The Rockies are returning to Colorado after completing a road trip that encompassed a wide range of emotions.
Set to play at Coors Field for the first time since the death of team president Keli McGregor, the Rockies open a three-game series against the Florida Marlins on Friday night.
Colorado’s road trip got off to an unforgettable start with Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) throwing the first no-hitter in the franchise’s 18-year history in Atlanta on Saturday. The elated feeling took a sudden turn, though, as the 48-year-old McGregor was found dead in his hotel room in Salt Lake City on Tuesday morning.
The popular McGregor, who grew up in Colorado, played football at Colorado State and was drafted by the Denver Broncos, had been with the Rockies (8-8) since 1993. The team will have a memorial service for him at Coors Field before Sunday’s finale.
“(McGregor) wore No. 88 in college, we scored eight runs in the third inning on Tuesday, and we’re going home with an 8-8 record,” manager Jim Tracy said after Thursday’s 2-0 win over Washington.
“We’ve experienced euphoria,” Tracy said, referring to Jimenez’s no-hitter, “and we’ve absolutely been hit in the gut as hard as we possibly could have been punched.”
Jimenez pitched another gem Thursday, limiting the Nationals to five hits in 7 1-3 innings, helping the Rockies win for the third time on the seven-game trip. Colorado finished with four hits Thursday, but two of them were homers from Ian Stewart(notes) and Miguel Olivo(notes).
After struggling against two of the NL’s worst teams - New York and Cincinnati - Nolasco managed to shut down one of baseball’s top offenses Saturday. At Philadelphia’s hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, the right-hander was one out away from his second career shutout when Jayson Werth(notes) hit a solo homer. Nolasco ended up allowing five hits and three walks with four strikeouts in a complete-game 5-1 victory.
Nolasco has also had no trouble holding the Rockies in check, posting a 2.45 ERA in winning all three career starts against them. He’s struck out 25 and walked two over 22 innings in those outings.
The Marlins (9-7) arrive in Colorado after defeating Houston 5-1 on Thursday to avoid a three-game sweep. Cody Ross(notes) drove in two runs and Jorge Cantu(notes) singled to extend his hitting streak to 20 games.
“I’m just going to continue to ride this wave and see how long it takes me,” said Cantu, who is hitting .316 during his run.
Cantu is 7 for 18 (.389) with a homer and four RBIs in six career games at Coors Field, while Hanley Ramirez(notes) has hit safely in all 13 career games there, batting .417 with three home runs, eight RBIs and 15 runs.
Florida went 4-2 against Colorado in 2009, with Ramirez hitting .577 with two homers, three doubles and nine runs.
Smith limited Atlanta to two runs and five hits Sunday, but matched a career high with seven walks to run his pitch count up to 108 and was pulled after 5 1-3 innings. The left-hander was still in position for the win when he departed, but the Braves rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth, handing the Rockies a 4-3 loss.