Still with dreams of making a run at the National League wild card, the Colorado Rockies have a potential nightmare brewing in their bullpen.
The Rockies will look to climb above .500 when they continue their weekend series with the Milwaukee Brewers. However, they could be without injured closer Jose Jimenez, who has been hampered by an ailing back.
The hard-throwing right-hander has not recorded a save since June 28 against Pittsburgh, and has not appeared in a game since allowing a run and three hits in one inning of an 8-4 loss to San Francisco on Sunday.
Jimenez, who had a career-high 41 saves last season, is struggling through a difficult season statistically, likely influenced by his aching back. Jimenez, who is 0-5 with 19 saves and a 6.46 ERA in 49 games, avoided a trip to the disabled list when his back responded well during a bullpen session on Friday.
Still, manager Clint Hurdle is well aware of how quirky back injuries can be.
“If he doesn’t pitch over the weekend,” Hurdle said, “that raises the possibility of his going on the DL. If he starts throwing again, it’ll be a week before he can go in a game. … It’s the first time in three years (with the exception of 2001) that he hasn’t been able to take the ball.”
After splitting four games at Dodger Stadium earlier in the week, the Rockies, who trail Philadelphia by 6 1/2 games in the wild-card race, got this series off to a good start on Friday, beating the Brewers 7-3 behind 6 1-3 innings from Taiwanese right-hander Chin-hui Tsao.
The Brewers have lost five of nine. However, they extended their streak of consecutive games with an extra-base hit to 51 with Eric Young’s leadoff homer on Friday.
The franchise record is 61.
STANDINGS (through July 24): Brewers - 6th place, 14 1/2 GB, NL Central. Rockies - 4th place, 14 1/2 GB, NL West.
BREWERS PROBABLE STARTER: Matt Kinney (6-8, 5.00 ERA). Kinney is winless in four starts since June 27, going 0-2 and allowing 21 earned runs. He allowed seven earned runs and 12 hits over six innings in an 11-2 loss to Cincinnati on Monday. The right-hander, who has allowed two home runs in five of his last seven starts, has never faced Colorado.
ROCKIES PROBABLE STARTER: Denny Stark (1-0, 3.13 ERA). Stark had his third straight solid outing his last time out, allowing one earned run and four hits over seven innings Monday in a 4-1 victory over Los Angeles. Stark, who missed the first three months of the season because of a torn shoulder muscle, is 1-1 with a 6.06 ERA in three career starts against Milwaukee.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Brewers - Scott Podsednik, .301 avg.; Richie Sexson, 27 HRs, 74 RBIs and 63 runs; Podsednik and Young, 20 SBs. Rockies - Todd Helton, .347 avg. and 92 runs; Preston Wilson, 25 HRs and 97 RBIs; Tony Womack, 11 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Rockies, 3-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Brewers - Radio announcer Bob Uecker did not accompany the Brewers to Denver for this series. Uecker went to Cooperstown for induction ceremonies into the broadcasters’ wing of the Hall of Fame. … The Brewers opened a 10-game road trip Friday with their seventh straight loss at Coors Field. … RHP Wes Obermueller had a single in the second, the ninth time in 14 games a Brewers pitcher got a hit. Rockies - The Rockies had an additional 40 media requests for the debut of RHP Tsao. The game also was being televised in Taiwan, with about 900 stations requesting highlights from MLB International. … LHP Denny Neagle, on the DL with an elbow injury, is considering season-ending surgery after tests revealed a continued degeneration of the elbow. … RHP Jimenez has allowed 70 hits in 47 1-3 innings this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Brewers - 22-26 on the road; Rockies - 36-16 at home.
INJURIES: Brewers - RHP Jayson Durocher (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Matt Ford (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Nick Neugebauer (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Ruben Quevedo (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Todd Ritchie (shoulder), 15-day DL. Rockies - RHP Nelson Cruz (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Neagle (elbow), 15-day DL; OF Chris Richard (shoulder), 60-day DL.