Since opening the season with series losses, the Colorado Rockies and New York Mets have been two of the hottest teams in baseball.
Both clubs will try to keep it going Thursday night as they begin a four-game set at Coors Field.
The Rockies (16-13) won four of six on a road trip against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona, but it ended on a sour note after they blew a four-run lead in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to the Diamondbacks.
Colorado now returns for six games at home, where its 8-4 and batting .346.
"We know we have a home-field advantage when we go home, and I think we’ve really tried to embrace that and make that part of who we are," manager Walt Weiss told the team’s official website.
Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has been their most noteworthy performer at Coors, batting .563 with four home runs and 14 RBIs in 10 games there this season.
The Mets (15-11), however, haven’t backed down on the road with a 7-3 record. They were rained out Wednesday in Philadelphia, and are 15-8 since being swept by Washington to open the year.
New York also won its last four against the Rockies in 2013, holding them to five runs in that span.
Pitching has also been a big part of their current success. The Mets are 7-2 with a 2.07 team ERA since April 20 – helping to mask a .209 team batting average in that time. Still, they’re focusing on the positives, which include a rotation that has allowed one run on seven hits over 15 innings in the last two games. Bartolo Colon is next in line.
"We’ve got guys that have tremendous stuff," catcher Anthony Recker told the team’s official website. "We’ve got guys that have tremendous experience."
That certainly describes the 40-year-old Colon (2-3, 4.50 ERA). He’s allowed four runs with 14 strikeouts over 14 innings in his last two starts after giving up a career high-tying nine earned runs – and four homers – in five innings of a 14-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on April 13.
Outside of that poor showing, Colon has posted a 2.33 ERA with 23 strikeouts and one walk in four starts. He snapped a two-start losing streak Thursday when he surrendered one run and four hits over seven innings in a 4-1 home win over St. Louis.
Colon, who is 2-0 at Coors Field with a 5.40 ERA, will be opposed by Juan Nicasio.
After an effective first three starts, Nicasio (2-1, 5.27) needs an extended outing after making it through 9 1-3 innings in his last two. He suffered his first loss Saturday in a 6-3 defeat against the Dodgers, allowing five runs on eight hits in 4 1-3 innings.
"I didn’t have command of my fastball," said Nicasio, who allowed two homers for a second straight game, which he also did against New York last year.
Nicasio has faced the Mets once, surrendering four runs on six hits while earning the win in an 8-4 home victory on April 16, 2013.
David Wright hit both of the homers off Nicasio that day and is a career .392 hitter with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs in 32 games at Coors Field. In his last five games there, he’s 10 for 18 with two homers and nine RBIs.
Wright and the Mets’ struggling bats could have some help with outfielder Juan Lagares coming off the disabled list. He’s been out since April 15 with a strained right hamstring and leads the team with a .314 average. Manager Terry Collins plans to use him regularly along with Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and Eric Young Jr., meaning the four outfielders could all have their share of time off.
"They all have a key part on our club, and I don’t know how I’m going to rotate it just yet, but I think they all deserve an opportunity," Collins said. "I don’t think there’s one guy you can point your finger at and say, ‘Hey, you’re not playing.’"
Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado has an MLB-best 20-game hitting streak, on which he’s batting .358. First baseman Justin Morneau is 0 for 11 lifetime off Colon and had a 13-game hitting streak snapped Wednesday.