The Rockies believe themselves to be legitimate contenders in the National League West -- and why shouldn't they? Through a month and a half, they've hit as well as anyone, and their pitching staff has greatly improved from last season.
But there's one major hurdle in Colorado's quest to compete in one of baseball's most competitive divisions: the San Francisco Giants.
That hurdle comes to town Thursday night for the first game of a four-game set at Coors Field. The Giants swept the Rockies in San Francisco earlier this season, and they have won 30 of 39 games between the two clubs since 2011.
"This is very important," said Thursday starter Jhoulys Chacin. "We really want to be in the competition this year, so we really have to beat those teams. ... We just have to play the right way."
Rockies manager Walt Weiss had nothing but praise for the Giants' approach, which, of course, has garnered San Francisco two titles in the past three seasons.
"They put together a lot of team at-bats," Weiss said. "They're a real good situational at-bat team. They don't expand the zone to help out the pitcher, to let the pitcher off the hook. The pitcher is constantly having to earn every out they get against that club."
Right-hander Matt Cain gets the ball for San Francisco, looking to continue his solid month. Cain posted an abysmal 6.49 ERA in April, but has since notched a 1.76 mark and run his record even at 2-2 with a pair of victories.
Cain has generally had success against some of the Rockies' best hitters. Todd Helton (.208 average), Carlos Gonzalez (.118) and Dexter Fowler (.158) have all struggled. But shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has hit Cain well, posting a .340 mark with four homers in 53 at-bats.
Meanwhile, Chacin (3-2, 2.70 ERA) has been arguably the Rockies' most consistent starter this year. He has lost his last two starts, however, and allowed eight hits in each of them.
Giants: Scutaro still streaking
Second baseman Marco Scutaro extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a two-out single in the ninth inning Wednesday.
Scutaro is hitting .482 since the streak began after batting just .215 in his first 23 games of the season.
He did, however, have his streak of seven straight multi-hit games snapped. No Giant has recorded multiple hits in eight games since Bill Terry did so in 1934.
Rockies: Home-field advantage?
The Rockies may be 11-7 at home this season, but recently, it's been a bit of a struggle for them at Coors Field. They have dropped each of their last three series there to a trio of contending teams -- Atlanta, Tampa Bay and the Yankees.
During those nine games, the Rockies averaged 3.56 runs per game, exactly three runs fewer than they averaged during their first nine home games.
"It's tougher to accept when we don't do it at home," Weiss said. "That's the thing we talked about a lot in the beginning of the season -- establishing our success and dominance at home."
• Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval has owned Chacin, batting .412 in 17 at-bats with two homers and a .941 slugging percentage.
• The Giants have played in two four-game series this season, taking three of four in each.
• Colorado hasn't won a season series against the Giants since 2008.