The Colorado Rockies (22-18) and Philadelphia Phillies (25-16) lead their respective NL West and East divisions by one-half game each, but you wouldn’t know it by their recent play.
Philadelphia is in the midst of a four-game losing streak and what’s been hampering them their lack of prowess at the plate.
During the losing streak, the Phillies have scored a measly seven runs with an absurd .142 batting average as a team. The heart of the order, Raul Ibanez and Ryan Howard, are as crucial to Philly as they are to any contending team in baseball, but neither have mustered a single hit during the four-game slide.
Like the Phillies, the Rockies’ recent struggles were related to their bats under-producing hits and therefore, runs.
Before sweeping San Francisco in a two-game series Tuesday, Colorado couldn’t hit the baseball; they scored only 3.9 runs per contest (including a 12-run outing last Friday) and were a terrible 3-11 in May to that point.
But with the shelling of San Francisco’s ace Tim Lincecum Monday came confidence.
And with the second comeback win in as many days last night, the Rockies realize they can compete with the world champions—Colorado can be Giant killers.
And it all starts with Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.
Tulo, who was California summer hot in April (he must have had a flash back to his college days at Long Beach State), has been as cold as ice at the plate as of late. He’s struggled mightily in May (.186 BA, .250 OBP) but he seems to have busted out of the funk and over his last five games he’s gone 7-21 (.333) with two home runs and eight RBI.
Like Tulowitzki, CarGo has gone yard twice in the last five games, racking up eight RBI of his own, none more important than the three-run blast that sailed majestically into the Denver night and boosted the Rockies to a 7-4 win over Lincecum and the Giants. Gonzalez did it again last night with his clutch single down the right field line that sent two home, the eventual winning runs.
Don’t doubt that Colorado is on a rocky mountain high right now after beating the rival Giants in back-to-back games and they face pitcher Cole Hamels. Hamels has enjoyed a strong season (4-2 3.19 ERA) but he did give up four runs on eight hits in his last start Friday.
Starting against Hamels is the Rockies’ most important pitcher of this current season, Jorge De La Rosa. De La Rosa sports the best record on the Rockies (5-1) with a 3.70 ERA and 45 Ks and he’s been their most consistent starter overall. Though, like Hamels, De La Rosa struggled in his last start on Friday, he gave up nine hits and five runs in only 5 2/3 innings pitched. Luckily for him the Rockies’ bats bailed him out, they scored 12 runs against the Padres and earned De La Rosa a win that night.
Overall, this game is poised as a massive match up of strong starting pitchers and potentially potent players at the plate from both teams. It’s so big, the game is on ESPN’s Wednesday Night Baseball and the first pitch is scheduled for 5:10 pm MT.
Shouldn’t be missed:
Jim Armstong of the Denver Post reported via twitter, “Great. Just leaving for citizens bk park n theres a tornado warning on tv. Black skies” Meaning the game may be delayed due to rain, or it could be one of those sloppy mess games that can be some of the most fun to watch.
The Phillies are 13-7 at home, which is second-best in the NL to Cincinnati (15-9).
The Rockies’ 11-8 record on the road is second-best in the NL to Florida (12-7).
Colorado and Philadelphia played against one another in the NL Division Series in 2007 (Rockies won 3-0) and in 2009 (Phillies won 3-1).