They may have stopped the bleeding, snapping a season-long five game losing streak on Thursday, but the Phillies aren’t home free yet. The last leg of an awful road trip – one in which they are already guaranteed to do no better than .500 – kicks off tonight at Coors Field in Colorado.
The Phils combined to go 2-5 against the Brewers and Twins, a pair of clubs with worse records. They would have to sweep the Rockies (35-32) just to get a split out of this trip. There are a few things working in their favor however.
For starters, the Rocks have all of a sudden been bit by the injury bug. It was announced today that two-time All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is out for 4-6 weeks with a broken rib. Centerfielder Dexter Fowler is day-to-day after getting hit by a pitch on his right hand, and is not in the lineup for Friday. Both players were injured last night.
Colorado was already without two members of their bullpen as well in Edgmer Escalona and closer Rafael Betancourt.
Looking at the Rockies’ probables, it would appear the Fightins have a chance to do some damage on the scoreboard as well – admittedly a dangerous thought for the 24th-ranked offense in Major League Baseball.
Kyle Kendrick and Cole Hamels draw favorable matchups against Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin, a pair of right-handers with ERAs in excess of 4.50. However, Nicasio has never faced the Phils – and you know how well they do with pitchers they’ve never seen – while Chacin is 1-0 with a 1.21 ERA in five career appearances versus Philly.
Jonathan Pettibone draws 23-year-old Tyler Chatwood on Saturday, another righty. Chatwood’s numbers are good (2-1, 3.14), but he missed his last start due to elbow inflammation. He allowed two runs on three hits in five innings to work a no decision in a lone start against the Phillies.
Obviously the Phils are still shorthanded themselves, missing Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Erik Kratz, and Roy Halladay – Jimmy Rollins also sits in Game 1 with a sore foot. And bad pitching hasn’t necessarily helped spark the offense any other time this year – maybe the thin air will? They have won 12 of their last 15 at Coors.
Plus, while the Rockies may be a little banged up, they do have Carlos Gonzalez, who currently leads the National League in runs (52), total bases (155), and is second only to Domonic Brown with 18 home runs. Dude’s a beast.
Important series for the Phillies, who don’t want to fall too far out of the playoff races much like they did last June. Friday’s game sticks with the recent trend 8 p.m. starts, followed by back-to-back 4:00s over the weekend.