Rockies Return to Cleveland in Reunion with Indians
Bob Toth | On 08, Aug 2017
The long run atop the National League West this season may have ended a month and a half ago, but the Colorado Rockies remain one of the top teams in baseball this season. After some trade deadline upgrades, they head to Cleveland for the first time since 2014 as the Indians prepare for their second interleague set with Colorado this season. The Tribe will look to keep a four-game home winning streak against the Rockies alive.
The Indians (59-50) are coming off of a series split with the New York Yankees, winning the first two of the set before dropping decisions on Saturday and Sunday. The team has played much better at home in the second half, rattling off nine straight wins before the two losses over the weekend. They have been evenly matched with the Rockies over the years in their limited encounters, with Cleveland winning 11 times and Colorado winning 12. Home field has been the difference maker the majority of the time, as the Rockies are 9-2 when hosting, while the Indians are 9-3 when welcoming Colorado to Progressive Field. The Indians will need to drastically improve upon their 5-13 (.278) record in interleague play, the second-worst mark in the American League this season, if they hope to defeat the Rockies.
The Rockies (64-48) have plenty to play for this season, despite being in a much different situation in the standings than when they faced the Indians back in June. After losing the series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, the Rockies fell 15.5 games in back of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have run away with the division in a hurry with an incredible stretch of play. The Rockies are holding onto hopes that they can fend off the opposition in the NL Wild Card race, as they own the top spot with a half-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks for the second spot. Colorado has played strong at home, posting a 35-21 record there, but is just two games over at 29-27 on the road this season.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Marquez, a 22-year-old right-hander out of Venezuela, has worked in the Rockies rotation since April 25 of this season. He has been on a tear, winning his last four decisions for his second four-game winning streak of the year. Six of his last eight starts have been quality outings and just two starts ago, he struck out a career-high ten batters while not walking any. The second-year pitcher has been better at home than on the road, boasting a 6-2 record with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP at Coors Field and a 4-3 record with a 4.72 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP away from it.
Kluber’s last start put him in rare company. It gave him a dozen consecutive starts (beginning with his first start off of the disabled list) with at least eight strikeouts, making him just one of four pitchers in Major League history to accomplish the feat. Since that first start to open June, he has gone 6-1 with 131 strikeouts in just 86 1/3 innings while holding opposing hitters to a .172 average. He allowed just one run on three hits with a walk and eleven strikeouts in a complete game victory over the New York Yankees on Thursday. He has faced the Rockies once in his career, allowing two runs on five hits with 12 strikeouts over seven and one-third innings back in 2014.
The rookie righty Senzatela, also 22 and from Venezuela, made 15 starts to open the season while working in the Rockies rotation, but settled back into a mixed role over the course of his last seven appearances while also spending time back at Triple-A. He had struggled in the rotation after his quality start against the Indians on June 6, giving up four runs in four innings to the Cubs, five runs in six innings in a win over the Giants, and nine runs in five innings in a loss to the Diamondbacks. He has made two starts and five relief appearances since, struggling some, but will make his first start since July 24 in his first career game at Progressive Field.
Bauer was good for his third straight win in containing the Yankees in his start on Friday. He allowed seven hits and a pair of walks, but gave up just one run (on a solo homer) over seven quality innings. He has surrendered just two runs total over his last two starts, a span of 15 innings, while striking out 13 batters. He faced the Rockies earlier this season in a start that did not go as well as his recent efforts. He allowed four runs on five hits, walked five, and struck out three in three and one-third innings in a loss.
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Radio (both) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM (Denver)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NEWS
Cody Anderson (SP) – out for season – right elbow surgery
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – 10-day disabled list (7/9) – right calf strain
Erik Gonzalez (UTL) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (8/6)
Jason Kipnis (2B) – activated from 10-day disabled list (8/6)
Boone Logan (RP) – 60-day disabled list (7/20) – left lat muscle
Andrew Miller (RP) – 10-day disabled list (8/2) – right knee patellar tendinitis
Josh Tomlin (SP) – 10-day disabled list (7/31) – left hamstring
Tyler Anderson (SP) – 60-day disabled list (6/26) – recovery from July 2017 knee surgery
Shane Carle (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque (8/6)
Ian Desmond (1B) – 10-day disabled list (7/26) – right calf strain
Kyle Freeland (SP) – 10-day disabled list (8/5) – left groin strain
DJ LeMahieu (2B) – day-to-day – triceps soreness after hit by pitch (8/5)
Jake McGee (RP) – activated from 10-day disabled list (8/6)
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
Major League Baseball mourned a pair of deaths of memorable former players and managers this past weekend. One had significant ties to the Rockies organization as Don Baylor, a 19-year big leaguer and the first manager of the Colorado Rockies when they entered the league via expansion in 1993, passed away at the age of 68.
ROLLING WITH THE ROCKIES
American League fans have missed out on some big seasons by members of the Rockies.
Charlie Blackmon was an All-Star for Colorado and for good cause. He enters the day Tuesday hitting .331 for the season in 110 games. He has been an extra base machine, hitting 24 doubles, 13 triples, and 25 homers while driving in 72 runs, third-best on the team while working primarily out of the leadoff spot. His 150 hits on the year are tops in the National League and trail Jose Altuve by four for the most in baseball. He has not slowed down any since the All-Star break, hitting .395 with seven doubles, three triples, five homers, and eleven RBI in 21 games.
Nolan Arenado is an MVP contender as well and rightfully so. Another All-Star, he comes into the day hitting .317 with 34 doubles (second in all of baseball), six triples, and 25 homers while leading MLB with 98 RBI in his 109 games. In 20 games since the All-Star break, he has hit .386 with six doubles, a triple, eight home runs, and 28 RBI (second-most in the game).
Former member of the Tribe Mark Reynolds has quietly had a monstrous year for the Rockies, hitting .282 with 23 homers and 74 RBI.
LeMahieu has had a solid follow-up season to his .348 average for Colorado last year, hitting .319 through his first 105 games. He has hit .375 with a .461 on-base percentage since the Midsummer Classic. He may be limited in the series after experiencing triceps pain after being hit by a pitch several days ago.
Gerardo Parra is second in the National League in second-half hitting with a .414 average. He has eight doubles, a pair of homers, and 18 RBI in 19 games since the break.
SINCE THE LAST TIME WE MET
As noted earlier, some things have changed for the Rockies since they last met up with the Indians and namely, it has been some upgrades to the roster while attempting to survive what has been a never-ending slew of injuries.
Top starting pitcher Jon Gray rejoined the rotation at the end of June after missing ten weeks of action on the disabled list. The third overall pick in the 2013 draft has gone 4-2 since returning and appears to be getting progressively better.
In advance of the trade deadline, Colorado acquired All-Star reliever Pat Neshek from the Philadelphia Phillies for three prospects, giving the club a good back end of the bullpen, when all the pieces are healthy. Adam Ottavino has missed time with injury and Greg Holland has missed some action on the paternity list and after a negative encounter with a kitchen knife. McGee was just activated after missing a week and a half due to a mid-back strain.
On July 30, the Rockies picked up catcher Jonathan Lucroy from Texas for a player to be named later. It marked the second straight season that Lucroy has been on the move before the non-waivers trade period ended. Forever linked to the Indians because he blocked a proposed trade to Cleveland last year at the deadline, he would instead be dealt by Milwaukee to Texas.
INDIANS BY THE NUMBERS
Francisco Lindor‘s third 10+ game hitting streak of the season came to an end in the series with the Yankees, but it should take nothing away from what has been a strong second half performance from the Tribe’s All-Star shortstop. He has been one of the top hitters in the second half, batting .345 with a .406 on-base percentage in 22 games with five doubles, four homers, and eight RBI.
Jose Ramirez is tied with Arenado for second in all of baseball with 34 doubles; he holds the top spot over Altuve by one. Ramirez has hit .317 this season, third in the league among qualified players, but well off of the pace of Altuve’s .364 average. Next in his sights is Altuve’s teammate Carlos Correa, who is hitting .320 entering the day Tuesday.
The Indians have a pair of players in the American League’s top ten in walks for the season. Edwin Encarnacion is second to Aaron Judge with 67 walks this season. Carlos Santana is tied for sixth in the league with 59. Santana is one of the top homer men in the league since the break, supplying six bombs while hitting .267. Encarnacion has drawn 15 walks to go with his 16 hits since the All-Star Game, hitting just .213 but adding a .341 on-base percentage.
For the anti-bunters out there, the Indians are second in the AL in sacrifice bunts this season with 20, including a league-high five since the break.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The Indians will head to Tampa after the game on Wednesday to start a three-city, eleven-game road trip with a four-game set against the Rays. The Rockies will take Thursday off before resuming their brief road trip with three games in Miami with the Marlins.
Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images