The San Francisco Giants were well out of the NL West race when they stumbled out of Denver last month. Improved play against divisional foes has the NL wild card-leading Giants in a much better position to begin this two-game series at Coors Field.
San Francisco continues its push for the division lead Tuesday when it faces the Colorado Rockies.
After dropping three of four in Denver from July 1-4, the Giants (61-45) were 7 1/2 games behind division-leading San Diego and 9-20 versus the NL West.
San Francisco, though, has made up substantial ground. The Giants, who have gone 9-1 against NL West opponents and won 20 of 25 overall, capped their first Bay Area sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers in six years with a 2-0 victory Sunday.
“We’ll be talking about this quite a bit … but if we’re going to get this accomplished we need to play better against our division,” said manager Bruce Bochy.
The Giants, winners of 12 of 14 on the road since last month’s series at Colorado, open their six-game trip with Jonathan Sanchez(notes) (7-6, 3.54 ERA) on the mound. Looking for his first victory since July 5, the left-hander is trying to rebound from one of his worst outings of the season. Sanchez went six innings, yielding a season high-tying five runs and seven hits in Wednesday’s 10-9, 10-inning victory over Florida.
He faces a Rockies team batting .381 and averaging 10.0 runs during its four-game winning streak. Colorado (55-50) hit .222 and scored 17 total runs while losing its previous eight.
“This was a big series for us because after the horrible week or two, it’s just a really good feeling to come back and win this series,” outfielder Carlos Gonzalez(notes) told the team’s official website Sunday after Colorado completed a series sweep with an 8-7 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
The Rockies, however, lost center fielder Dexter Fowler(notes) in the ninth inning when he crashed into the wall after catching a sacrifice fly. He was carted off the field and initially diagnosed with a left rib and hip contusion. Fowler, who is 10 for 20 during the winning streak, went 10 for 16 with seven runs and four triples in last month’s series versus San Francisco.
“I don’t anticipate any problems whatsoever moving forward to Tuesday,” manager Jim Tracy said.
Cook, though, has been running into plenty of problems, going 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in his last two starts. The right-hander surrendered five runs and six hits over a season-low 2 1-3 innings of Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to Pittsburgh. It was his shortest outing of the season and first loss at Coors Field since Aug. 21.
“I gave them too many pitches to hit,” said Cook, 1-1 with a 5.84 ERA in two starts against San Francisco this season.
Colorado has won eight of 10 at home against San Francisco, which is looking to win its fifth straight road series.