The Rays left one winter wonderland yesterday for another, landing in a cold Denver for a three game set against the Colorado Rockies. Some have espoused the thought that Thursday’s rain-out/snow-out may have been the best outcome for the Rays who struggled mightily in Kansas City. Look at the bright side: The game was postponed in the fourth inning, so nothing counted, including Tampa Bay’s one run deficit going into the Royals half of the inning.
The 12-15 Rays are 5-5 in their last 10, while the 17-11 Rockies are 4-6 in the same span of time. Tampa Bay sits seven-and-a-half games out of first going into Friday’s game, while the Rockies have a one game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. Oddly enough, if you compare the Rays and Rockies over the last 14 days (below), both teams production numbers are fairly similar.
How the Rays Hitters Fare Against the Rockies Series Starters
Jeff Francis: Per Rotowire, Francis (0-1, 5.25 ERA vs the Rays over the last three years) held the Diamondbacks to two runs on four hits over five innings Saturday but did not factor in the decision. Francis has an upper 80’s MPH fastball, a sinker that he tends to lean on when he’s ahead in the count, a cutter, a changeup, and a curveball that he tends to use when he’s ahead of left-handed hitters. A handful of the current Rays have put up some decent numbers against, posting a combined .303 BA/.370 OBP/.515 SLG/.885 OPS slash line in 66 official at-bats. Key match-ups: Desmond Jennings (3-4, 2B, 3B, RBI, BB), Kelly Johnson (7-15, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB), Evan Longoria (4-6, 2B, HR, 5 RBI), Luke Scott (1-3, HR, 3 RBI), Ben Zobrist (2-5, 2B, RBI).
Jon Garland: Per Rotowire, Garland lasted six innings Sunday, yielding four runs (three earned) on eight hits and two walks while striking out four, as Colorado fell again to Arizona. The Rays have never officially faced the 33 year-old RHP as a team, though a handful of players have experience against the fastball/sinker-ball pitcher. Key match-ups: Yunel Escobar (2-7, HR, 3 RBI), Jose Molina (3-6, 2B, RBI), Ryan Roberts (2-6), Luke Scott (6-13, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB).
Tyler Chatwood: Per Rotowire, Chatwood (0-1, 7.36 ERA vs the Rays over the last three seasons) struck out five batters over six scoreless innings in Monday’s 12-2 thumping of the Dodgers. The 23 year-old hard throwing RHP tends to induce a lot of ground balls, especially with his sinker and his curveball. He has given up a few homers (18) in his short career on fastballs and sinkers left in the zone, and the Rays could have some success if they’re patient at the plate. Key match-ups: Matt Joyce (3-5, 3 RBI, BB), Ben Zobrist (1-4, 2B, BB).
- The Colorado Rockies have cooled off since a 13-4 start, having lost seven of 11 overall. Their productive offense will get tested Friday night against Matt Moore who’s seeking his sixth victory of the season. The Rockies lead the majors in batting average and hits while recording an NL-best 148 runs.
- Matt Joyce’s bat has come alive, homering in three straight games for Tampa Bay, which has scored 28 runs in the last four contests. Joyce also hit a double in Thursday’s game, though that statistic was erased upon postponement of the game.
- Tampa Bay has hit at least one home run in 16 consecutive games, belting 29 in that span.
- Colorado has a solid bullpen, having allowed only three runs — none earned — in 24 1/3 innings on the seven-game road trip that just ended.
- Colorado is 7-2 at home against Tampa Bay all-time in interleague play.
- Unlike the Rays match-up against James Shields, I seriously doubt that anyone is going to get wistful when Reid Brignac comes to the plate this weekend. Good old Louisiana Lightning is posting a robust .250 BA/.308 OBP/.306 SLG/.614 slash line with a whopping three RBI.
- The Rockies have been especially tough in Denver, winning nine of 12 while batting .311 with runners in scoring position.
- Rockies starter Jeff Francis is 0-2 with a 12.60 ERA in his previous three starts before allowing two runs and four hits in five innings of a 3-2, 10-inning loss at Arizona on Saturday.
- James Loney is 1 for 17 against Francis, though he’s 22 for 42 with a homer and nine RBIs in his last 14 games.