Rockies-Braves Preview

Ubaldo Jimenez etched his name into the Colorado Rockies’ record

books in his last visit to Turner Field.

With one of the club’s best offensive players uncertain to play,

the Rockies could surely use another dominating performance from

their ace.

Colorado could be without Carlos Gonzalez as it opens a

four-game set against Tommy Hanson and the Atlanta Braves on Monday

night.

After outscoring Kansas City 18-6 in back-to-back victories, the

Rockies (41-43) surrendered their highest run total in more than

two years in Sunday’s 16-8 defeat.

Colorado wasn’t pleased with the result, but manager Jim Tracy

was surely relieved not to have lost Gonzalez to serious injury

Sunday after the star outfielder crashed into the wall while making

a spectacular defensive play.

“He went face first into that wall, making what we think is the

play of the year,” Tracy said. “Surprising he didn’t stick on it,

as hot as the wall was. He was more sore on the glove hand, his

right wrist.”

Gonzalez went 2 for 4 with a home run and a season-best six RBIs

prior to getting hurt, and he is batting .409 with five homers and

17 RBIs over his last 23 games. He is listed as day-to-day after

X-rays on his wrist came back negative.

While they could be short-handed offensively, the Rockies seem

to be in good hands with Jimenez (3-7, 4.35 ERA). The hard-throwing

right-hander went 0-5 with a 5.86 ERA over his first nine starts

but has since gone 3-2 with a 2.45 mark in his last six.

“I think I’m getting better,” Jimenez said after limiting the

Chicago White Sox to two runs in seven innings of Wednesday’s 3-2

loss. “I’m able to go out there every time and give my team a

chance to win.”

The Braves (49-36) know all too well of Jimenez’s talents, as

the Dominican Republic native overcame six walks to record the

first no-hitter in Rockies history during a 4-0 win April 17, 2010,

in Atlanta. He is 2-2 with a 2.61 ERA over his last five games in

this series.

Colorado, which is in third place in the NL West, also plays at

Washington as part of a seven-game road trip.

“It is a big challenge,” Troy Tulowitzki, named to next week’s

All-Star game, told MLB.com. “Braves and Nationals, two good teams.

We have our hands full, but at the same time, we kind of have to

make a statement here if we’re going to be in this thing and if

we’re going to be for real.”

The Rockies likely will be tested with Hanson (9-4, 2.62) taking

the hill for the Braves, who had their five-game winning streak end

with Sunday’s 5-4 loss to Baltimore.

Hanson won three straight starts prior to missing more than two

weeks with right shoulder tendinitis and picked up right where he

left off in his first game back, limiting the Mariners to three

runs and six hits in six innings and earning the victory during

Tuesday’s 5-4 win.

“Once I was out there, I didn’t feel anything,” Hanson said. “My

body and arm, everything felt really good.”

The right-hander yielded four runs in five frames but didn’t

receive a decision in his only career start versus Colorado, a 7-6

road loss July 9, 2009.

Hanson will try to slow down Mark Ellis, who has gone 8 for 15

with two homers and seven RBIs since he debuted with the Rockies on

Friday. He is 3 for 18 lifetime against Atlanta.