Braves-Rockies Preview

The Atlanta Braves have played some of their best baseball in recent weeks thanks in large part to an increase in offensive production.

That figures to only continue at hitter-friendly Coors Field on Thursday night when the Braves open a four-game series with the slumping Colorado Rockies.

Atlanta (42-43) had averaged just 2.1 runs in 14 games since Freddie Freeman landed on the DL with a right wrist injury, but the team has gathered some offensive momentum since, scoring 4.6 runs per game in five contests.

That production was good enough for the Braves to take the first two in their three-game set with Milwaukee before a 6-5 defeat Wednesday.

Cameron Maybin has hit safely in eight straight while touting a .394 average in that span and Kelly Johnson has two homers and seven RBIs in his last five, as the Braves have won seven of 10.

Alex Wood (6-5, 3.34 ERA) enjoyed the bulk of that offensive support Saturday when he allowed four runs in six innings in a 9-5 win over Philadelphia. The left-hander preceded that outing with 7 1-3 shutout innings at Pittsburgh on June 28 – what Wood called "the best start of the year" – but was far less prideful of his most recent performance.

”Pretty ugly,” Wood told MLB’s official website. ”Probably the worst I’ve had in terms of command of all my pitches.”

Wood has never pitched at Coors Field, and will oppose a Rockies lineup that has struggled to score lately. Colorado (35-49) tied for MLB’s third-best offense with 4.6 runs per game through June 26, but the Rockies have since averaged just 2.6 runs while losing nine of their last 11.

Following a 3-7 road trip, Colorado was swept in a brief two-game home set with the Los Angeles Angels, losing 3-2 on Wednesday.

Nolan Arenado had three hits in the loss to remain a bright spot despite the club’s struggles. The All-Star is hitting .326 with nine home runs and 21 RBIs in his last 23 games.

Troy Tulowitzki had a single Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to 20 games, matching Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis for the longest in the majors this season. Tulowitzki has also reached base in 35 consecutive games.

On the mound for Colorado will be Kyle Kendrick (3-10, 6.00), who has allowed 23 home runs – most among qualifying starters – and ranks toward the bottom of baseball in ERA, WHIP (1.45) and strikeouts per nine innings (4.76).

Those numbers only grow uglier at home, where the right-hander has a 6.70 ERA, 1.58 WHIP and 4.10 strikeouts per nine, though he did win his last outing with four runs allowed over six innings in a 10-5 victory over Arizona on June 23.

Kendrick last faced Atlanta while with Philadelphia, and he beat the Braves with seven shutout innings on Sept 2.

The Braves have won 16 of 21 against the Rockies, but dropped the last two meetings at Coors Field.