The Colorado Rockies have been one of the best teams in baseball since the beginning of June. That’s due in large part to their domination of the NL Central.
The Rockies go for their 15th straight win over a Central opponent when they host Chicago Cubs on Friday night.
Colorado has 39 wins since June 1, tying it with the Los Angeles Angels for the most in that span. The Rockies’ .661 winning percentage during the stretch is 68 points higher than the next-best NL team, San Francisco.
Colorado lost its first three games after firing Clint Hurdle and replacing him with Jim Tracy on May 29, then went on a 17-1 run. The surge included 11 consecutive victories over NL Central teams.
The Rockies (59-49) swept three games from Cincinnati last weekend to improve to 4-3 on a 10-game road trip, then dropped two of three at Philadelphia to fall a game behind the Giants in the wild card race.
After winning 8-3 in Tuesday night’s opener, Colorado totaled one run and 12 hits in consecutive defeats. They scored the game’s first run Thursday against Cliff Lee(notes), but managed six singles in the final eight innings.
“They pitched very well the last couple games,” Tracy said. “I think we’re better offensively than we’ve shown.”
After the 5-5 trip, Colorado returns to Coors Field, where it is 20-8 since May 29.
The Cubs (57-49) opened a 10-game road swing by dropping two of three to the Phillies, but rebounded to take two of three from the Reds.
The Cubs, though, managed four hits in a 4-0 defeat Wednesday, keeping them in a virtual tie with St. Louis atop the NL Central.
“The best part of tonight is that we have a day off tomorrow,” manager Lou Piniella said. “We didn’t play very well. We had a chance to go into first place by ourselves, and we didn’t take advantage of the opportunity.”
Zambrano, 2-0 with a 3.07 ERA in his last three road starts, departed after three innings at Florida on Saturday night but wasn’t concerned.
“It’s nothing to worry about,” he said. “It’s just a tight back. I’ll just have to treat it and get ready for my next start.”
The right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.12 ERA in three starts at Coors Field - one of two current NL parks in which he hasn’t earned a victory.
Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) (8-9, 3.76) looks to win three straight for the second time this season. The right-hander, 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA in four starts against Chicago, beat Cincinnati 6-2 in his last start Saturday. He gave up two runs over eight innings, striking out eight and walking none.
The Cubs have won 12 of the last 16 meetings with Colorado, but three of the Rockies’ wins in that span came at home.