Much closer to last place than first, the Colorado Rockies have an enormous amount of work to do if they plan on making a late-season run in the NL West.
Facing the Cincinnati Reds six more times in the next month shouldn’t hurt.
The Rockies look for a 16th win in 18 games with the Reds when they continue this four-game set Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.
Heading out for a seven-game road trip, Colorado (54-62) trailed West-leading San Francisco by 10 games - the same deficit it faced before beginning a seven-game homestand last week - and was just two ahead of last-place San Diego.
It got a bit closer to both the Giants and second-place Arizona on Monday, tying a season high with four homers in a 10-7 win over the Reds (55-60) while both San Francisco and the Diamondbacks lost.
“I don’t really know where we are with that,” Smith said. “Hopefully tonight gets me back in (the lineup).”
There’s no reason Troy Tulowitzki(notes) should be out of the lineup anytime soon against Cincinnati after he had two more hits Monday. The Rockies have won 11 straight against the Reds with Tulowitzki in the lineup, as the two-time All-Star has hit .357 in that stretch with nine of his 15 hits going for extra-bases.
In all, Colorado has won six in a row over the Reds and have outscored them 87-59 while winning 15 of 17 games in the series since Aug. 23, 2008. The teams also play three games Sept. 9-11 in Colorado.
Willis has delivered a quality start in four of his first five outings but hasn’t been able to catch a break. The left-hander left with a 3-2 lead Thursday at Houston after allowing two runs over six innings, but the Reds’ bullpen couldn’t hold it in a 5-4 loss.
“It was a team effort to get me out of the jams and keep us in the ball game,” Willis said. “That’s what they have been doing the whole time since I’ve been up. … I have to do a better job for them of shutting the opposition down.”
The right-hander gave up three runs in an inning July 25 in his first big-league appearance in nearly three months, but tossed five one-hit innings of relief in a 10-6 win July 30 at San Diego.
It was the trade of Ubaldo Jimenez(notes), though, that allowed Rogers to start Thursday against Washington. After giving up a run in a 29-pitch first inning, he didn’t allow any more over the next 4 2-3 in a 6-3 victory.
“It opened an opportunity for me right now,” Rogers told the Rockies’ official website. “It’s really sad that (Jimenez) left. He’s a really good person. He helped me a lot. But he got traded, and that’s my opportunity to show the Rockies I want to be here.”
Rogers has allowed one run in three relief innings against Cincinnati.