They are the Yankees. The Rockies are not. After a series when his Colorado hitters looked so awestruck that strike three became almost inevitable, manager Walt Weiss used a discouraging word seldom heard on Blake Street during recent seasons.

"Unacceptable," Weiss said Thursday, after the Rockies went down meekly in a 3-1 loss to the Yankees.

There was no other word for it.

This is not acceptable: During the past 17 games, the Rockies' record is 6-11.

It's unacceptable, unless Colorado is bent on squandering a feel-good April.

It's unacceptable for a ballclub intent on reclaiming home-field advantage to lose three consecutive series at Coors Field.

It's unacceptable, even for a team that lost 98 times a year ago.

And it's about time somebody in the Rockies organization had the guts to tell players the hard truth.

For too long, the Rockies have been coddled. Accountability was a dirty word. We were supposed to feel sorry for young players, and take them all out for ice cream to mask the taste of failure.

Weiss is not a screamer. But, in defeat, he wears a mad face that can amplify a single word to the power of 10:

Unacceptable.

"No one said this thing was going to be easy. There's going to be a few bumps in the road. It's going to take all the way 'til the end if you're going to be successful. There's definitely a learning curve where some of these guys are growing up real quick," Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said.

"I think this team is starting to believe we're a good team. And it's nice to see some of these young guys say, 'Last year was a tough year, but we do have a good team.' "

The faith of the Rockies is now being tested.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, when the grandstands were so overrun by rowdy interlopers wearing pinstripes that LoDo could have been annexed as the sixth borough of New York, legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was on the mound, doing that thing he does.

Rivera reared back and brought the only pitch he needs. Young Colorado hitters Wilin Rosario, Nolan Arenado and Josh Rutledge looked so helpless against the old master's cutter that they might as well have dropped the bat and asked Rivera for an autograph.

"I try to tell some of these guys there's two ways to look at this thing. You're playing against the Yankees and you're facing Mariano Rivera," Tulowitzki said. "You can either let the name beat you. Or you can say, 'Hey, I've been watching this guy my whole life and now I'm up for this challenge, and I'm going to battle my butt off.' "