Hot teams collide as Rockies battle Nationals
DENVER — The two teams with the best records in the National League will tangle when the Colorado Rockies and Washington Nationals begin a four-game series Monday at Coors Field.
The Rockies (13-6) are coming off a three-game home sweep of the San Francisco Giants and have won six of their past seven games.
The Nationals (13-5) have won seven straight, matching their longest winning streak of last season. The first six wins in this streak came on their 10-game road trip that will end in Denver after visits to face the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. Overall, the Nationals are 7-2 on the road.
“Every good team (has) to play good on the road, so we got a good head start,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “You want to be .500 or better on the road. Most of my teams are. Most of it is just sheer determination and playing good ball. And you have to have good pitching. You’ve got to have good bullpen help, because the ninth inning is tough — the bottom of the ninth. Even when I was a kid, me and my brother would play who would have last ups, and he’d always want first ups. And I’d always want last ups.”
Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson will try to get his season moving in the right direction when he starts Monday. Anderson is 1-3 with a 7.32 ERA in four starts, with three consecutive losses.
After making 12 quality starts in 19 outings as a rookie last year, Anderson has yet to pitch six innings in a game this season. He will be making his first career start against the Nationals.
The Rockies outscored the Giants 26-8 in their series sweep, and Charlie Blackmon has been a big reason for Colorado’s offensive revival. After beginning the season 2-for-19, Blackmon has hit safely in eight straight games and 13 of his past 14, going 18-for-55 (.327) in that stretch with three doubles, three triples, five homers, 13 RBIs and nine runs to raise his average from .105 to .270.
“Charlie’s an all-field hitter for me,” Rockies manager Bud Black said Sunday after an 8-0 win over the Giants in which Blackmon led off with a triple for the second consecutive game and doubled home two runs. “Just watching through spring training, watching his work in batting practice.
“He’s capable of doing what he’s done the last couple nights. Fastball yesterday ripped down the first base line, beat (Brandon) Belt to the bag, triple. Home run to straightaway center. Ball off the wall in right-center leading off the game (Sunday). Double down the left field line.
“The old adage, hit it where it’s pitched — that’s Charlie. A ball away, he’ll take the other way. He can drive the ball to the middle of the field, and he can turn on a ball. He’s a good hitter.”
The Nationals will add right-hander Jacob Turner to their roster Monday to make a spot start against the Rockies in the series opener. Stephen Strasburg, who was scheduled to pitch Tuesday, is going to be placed on paternity leave Monday. He will miss three days and won’t pitch at Coors Field. Joe Ross will get an extra day of rest before he starts Tuesday, and Ross will followed by Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez.
Turner was lifted from his Thursday start for Triple-A Syracuse after 1 2/3 innings and 31 pitches. He is 0-0 with a 2.61 ERA in three starts for Syracuse.
Turner last pitched in the majors on Oct. 2 for the Chicago White Sox. He is 12-27 with a 5.09 ERA in 79 career games, including 53 starts.
Against the Rockies, Turner is 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA in three career starts in 2013 and 2014 while with the Miami Marlins. In his lone start at Coors Field, he took a loss in 2013, allowing two runs in six innings.