Troy Tulowitzki(notes) came into the Colorado Rockies’ series against the Pittsburgh Pirates with an impressive average since returning from the disabled list, but it’s harder to find a hotter hitter than Carlos Gonzalez(notes).
The Rockies’ two best hitters look to build on their respective three-hit performances and help Colorado earn its seventh win in nine games Saturday night at PNC Park.
With Tulowitzki - who missed six weeks due to a fractured left wrist - back for the past 10 games, Colorado (57-52) is clicking again at the plate. The Rockies have hit .330 with 11 homers while winning six of eight to stay within striking distance in the NL wild-card race.
Tulowitzki is hitting .400 with 10 RBIs since his return, while Gonzalez seems to keep matching the feats of his All-Star teammate. Each had three hits in Friday’s 6-3 win over the Pirates (38-71), with Gonzalez homering early and Tulowitzki driving in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning to snap the Rockies’ seven-game road skid.
Gonzalez is batting .439 with seven homers since Tulowitzki - a .488 hitter in 11 games at PNC Park - returned to the cleanup spot.
“He wasn’t an All-Star, and that’s a shame, isn’t it?” manager Jim Tracy said of Gonzalez, batting .316 on the season with 23 homers and 72 RBIs. “As we continue to see what’s unfolded since post-All-Star break. But you know something, the numbers strongly suggest (MVP) consideration.”
Pittsburgh’s Ross Ohlendorf(notes) (1-9, 4.41 ERA) won’t be eager to face either hitter, and may be happy to merely get through a start without incident. Ohlendorf lasted two-thirds of an inning July 28 at Colorado, leaving after taking a Tulowitzki line drive to the head.
He nearly had to leave in the first inning again Monday against Cincinnati after a shot up the middle hit the right-hander in the right leg. He stayed in the game, but allowed three runs over five innings of a 4-0 loss.
“I thought it was funny more than anything else. That’s two games in a row,” Ohlendorf said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen the next time. At least it saved a hit.”
Tulowitzki is 3 for 7 with two homers and Gonzalez 2 for 6 with one homer off Ohlendorf, who’s 1-1 with a 6.94 ERA in three career starts against Colorado.
The Rockies will counter with Jorge De La Rosa(notes) (4-3, 5.01). The left-hander, who spent 2 1/2 months recovering from a torn tendon in his middle finger, earned his first win in five starts since returning by allowing three runs over 6 2-3 innings of Sunday’s 8-7 victory over the Cubs.
“He got set back a little bit with the finger and the first couple (starts) coming back off the injury weren’t real good,” Tracy told the Rockies’ official website. “But he has rectified himself and resembles an awful lot the guy we had predominantly the entire season last year.”
De La Rosa allowed three runs over seven innings of a 4-2 loss to the Pirates in Denver on July 27, falling to 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA in four starts in this series since 2008.