Tonight, the Rockies and Giants will meet for the first time this season. Arguably, the division rivals have never played a more meaningful April series. The Rockies are off to a red hot start and carry the best record in baseball. They have a chip on their shoulders over last year’s disappointment. It was painful to watch the Giants — a team they actually led late in the season — win it all. The Rockies are convinced that they are the better team and are determined to prove it. It starts tonight.
San Fran isn’t off to their best start. They’ve struggled in a variety of facets, but they’ve still managed to win games. Despite a winning record, the Giants already sit four games back of the Rockies, and, even though it is still April, they can’t afford to get swept and fall to seven back. Barring injury, the Rockies are going to be a very tough team to gain seven games against.
Quite frankly, I’d like to see the Giants go away. Hats off to them for winning the World Series, but it’s not happening two years in a row. Also, I wouldn’t mind if Brian Wilson came up with a new schtick. The beard is a bit of a dead horse. Hopefully, Coors Field will remove some its “magic”.
Get those baseballs properly humidified and prepare for battle, boys. It’s time to show the defending World Champions who’s boss in 2011.
2011 Record: 8-7, 2nd in NL West. (4 GB)
2011 Record: 12-3, 1st in NL West
April 18: Tim Lincecum vs. Esmil Rogers. 6:40 PM MT
Lincecum has made eight career starts at Coors Field, going 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 49 innings pitched — very respectable numbers for Coors. Facing Tiny Tim is never an easy task, but the Rockies usually fare better than most. Over the course of his career, Timmy has a .583 winning percentage against the Rockies, almost 100 points lower than his career winning percentage.
Todd Helton — 28 ABs, .357 AVG., 1 HR, 3 RBIs
Chris Iannetta — 12 ABs, .500 AVG., 1 HR, 4 RBIs
Ian Stewart — 27 ABs, .185 AVG., 1 RBI
Dexter Fowler — 14 ABs, .143 AVG.
Esmil’s first start of the season was a seven inning domination of the Pirates. In an impressive display, he retired eighteen straight at one point. He wasn’t as sharp in start number two, but he still managed to pick up the win against the hapless Mets. Rogers’ career Coors Field ERA is almost two points higher than his road ERA. However, he is a much different pitcher so far this year. Hopefully it will carry over into his first home start.
Freddy Sanchez — 5 ABs, .400 AVG.
Aubrey Huff — 6 ABs, .333 AVG.
Pablo Sandoval — 4 ABs, .000 AVG.
Pat Burrell — 3 ABs, .000 AVG.
April 19: Jonathan Sanchez vs. Ubaldo Jimenez. 6:40 PM MT
Last year, Sanchez led the NL in walks, but also surrendered the fewest hits per nine innings. This year, he striking out hitters a prolific rate — 13 per nine innings. Like Crash Davis once said, strikeouts are fascist. They also require more pitches. That’s the key to beating Sanchez. The Rockies need to make him work. They will strikeout some, but as long as they work deep into the count and draw some walks, they will be fine.
Tulo — 17 ABs, .412 AVG, 1 HR, 5 RBIs
Todd Helton — 25 ABs, .280 AVG.
Carlos Gonzalez — 11 ABs, .000 AVG.
Ian Stewart — 4 ABs, .000 AVG.
We haven’t seen Ubaldo since Opening Day, but, reportedly, his cuticle has healed nicely and he was hitting 97 MPH in his rehab start. As long as his velocity is back, Ubaldo will be his old self. He has a 3.13 career ERA against the Giants.
Pablo Sandoval — 31 ABs, .323 AVG., 1 HR, 2 RBI
Freddy Sanchez — 24 ABs, .292 AVG., 2 RBIs
Aubrey Huff — 12 ABs, .167 AVG.
Pat Burrell — 7 ABs, .143 AVG.
April 20: Matt Cain vs. Jorge De La Rosa. 1:10 PM MT
While not as heralded as Lincecum, Cain is still one of the NL’s best pitchers. He is a rock, throwing well over 200 innings in each of the last four seasons. He is off to a great start, going 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his first three outings.
Tulo — 46 ABs, .305 AVG., 3 HRs, 5 RBIs
Ryan Spilborghs — 21 ABs, .333 AVG., 2 HRs, 4 RBIs
Todd Helton — 41 ABs, .195 AVG., 1 HR, 2 RBI
Carlos Gonzalez — 21 ABs, .143 AVG., 1 RBI
Last time out, Jorge De La Rosa was able to get past his blister issues. He went into the seventh inning and threw well over 100 pitches. However, Jorge didn’t have his best stuff and struggled throughout the start. He gave up four runs and walked four hitters. The Rockies paid DLR big money this off-season and expect him to eat up some innings. He has to become more efficient.
Freddy Sanchez — 20 ABs, .450 AVG., 2 HRs, 6 RBIs
Miguel Tejada — 12 ABs, .500 AVG., 1 HR, 2 RBI
Pablo Sandoval — 20 ABs, .200 AVG., 1 RBI
Aaron Rowand — 21 ABs, .143 AVG., 1 RBI