Todd Helton(notes) may be sparking the Colorado Rockies to another late-season playoff push. Ted Lilly(notes) may be the perfect foil for the Los Angeles Dodgers to kickstart their own run to the postseason.
Helton tries to continue his torrid hitting for the Rockies while Lilly seeks to win his sixth straight start since joining the Dodgers as the NL West rivals wrap up a three-game set Sunday afternoon at Coors Field.
Long the face of the Rockies franchise, Helton’s .260 average this year is a far cry from his .325 mark in 2009, when the Rockies went 18-10 down the stretch to claim a wild-card spot, or his .320 average in 2007, when they closed the season 14-1 en route to their only NL pennant.
The 37-year-old veteran has rediscovered his hitting stroke recently, though, going 9 for 19 with two homers and five RBIs as Colorado (67-61) has won four of five to move within 4 1/2 games of Philadelphia for the NL wild card. Helton has homered in each game of this series, including a solo shot in Saturday’s 5-3 victory.
Helton has not had much success in his career against Lilly (8-8, 3.27 ERA), going 2 for 11 with one homer.
Then again, few have been successful against the left-hander since the Dodgers (67-63) acquired him from the Chicago Cubs at the July 31 trade deadline. Lilly has gone 5-0 with a 1.34 ERA since the trade and picked up his most recent win Tuesday at Milwaukee despite allowing three runs in 6 1-3 innings.
“I got away with quite a few pitches,” Lilly told the Dodgers’ official website after his 17-inning scoreless streak ended. “I just wasn’t locating. We got some good ‘D’ and I got away with a few and a few of the balls that were hit hard, were right at guys.”
Lilly’s best outing of the year came at home against the Rockies on Aug. 19, when he threw a two-hitter with a season-high 11 strikeouts. He is 4-1 in six lifetime starts versus Colorado, including a 1-1 mark at Coors.
Manny Ramirez(notes), who was awarded to the Chicago White Sox in a waiver claim Friday, made his first appearance in three games Saturday and struck out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. It is still uncertain whether the 12-time All-Star will approve a trade to the White Sox and join them before a 1:30 p.m. EDT deadline Tuesday or choose to remain with the Dodgers.
Probable Rockies starter Jason Hammel(notes) (8-7, 4.35) is 6-1 with a 3.43 ERA at home but has only one win in his last five starts at Coors Field. He did not record a decision Monday against Atlanta after being reached for three runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-4 victory.
The right-hander also failed to receive a decision Aug. 18 at Los Angeles, giving up two runs in six innings of a 3-2, 10-inning Rockies win.