Major league-leading Philadelphia opens a three-game set against Colorado, which returns home Monday night following a nine-game trip with a major void in its starting rotation.
The Phillies (68-39), who sit six games ahead of Atlanta in the NL East, became even stronger on Friday, when they acquired Pence from Houston in exchange for four prospects.
Despite going 2 for 9 in his first two games with the club, the two-time All-Star has already made a profound impact. Pence doubled and scored the game-winning run on Raul Ibanez’s(notes) walk-off double in the 10th inning Sunday as Philadelphia completed a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh with a 6-5 victory.
“It’s electric. Everyone has a different charisma about them where you expect it to happen,” said Pence. “Any of these guys can carry you for a day. That’s the beauty of it.”
The Phillies acquired Pence in hopes of improving their chances of winning a fifth straight division title. The Rockies agreeing to send Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) to Cleveland on Saturday, is in contrast, a sign the club is starting to look toward next season.
“This was a very difficult decision for us to make,” general manager Dan O’Dowd said. “Our focus with this deal was to make our team better in the very near future and we feel like we were able to do that in this situation.”
In exchange for Jimenez, Colorado (51-57) received right-handers Alex White(notes) and Joe Gardner, first baseman Matt McBride and a player to be named, likely prized pitching prospect Drew Pomeranz. While their future looks bright, the Rockies’ recently-acquired talent won’t be much help as the team tries to regroup from dropping five of nine on its recently completed trek - including Sunday’s 8-3 loss to San Diego.
With his ace no longer around, manager Jim Tracy is likely hoping Jhoulys Chacin(notes) (8-8, 3.50 ERA) soon regains his early-season form. Since going 8-4 with a 2.71 ERA through June 21, the right-hander is 0-4 with a 5.82 ERA over his last six starts.
Chacin, however, showed signs of getting back on track during Tuesday’s 3-2 road loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, yielding three runs - one earned - and three hits in six innings. He also allowed just one walk after issuing 18 free passes over his five previous outings.
“I threw better (Tuesday) and I was commanding my fastball. That made me happy,” he said. “The only thing you can do is do your job, and whatever happens, happens.”
The Rockies had been outscored 39-21 en route to losing six straight to the Phillies before Chacin surrendered one run and struck out nine in seven innings of a 7-1 victory May 19. Ibanez, who homered twice along with his game-winning hit Sunday, is 4 for 7 off Chacin.
The Phillies counter with Cole Hamels(notes) (12-6, 2.61), who has allowed two runs or fewer in all but one of his 12 most recent games. The left-hander, though, has experienced mixed results in two lifetime starts versus Colorado.
In his only outing at Coors Field, Hamels was tagged for seven runs and 11 hits over 3 2-3 innings of a 10-3 loss April 10, 2009. He was much better during a 2-1 win May 18, giving up one run while striking out eight in as many innings.