Last year, the Colorado Rockies put together one of the most impressive stretch runs ever en route to their first World Series appearance in franchise history.
It looks like they aren’t waiting till September to start their 2008 surge.
The Rockies go for their eighth win in nine games on Saturday night when they continue a three-game road series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Colorado was in fourth place in the NL West on Sept. 15 of last season before winning 13 of its last 14 regular-season contests and a play-in game to capture the wild card and end an 11-season postseason drought before reaching the World Series.
This year’s Rockies (46-58) struggled to live up to that strong finish, falling to 32-51 by losing their last eight games in June. However, they’ve won seven of eight to improve to 14-7 in July and pull within six games of division-leading Arizona.
Colorado got eight strong innings from Aaron Cook and compiled 15 hits for its sixth consecutive double-digit hit total in a 7-2 win over Cincinnati on Friday night. Outfielder Matt Holliday went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and is 12-for-19 (.632) with two homers, seven RBIs and nine runs scored during his streak of five straight multihit games.
“Our offense was using the whole field,” said Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, whose team is averaging 7.5 runs and batting .370 in its last eight contests.
The Reds’ offense started the second-half strong as well, averaging 6.0 runs in its first seven games after the All-Star break before struggling Friday. Cincinnati (50-54) was held to five hits in the first eight innings of its third loss in five games.
The Reds hope to bounce back against Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa (4-5, 6.71 ERA), who’s coming off his second quality start of the season.
The fiery left-hander held Pittsburgh to one run while striking out seven in six innings of a 7-1 victory last Saturday. He gave up the run in the first inning, but kept his poise and struck out Jose Bautista with the bases loaded to escape the jam.
“There’s times these guys have to figure these things out on their own,” Hurdle told the Rockies’ official Web site. “And he did in the first inning. That’s been the kind of inning where he’s melted down.”
De La Rosa has a 14.73 ERA in seven career games—one start—against the Reds. He hasn’t faced them since May 23, 2006.
Cincinnati will hand the ball to Homer Bailey (0-3, 6.29). The Reds have lost all five games started by their 2004 first-round pick, who’s winless in 15 starts between the majors and minor since April 30.
The 22-year-old right-hander gave up three runs in 6 1-3 innings of his last start Monday before the Cincinnati bullpen coughed up the lead in a 6-4 loss to San Diego.
“It’s just no luck,” Bailey told the Reds’ official Web site.
Bailey, who’s 4-5 with a 5.94 ERA in 14 career starts in the majors, has never faced the Rockies.