Cubs-Rockies Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 18, 2013
Finally healthy and rested following the All-Star break, the Colorado Rockies hope to take advantage of a soft schedule to open the second half. The Rockies look to make a climb in the standings during a 10-game homestand against three of the league's worst teams, starting with the first of three against the Chicago Cubs on Friday night. After closing out the first half with a 4-6 road trip, Colorado (46-50) is in third place in the NL West but just 4 1/2 games back of first-place Arizona. "We're healthy again, and we've weathered this last road trip, so I think that we've got some momentum going into the second half,'' said All-Star Michael Cuddyer, who hit the go-ahead two-run homer in a 3-1 win over the Dodgers on Sunday. Cuddyer has been especially outstanding at home, hitting .362 with nine homers, 27 RBIs and a 1.068 OPS in 32 games there. Teammate Troy Tulowitzki is hitless in 10 at-bats since missing almost a month because of a fractured rib, but he's 13 for 29 with 12 RBIs in his last seven home games against the Cubs. While the Rockies also play last-place teams Miami and Milwaukee during this homestand, Chicago (42-51) could be a tougher challenge, having gone 24-21 in its last 45 games. "It's a half that could have gone a lot different, but I think a lot of guys have progressed, kind of taken strides in the right way,'' first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. The Cubs have been hurt by a bullpen that's tied for the most blown saves in baseball with 19, though it's Chicago's starters who have been an even bigger problem in recent trips to Denver. The Cubs have dropped 10 of 11 at Colorado while their rotation has posted a 10.68 ERA. Jeff Samardzija (5-9, 4.06 ERA), whose three appearances at Coors Field have come out of the bullpen, looks to reverse that trend and bounce back from one of the worst performances of his career. The right-hander allowed four homers - as many as he'd given up in his previous nine starts - and matched a career high by allowing nine runs over 4 2-3 innings in a 13-2 loss to the Angels on July 10. He's 1-0 with a 2.40 ERA and 14 strikeouts over 15 innings in two career home starts against the Rockies. All-Star Carlos Gonzalez went 5 for 5 with two homers in Colorado's lone win in a three-game set at Wrigley Field in May, and he's 20 for 38 with a 1.446 OPS in nine career home games against the Cubs. The Rockies counter with Jorge De La Rosa (9-5, 3.21), who has gone 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his last five starts. The left-hander is 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA in four starts against the Cubs, though he gave up four runs while lasting just three innings, serving up homers to Starlin Castro and Dave Sappelt, at Coors on Sept. 25. Sappelt - 8 for 19 in his last six games - could get another start in place of David DeJesus, who has been out with a shoulder injury. Teammate Alfonso Soriano has nine homers and 19 RBIs in his last 16 games, though he's only 2 for 14 against De La Rosa.
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