The Washington Nationals (6-6) continue their home stand with four games against the Colorado Rockies (6-6). The Nationals are coming off a three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers in which they took the first two before dropping the final game. The first game featured a three-run eighth inning that fueled a 5-3 win, while Saturday's 8-0 victory featured Livan Hernandez's four-hit shutout.
Unfortunately, the series ended with an 11-7 loss. The Nationals offense fought furiously to come back; however, Milwaukee's ten-run first inning (in which Nationals' starter Jason Marquis failed to record an out against the seven batters he faced) was too great a deficit to overcome. That said, the team should be happy with its .500 start and look to build on its series win.
The Rockies on the other hand enter this series coming off a season that saw them return to the playoffs in 2009. Like the Nationals, the Rockies had a terrible start to last season (19-28) that led to the firing of then manager Clint Hurdle. Under new skipper Jim Tracy the Rockies rallied to make the playoffs with a 92-70 record. The Rockies are out to prove this season that with their influx of young talent and their core of veteran leadership, they can be a force in the west for years to come.
ROCKIES LAST SERIES
The Colorado Rockies come to Washington after dropping two of three to the Atlanta Braves. After losing the first game when Atlanta's seven-run second proved insurmountable, the story of the series was Ubaldo Jimenez's game two no-hitter. Aided by a spectacular defensive play by Dexter Fowler, Jimenez walked six and struck out seven on 128 pitches in the first no-hitter in Colorado franchise history. The team was unable to build on the momentum, however, losing the third and final game on a two-run, walk-off single by rookie sensation Jason Heyward.
Brad Hawpe: 4-7, 2B, RBI
Ubaldo Jimenez: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 7 K
Dexter Fowler: 1-12
Monday, Apr. 19: Aaron Cook (0-1, 5.56) vs. Craig Stammen (0-0, 15.63)
Tuesday, Apr. 20: Jorge De La Rosa (1-1, 2.77) vs. Scott Olsen (0-0, 6.35)
Wednesday, Apr. 21: Jason Hammel (0-1, 11.42) vs. John Lannan (1-1, 5.74)
Thursday, Apr. 22: TBA vs. Livan Hernandez (2-0, 0.00)
CAN NATS' STARTERS REVERSE EARLY SEASON WOES?
Outside of Hernandez, the Nationals' three projected starters in this series all sport ERAs above 5.00, and the team ERA is second-to-last in the majors. Unfortunately, this trio of Stammen, Olsen, and Lannan does not even include Marquis, who is currently 0-3 with a 20.52 ERA. The Rockies' offense, while not pedestrian, is not the juggernaut that is the Philadelphia Phillies. Hopefully Colorado, who ranks 11th, 12th, and 15th in the majors in home runs, batting average, and runs, respectively, will provide a welcome respite for the battered Nationals' rotation.
CAN THE ROCKIES STAFF CONTINUE THE POWER OUTAGE?
The Nationals, with Ryan Zimmerman ailing and Adam Dunn struggling, rank in the bottom five of all teams in home runs. Despite Zimmerman's return, the Rockies' should be able to continue to limit the home team's dingers. Colorado has allowed the fewest home runs in the majors (seven) despite playing half its games at notoriously hitter-friendly Coors Field. In coming to Washington, a neutral to pitcher-friendly park, it would seem that the Rockies' staff would have the advantage. Perhaps this series will do much to suggest whether or not the Rockies' opponents' low home run totals are a trend or an anomaly.