The San Francisco Giants won the NL West last season en route to their first World Series title, but it already looks like the Colorado Rockies are a serious threat to a second straight division crown.
The red-hot Rockies will test their major league-best record against the Giants when the teams begin a three-game series at Coors Field on Monday night.
While San Francisco (8-7) appears to be back on track after a slow start with four wins in five games, the Giants still trail Colorado (12-3) by four games.
The Rockies rebounded from a rare loss with a 9-5 victory over the Cubs on Sunday, their eighth win in nine contests. Dexter Fowler(notes) ignited a four-run eighth inning with a two-out, two-run double and Carlos Gonzalez(notes), who was given Saturday off while mired in a 3-for-24 slump, had four hits and two RBIs.
“We have a bunch of different weapons and we can hurt you a bunch of different ways,” Fowler said. “I’m just happy it was my turn. And it was important to come off (Saturday’s loss) like we did. It shows the character of the team. We had lost a couple of close games but that was our first real blowout. We bounced back nicely.”
Sunday marked another big offensive performance for the Rockies, who have scored 56 runs during their 8-1 surge and have 51 hits in their past five games.
After giving up one earned run over 14 innings in his first two outings, Lincecum labored against the Dodgers on Tuesday. He allowed three runs and six hits while throwing 115 pitches in 5 1-3 innings before leaving without a decision in a 5-4 win.
The right-hander is 7-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 15 starts against Colorado, splitting four decisions last season. Lincecum was dominant in the final two meetings of 2010, posting a 1.13 ERA while pitching eight innings in each.
The Giants hope to bounce back behind their ace after they had a four-game winning streak snapped with a 6-5, 12-inning loss at Arizona on Sunday.
Monday was expected to mark the return of Colorado ace Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) from the disabled list, but his return to the mound has been pushed back one day and instead Esmil Rogers(notes) (2-0, 2.77) will take the mound.
Though he won for the second time in as many starts, Rogers wasn’t nearly as sharp Wednesday against the Mets as he was in an outstanding season debut. He gave up three runs, seven hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings of a 5-4 win at Citi Field.
The right-hander made two starts and two relief appearances against San Francisco last season, going 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in the starts.
The Rockies and Giants split 18 games last season, with San Francisco winning four of the last five.