting outs with the best of them.
Sunday's 3-2 win over Oakland completed a weekend sweep of a team that arrived in Denver with a six-game winning streak. It was Colorado's 19th win in 24 games, moving it within a game of the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the National League West.
German Marquez fronted the latest win, firing 7 2/3 innings and allowing just two runs and five hits for his fourth straight victory. The outing set the Rockies starters' home ERA for July at 1.71, a franchise record for one month by more than a run per game.
"It starts with the mindset that a lot of our starters have had of late, meaning the last six weeks," Colorado manager Bud Black told MLB.com. "The thought process is strike one. If I don't get strike one, I'm throwing strike two -- the overall aggressiveness of getting the ball in the strike zone early."
Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson (6-3, 3.57 ERA) will try to keep the roll going in the first game of a seven-game road trip. Anderson has been no-decisioned in his last four starts, although it's not because he hasn't been effective.
In an 8-2 loss Tuesday night against Houston, Anderson lasted 7 1/3 innings, allowing just three hits and two runs with three walks and four strikeouts. Anderson has yielded only five runs in his last 35 1/3 innings, spanning his last five outings.
While the Rockies (57-47) can count on a good outing these days from Anderson, there's no telling what St. Louis (53-52) is going to get from Carlos Martinez (6-6, 3.39 ERA). That rings doubly true because Martinez is making his first start after his second stint on the disabled list this year.
Martinez last pitched on July 19 at the Chicago Cubs, falling 9-6 and straining his right oblique muscle in the process of allowing seven hits and six runs in five innings. It was his second straight defeat after three consecutive wins in which he gave up just five runs in 19 innings.
The Cardinals missed on a chance to pull within six games of the Cubs in the NL Central on Sunday night, losing 5-2 as their shaky defense gave Chicago five outs in a three-run fifth inning that made the difference.
St. Louis remains in fourth place in the division. The Cardinals also fell to five games behind Arizona for the NL's second wild-card spot. They need to pass three other teams besides the Diamondbacks to reach wild card No. 2.
With that in mind, St. Louis' remaining moves before Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET trade deadline might reflect future needs instead of present wants.
"We're looking at things that help us as an organization beyond just this year," Cardinals general manager Mike Girsch said to MLB.com. "We hope they help us this year as well. But we're looking at it long term."