The Colorado Rockies have been one of the best home teams in baseball this season, but the San Francisco Giants haven’t shied away from road confrontation.
The Giants kick off a three-game set at Coors Field on Tuesday night trying to put some distance between themselves and the second-place Rockies, who will have reigning NL batting champ Michael Cuddyer back.
Cuddyer has been out since April 17 with a strained left hamstring but was activated Tuesday.
The Rockies’ 15-6 home record is the second best in baseball. The Giants’ 14-9 road mark is also up there, though they’ve lost nine of 13 in Denver the last two seasons – including two of three last month.
Madison Bumgarner starts for San Francisco (28-17) as he looks for a fourth straight win after losing his previous three. One of those came in a 2-1 defeat in Colorado on April 22, when he allowed two runs over eight innings – a big step up after posting a 6.75 ERA over his previous four starts at Coors.
"They got a really good lineup," Bumgarner told the team’s official website. "It’s arguably the best lineup in baseball."
The left-hander is 3-1 with a 1.39 ERA away from AT&T Park this season, though he’s not reading much into the numbers.
"It’s just the way things happen to work out, how you’re feeling when you catch each team and where you’re at," Bumgarner said. "I think it’s all that. It’s nothing to do with being at a certain park. You’re going out there trying to get hitters out no matter where you’re at."
What’s likely of greater concern is that the Rockies (25-20) are showing signs of being back on track offensively.
Justin Morneau clubbed a two-run walkoff homer in the bottom of the 10th Sunday to help the Rockies conclude their series against San Diego with an 8-6 win. Troy Tulowitzki and Corey Dickerson also homered as Colorado finished with 27 hits in the final two games of the series.
The Rockies hit .221 in the seven games before Saturday’s.
"Sometimes when you get in those funks you lose focus a little bit, sometimes make excuses for yourself and for each other, and (manager Walt Weiss) got fired up," DJ LeMahieu told the team’s official website. "I know I fed off that, and I think our team did."
LeMahieu went 7 for 12 in the series, boosting his average to .303 and giving the Rockies a fourth regular batting over .300. The second baseman is 2 for 17 against Bumgarner, however.
San Francisco is hoping one of its past .300 hitters is on the rebound. Pablo Sandoval homered for the first time since April 13 in Sunday’s 4-1 win over Miami, going 2 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to nine games. His average has jumped from .171 to .220 in that time.
"He’s been swinging the bat well," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I think it good for him to hit a home run. It’s been awhile."
He’ll try to keep it up against Franklin Morales (3-3, 5.40), who has allowed at least four earned runs in four straight starts. He surrendered four on eight hits with four walks over five innings in Tuesday’s 5-1 loss in Kansas City.
"Franklin was working from behind for most of the night," Weiss said. "You get in bad counts and it’s tough to be successful."
The last time he didn’t allow four was the 2-1 win on April 22, as he topped Bumgarner by limiting the Giants to a run with a season-high seven strikeouts in seven innings.
Hunter Pence is 4 for 7 with a home run against Morales while Carlos Gonzalez is 13 for 37 (.351) with five home runs off Bumgarner.
Angel Pagan missed Sunday’s game with a sprained left shoulder, but the Giants are hoping he’ll be ready to go after Monday’s off day.