Last year, the Colorado Rockies could cite Ethier as a reason for several defeats.
While Ethier tries to hurt Colorado again, the Dodgers will hope to use the momentum from the red-hot outfielder’s walk-off grand slam as they open the season series with the visiting Rockies on Friday night.
Los Angeles (12-16) has encountered numerous problems during the club’s unsatisfying start, but Ethier has certainly been pulling his weight, leading the NL in batting average (.371) and RBIs (30).
He’s tied for the NL lead in home runs with Arizona’s Kelly Johnson(notes), hitting his 10th in dramatic fashion Thursday night. Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton(notes) blew a save and Los Angeles was in danger of being swept by Milwaukee, but Ethier homered with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to give his team a 7-3 victory.
“I don’t know what it is, but for some reason, I just keep getting up in that situation with an opportunity to do it,” said Ethier, who has eight game-ending hits since the start of last year. “I can’t figure it out. It definitely makes things a lot easier when there’s a guy standing at third and one out.”
In the Dodgers’ last four wins, Ethier has five home runs and 13 RBIs.
Colorado is plenty familiar with his clutch play. While helping Los Angeles go 14-4 against the Rockies in 2009, Ethier hit .349 with five homers and 18 RBIs, including a walk-off homer in the 13th inning of a 4-2 win June 29.
Colorado (14-14) still managed to reach the playoffs as the wild card, but the Rockies have been slowed by injuries during their mediocre start to 2010.
Closer Huston Street(notes) and outfielder Brad Hawpe(notes) remain on the disabled list, and with starters Jason Hammel(notes) and Jorge De La Rosa(notes) joining them, the Rockies will have rookies on the mound in the first two games of this series.
Esmil Rogers(notes) (0-1, 5.63 ERA) will take his turn Friday, looking to bounce back from a difficult outing. In his second major league start and first of 2010, the right-hander allowed five runs - four earned - in four innings of a 6-1 loss at San Francisco on Saturday, struggling with his control while walking four.
“When you’re pitching in the big leagues, you have to have fastball command,” Rogers told the Rockies’ official website. “If you don’t have it, you don’t have a great game. That’s that.”
Los Angeles will feel more secure about its starter with Hiroki Kuroda(notes) (3-1, 2.08) taking the ball. The right-hander leads Dodgers starters in wins and ERA and is coming off a brilliant outing against Pittsburgh on Sunday, when he allowed one run in eight innings of a 9-3 win.
Kuroda has not been as good against Colorado, going 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in three career starts.
The Rockies’ offense has averaged 3.3 runs in the first six games of their current road trip, but the team has still won three of its last four, including Wednesday’s 6-5, 12-inning win at San Diego. Ian Stewart’s(notes) fifth home run provided the winning margin.