Once an afterthought in the NL West, the Colorado Rockies have turned around their season and pulled into contention. Momentum in the playoff race may have shifted again, however, in Colorado’s last meeting with the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers look to build on a key victory and continue their season-long success against the Rockies as the clubs finish a three-game series Thursday at Coors Field.
Colorado (72-55) was 12 games under .500 on June 3, but has gone a major league-best 52-23 since then to put pressure on Los Angeles. The Rockies’ hot streak includes a 5-4, 10-inning win in the opener of this series.
That disheartening defeat dropped the Dodgers (75-52) to 12-17 since July 26, but the division leaders rebounded with a 6-1 victory over the Rockies on Wednesday night. They pulled three games ahead in the division by improving to 11-3 in the season series.
Though the victory was significant in the standings, Dodgers manager Joe Torre claims that’s not how he’s evaluating his club.
“I’m not really concerned about (the Rockies),” Torre said. “I have a great deal of respect for them, but it’s all about how we play. If we’re in the last week of the season, last 10 days of the season, yes, you worry about that team. But right now we’ve got to get into a mode of playing more consistently and winning more games.
“That’s my concern more so than who’s running us down.”
Regardless of whether Torre is worried about the Rockies, Colorado manager Jim Tracy believes his team poses a threat. It’s gone 4-2 with two extra-innings wins on a crucial homestand against Los Angeles and San Francisco - the club directly behind Colorado in the wild-card race.
“We’ve already shown that (we can compete) over the course of this entire homestand, with the magnitude of the games and what was at stake in those situations,” Tracy told the Rockies’ official Web site. “They’re embracing it. They’re relishing it. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.”
Colorado will aim for its first series win over Los Angeles of the season by handing the ball to Jorge De La Rosa(notes) (12-8, 4.76 ERA) on Thursday. The left-hander is 10-1 with a 3.55 ERA over his last 11 starts. He gave up six runs in six innings against San Francisco on Saturday, but still got credit for the 14-11 victory.
De La Rosa hasn’t gotten any such breaks against the Dodgers. He’s 0-4 with a 7.99 ERA in five career starts against them, including 0-1 with a 7.27 ERA in two this season - both Rockies losses.
Los Angeles first baseman James Loney(notes) is 7 for 11 with a home run and a double against De La Rosa, and outfielder Matt Kemp(notes) is 6 for 13 with a homer and two doubles off the Colorado southpaw.
The Dodgers will counter with Vicente Padilla(notes), who signed a minor league contract last Wednesday after getting released by Texas. The right-hander was 8-6 with a 4.92 ERA in 18 starts with the Rangers.
Padilla is 1-1 with a 4.24 ERA in three career starts against Colorado, which he hasn’t faced since June 25, 2006.
This is the last meeting between Los Angeles and Colorado before the teams’ regular season-ending three-game series at Dodger Stadium from Oct. 2-4.