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Colorado Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, who hasn't pitched in the majors in nearly 16 months, could make his return this week. De La Rosa started for the Class-A Modesto Nuts on Saturday and allowed three earned runs in five innings. He threw 71 pitches.
If he is cleared by team doctors and on regular rest, De La Rosa will likely pitch on Thursday at San Francisco. De La Rosa pitched in 10 games in 2011 before suffering an elbow injury that required surgery. In those starts, he was 5-2 with a 3.51 ERA in 59 innings.
During his rehab, De La Rosa has made seven starts in four levels of minor league baseball. He has compiled a 6.64 ERA, 1.77 WHIP and 22 strikeouts in 20⅓ innings.
The Rockies reportedly are not looking to add any free agent pitchers in the offseason, so De La Rosa's recovery is crucial. He has an $11 million player option for next season and will likely a key cog in Colorado's rotation.
The Giants (81-62) jumped on Rockies starter Jeff Francis (5-5) from the first pitch. Left fielder Gregor Blanco started the big inning with a lead-off triple. After several singles, Brandon Crawford hit a two-RBI double to right field to cap the five-run inning. The 5-0 lead would prove to be all San Francisco would need, though it would add three more runs and total 15 hits on the night.
Tim Lincecum (9-14) picked up the win for the N.L.-west-leading Giants, who claimed a 2-1 series victory with the win. Colorado catcher Wilin Rosario was one of the few Rockies who had anything going, as he followed up a first-inning RBI single with a solo home run in the third, his 24th of the year.
The Rockies (57-85) will have Thursday off before beginning a three-game series in San Diego against the Padres on Friday.
The Giants scored all five of their runs in the game's first inning. Gregor Blanco hit a lead-off triple, then scored on a Marco Scutaro single. This was followed by RBI singles from Joaquin Arias and Hector Sanchez, who both scored on a Brandon Crawford double.
Wilin Rosario is responsible for both of the Rockies' runs. He hit an RBI single in the first and a solo home run in the third.
Colorado starter Jeff Francis was replaced by Adam Ottavino in the fourth inning. Francis gave up five runs and seven hits and struck out five in three innings of work. Ottavino has allowed three hits and has struck out three in two innings.
The Rockies have only managed four hits off San Francisco starter Tim Lincecum, who has six strikeouts in five innings.
According to the National Weather Service, weather conditions are expected to remain wet and unchanged for most of Wednesday, with potential for a slight break in cloud cover occurring around 7:00 pm MT, approximately 30 minutes after the scheduled first pitch of 6:40 p.m. MT.
If weather prevents the game from commencing, the game would likely be moved to Thursday, September 13. Both teams have a scheduled travel day that could be replaced with a make-up game instead. This is the last time that San Francisco visits Coors Field for the season, so there is plenty of incentive to finish the series this week.
The Colorado Rockies sprung out to an early lead but the San Francisco Giants stormed back and survived a late-inning scare to get the 9-8 win and even the three-game series at one apiece on Tuesday night.
Colorado got after Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner early, with singles by third baseman Chris Nelson, catcher Wilin Rosario and first baseman Jordan Pacheco all contributing to a 4-0 Rockies lead.
Bumgarner would leave the game after 4.1 innings pitched and allowing five earned runs on 11 hits, but not before the pitcher launched a game-tying three-run homer in the fourth inning off of Rockies starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin. Chacin went four innings after giving up six hits and four earned runs.
San Francisco would claim the lead outright, 6-4, in the fifth when first baseman Brandon Belt doubled home two runs. After Colorado right fielder Matt McBride cut the lead in half with a RBI single in the bottom of the fifth, the Giants poured in three insurance runs in the sixth and seventh, including Belt's sixth home run of the season, a solo shot, that made the score 9-5 San Francisco.
The Rockies made an attempt at a late-inning rally, beginning in the eighth with left fielder Carlos Gonzalez's RBI single. Pinch-hitter Tyler Colvin's two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth gave Colorado new life before reliever Javier Lopez earned his seventh save for the Giants when he got Jason Giambi to line out to end the game.
San Francisco has not changed their lineup other than their pitcher after game one, while the Rockies have put Wilin Rosario back into the starting lineup after benching him on Monday due to bad defensive play in recent weeks. His replacement at catcher, Ramon Hernandez, injured himself during the Rockies' 6-5 win on Monday night.
The Rockies (57-83) snapped a five-game losing streak with Monday's 6-5 win over the Giants and will hand the ball to Jhoulys Chacin (4-5, 4.50 ERA) on Tuesday. The Giants (79-62) will send Madison Bumgarner (14-10, 3.15) to the mound.
Despite his impressive line for the season, Bumgarner has struggled lately and looks to avoid losing his fourth straight start. He'll do so against one of his favorite opponents. In 57.1 career innings against Colorado, Bumgarner sports a 1.88 ERA.
On the flip side, Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez is a .368 career hitter against Bumgarner with two homers in 19 career at-bats, though Gonzalez is a mere 1-for-16 in his last five games.
The Giants, who lead the Los Angeles Dodgers by five games in the NL West, have won eight of 12 meetings with the Rockies this season. Root Sports-Rocky Mountain will carry the game locally.
Wilin Rosario was originally held out of the game because of defensive issues, but was brought in anyway after Ramon Hernandez strained his left hamstring. He played efficiently through the rest of the game, perhaps indicating that getting benched for his defense was a wake-up call to the rookie.
Colorado's offense did just enough to Ryan Vogelsong to get an early lead on the Giants, putting four runs on him by the fourth inning including one from an Alex White home run. White ended with a no-decision from the mound after his solid effort at the start of the game was killed by the bullpen, which allowed four runs between the sixth and eighth innings.
Ryan Betancourt pitched a perfect ninth inning to get the save and preserve the win for Colorado. The two teams will face off again Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. MT. Jhoulys Chacin is set to take on Madison Bumgarner in game two of the series.
Colorado manager Jim Tracy made the move after Rosario recorded five passed balls in two losses against the Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend, including four in Sunday's game. Via Thomas Harding of MLB.com:
"The message has to be very clear, and that is you can't catch like that," Tracy said. "It put us in a bad spot in two games that we had chances to win.
"We've got to be better than this. It won't work moving forward. It's got to get a helluva lot better. It's not fair to the club. It's not fair to the pitching staff. It's not fair for pitchers who want to bury a breaking ball with two strikes. I've seen a couple of them get left up in the zone, and there's part of me that's wondering why."
Rosario accepted the criticism.
"Right now, I'm trying to find a way to catch it better," Rosario said. "That was one of the toughest games I've ever had in the Major Leagues. We're working. That game showed that you need to work every day because sometimes you find something new."
Rosario, who leads all National League catchers with 23 runs, has 19 passed balls on the season, the worst mark in the majors. He said that he had difficulty seeing on Sunday due to late-afternoon shadows.
"I cannot tell you guys any definitive date," Tracy said before Monday night's game against the National League West-leading Giants. "There are still some things that he's trying to work out, and I mean that physically. That being the case, I do not feel like we're sending this guy out in a Major League game less than himself because of the risk of something else happening and there being another visit into my office and them telling me it will be well into 2013 or late in 2013 before we see him again.
"We have [the Giants] that we're playing seven out of the next 10 days. Anybody that's had the experience to know what it's like to win a divisional championship or a Wild Card championship, there is a high level of intensity involved in these games, one club trying to get there, the other club trying to spoil the effort. Thinking you may have a player out there that may not be quite up to par, I don't think that's a real good place to go."
Tulowitzki last suited up for Colorado in May and had surgery in June. He played nine innings for Double-A Tulsa on Sunday when the team was eliminated from the Texas League playoffs.
Alex White has pitched a solid game so far against the San Francisco Giants, but he won't be remembered for his pitching performance at the end of it all.
White hit a home run in the second inning off of Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong, launching a pitch a long way into the pavilions. It's the first pitcher-hit home run for the Rockies since Jason Hammel launched one in the 2011 season.
The Rockies are currently leading 3-1 in the fourth inning. White has put together a solid performance with two strikeouts and only five hits allowed to the Giants' offense. White is nearing his 75-pitch limit, so the fourth may be his last inning. With a home run on his resume, he's done plenty for the team so far.
The Colorado Rockies return home Monday after a seven-game road trip that saw them drop the last five games. On the opposite end of their effort to break the losing streak are the San Francisco Giants, who lead the NL West.
Alex White (2-8, 5.31 ERA) takes the mound for the Rockies as they look to start the short, three-game homestand with a victory. He will face Ryan Vogelsong, who takes the mound for the Giants with a 12-7 record and a 3.29 ERA.
Here are Monday's starting lineups:
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (79-61)
COLORADO ROCKIES (56-83)
The Colorado Rockies have not had a very good season in 2012. At 56-83, the Rockies are on pace for perhaps the worst season for the franchise since 2005, when the team finished 67-95 on the year. The good news is that Colorado appeared in the World Series just two years later, so at least there could be the potential for hope on the horizon.
In the short term, there is some good news that can come with a disappointing season. The Rockies are currently projected to have the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft and there's a good chance the team could land one of the top prospects in baseball that can help propel a team forward after a down year.
Of course, the last time the Rockies had such a chance, they struck out. With the No. 2 pick in 2006, the Rockies passed on Evan Longoria, Brandon Morrow, Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum; Colorado picked pitcher Greg Reynolds instead. To say Reynolds failed to live up to expectations is an understatement.
For the 2013 draft, the Rockies will have a number of prospects to choose from. RHP Mark Appel from Stanford is expected to be the top overall pick by the Houston Astros, with some projecting the Rockies to pick outfielder Austin Meadows of Grayson High School in Georgia.
Other top prospects include: RHP Ryne Stanek, LHP Sean Manaea and OF Austin Wilson.
The Colorado Rockies entering Monday's opening game against the San Francisco Giants on a five-game losing streak. Will they be able to end it in the confines of Coors Field?