The Giants look to bounce back Tuesday night against a less imposing Colorado starter in Jason Hammel(notes), but the visiting Rockies can pass San Francisco in the standings with another win as the NL West rivals continue their three-game set.
After struggling to score throughout much of their mediocre May, the Giants (27-23) had totaled 28 runs while winning four straight entering Monday’s series opener against Colorado (27-24).
They were limited to four hits by Jimenez, who improved to 10-1 with a 0.78 ERA by pitching a complete game and beating two-time reigning NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum(notes) in Colorado’s 4-0 victory.
Hammel (2-3, 6.93 ERA) will have the unenviable task of attempting to equal that performance, but he followed two of Jimenez’s previous three wins with victories of his own.
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 4.74 ERA in three starts since a stint on the disabled list due to a groin injury.
“I’m gradually getting better,” Hammel told the Rockies’ official website after working 5 1-3 innings in an 8-2 win over Arizona on Thursday.
Hammel posted a 3.52 ERA in four starts against the Giants as a rookie last year, although he went 0-2 in those outings.
He pitched six innings in a 1-0, 10-inning loss at San Francisco on May 3, 2009, but was outlasted by Giants left-hander Barry Zito(notes) (6-2, 2.94), who has long excelled against Colorado and will oppose Hammel again Tuesday.
Zito’s 2.00 career ERA against the Rockies is his best against any opponent, and he has a 1.24 ERA against them in five outings since the start of last year. He beat Colorado for the third straight time - all at home - with eight strong innings in a 5-2 win April 30.
“He’s always tough against us. I can’t hit him,” said Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki(notes), who is 5 for 33 (.152) against Zito. “I’ve never been able to hit him. Hopefully one day I’ll figure him out.”
Zito has a 5.40 ERA in his last four outings after going 5-0 with a 1.49 ERA in his first six starts.
He allowed six runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-1 loss at Oakland on May 21, then struggled through 6 1-3 innings Thursday against Washington, walking five and giving up seven hits and four runs - three earned. The Giants still won that game 5-4, but Zito didn’t get the decision.
The Rockies will be looking for their third straight win at AT&T Park, where they went 2-7 last year. Colorado dropped two of three there April 30-May 2, but a win Tuesday would make the Rockies the second visitor out of 10 to take a series at San Francisco.
The Giants hope Pablo Sandoval(notes) can stay hot and help them avoid that fate. Despite the club’s quiet bats against Jimenez, Sandoval went 3 for 4 to improve to 8 for 17 with a home run and five RBIs in the final four games of May. The third baseman hit .191 with no homers in the month’s first 23 contests.