Rockies hope to keep rolling at home vs. Mariners

DENVER — The Colorado Rockies seem to be hitting their stride and conclude play before the All-Star break with a series against the Seattle Mariners.

Antonio Senzatela (3-2, 5.34 ERA) will start for the Rockies against Christian Bergman (0-0, 0.00), who began his career in the Colorado organization and will be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to make his second spot start of the season for Seattle.

Bergman takes the place of Felix Hernandez, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list with back stiffness. That move resulted in a break for the Rockies because with a day off Monday, the Mariners opted to start ace left-hander James Paxton on regular rest Thursday at the Los Angeles Angels instead of Friday, when he was scheduled to face the Rockies.

Paxton allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning Thursday and left with lower back tightness as Seattle lost 11-2 to the Angels.

The Rockies beat Paxton 5-1 on Saturday, tagging him for four runs in seven hits, the big blow a three-run homer by Noel Cuevas.

The Rockies (48-45) have won a season-high four straight series, all against teams above .500 — the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Rockies, winners of 10 of their past 13 games overall, also are gaining traction at Coors Field, where they have won nine of their past 12 games dating from June 19 to improve their home record to 20-23.

The Rockies won the rubber game Thursday against Arizona for their first series win against the Diamondbacks since May 5-7, 2017. Before dropping the final two games of the series, the Diamondbacks had won 13 of their past 16 games against the Rockies.

“They’ve given us a really hard time,” Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado said. “So to win a series finally at home against them feels really good. I don’t know how many series in a row that is, three or four series in a row. We got a chance to win another one here going into the break, so that’d be big.”

Senzatela is 1-1, 4.15 in two starts since replacing Jon Gray in the rotation. He pitched seven scoreless innings July 3 against the Giants but gave up six runs in six innings Sunday at Seattle and lost 6-4.

Bergman made a spot start May 16 against the Texas Rangers and held them to two hits over seven scoreless innings with no walks and five strikeouts. Bergman pitched parts of the 2014-2016 seasons with the Rockies and is 6-4, 6.69 in 30 games (seven starts) at Coors Field. Bergman, who has never faced the Rockies, was 6-6, 4.78 in 18 starts for Tacoma.

Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz, 38, a member of the American League All-Star team, will be limited to pinch-hitting in the interleague series. In five games at Coors Field, Cruz is 7-for-17 (.412) with two home runs, a double and three RBIs.

But Mariners manager Scott Servais doesn’t want to risk playing Cruz in the outfield because he had calf issues after doing so last year in interleague play. Cruz, strictly a DH this season, played 28 innings in the five games in right field last season.

Cruz, who is hitting .266 with 22 home runs and 55 RBIs, can’t argue with Servais’ reasoning.

“You have to be smart,” he said. “I understand the process. And I understand he’s the one that makes the call. I definitely want to play. But he has the last call. We’ll see what happens. I will be prepared.”

Servais said the temptation to play Cruz in right field and put his bat in the lineup at hitter-friendly Coors Field is great.

“But it lasts for about 10 seconds and then we move on,” Servais said. “But it’s hard. He’s a big part of our offense. It will be a challenge for us going into Coors Field without him in the middle of the lineup. But we are trying to win the war and along the way you have to fight a lot of battles.”