Although he’s pitching well, Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) is winless in five starts since earning his 17th victory. A big finish over the next few weeks by the Colorado Rockies ace, though, could make that all but forgotten and help his club in another unlikely late playoff push.
He’ll try again to become the first NL pitcher to 18 victories when the surging Rockies begin a four-game home set against the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds on Monday.
Colorado (72-64) swept a three-game road series from NL West leader San Diego over the weekend, pulling to within 4 1/2 games of the Padres and bringing back memories of their run to the World Series three years ago.
“We have a really good opportunity to win the division,” Gonzalez said. “We just have to keep playing good baseball.”
It would help if Jimenez (17-6, 2.69 ERA) can get back on the winning track - and if the Rockies can start scoring for him. The right-hander has gone 0-4 despite a 3.00 ERA over his last five starts, with Colorado supporting him with one or no runs four times.
“Things one day are going to go your way and then the other time it’s going to be the other way,” Jimenez said. “You never know when it’s going to change. The only thing I can do is just try to keep going hard and giving my team a chance.”
Jimenez is 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA in four career starts against the Reds, though he’s allowed four hits in 10 at-bats to NL MVP candidate Joey Votto(notes). The Rockies have won 10 of Jimenez’s 12 home starts.
There’s less of a sense of urgency in this series for Cincinnati (79-57), which lost two of three at St. Louis over the weekend. The Reds lead the second-place Cardinals by seven games.
“You like where we stand,” center fielder Drew Stubbs(notes) told the Reds’ official website. “The way we’ve played as of late, even though we came in and lost two of three, I think we’re in a good position. Everybody is feeling good about themselves.”
Cincinnati has dropped six straight at Coors Field, where Votto is 10 for 25 in his career. He leads the league with 98 RBIs and is tied for third in homers with 32, while his .321 average is second to Gonzalez’s .337.
Colorado, winner of 12 of 16 at Coors, returns home after a huge weekend. Gonzalez went 7 for 13 and Troy Tulowitzki(notes) 4 for 12 with four RBIs for the Rockies, who have not been this close to first place since July 23.
“I think it goes without saying, this was a tremendous series for us,” manager Jim Tracy said. “It has brightened the picture considerably over the course of the last three days.”
Cincinnati’s Aaron Harang(notes) (6-7, 4.92) will make his second start after a two-month absence due to back problems. The veteran right-hander gave up three runs over four innings in an 8-4 win over Milwaukee on Tuesday in his first start since June 30.
Harang is 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA in six career starts against Colorado, including 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in three at Coors Field.