Royals-Rockies Preview

It hasn’t taken long for Mark Ellis to make an impact on the

Colorado Rockies.

Ellis and the Rockies look to complete a sweep of the sputtering

Kansas City Royals on Sunday after scoring nine runs in each of the

first two games.

Ellis was hitting .217 when he was traded Thursday from Oakland

to Colorado (41-42), which was looking to shake up a team that is

third in the NL West, 6 1-2 back of first-place San Francisco. The

Rockies had lost five of six entering the weekend, averaging 3.2

runs and batting .229.

After a 9-0 win Friday, Colorado had another productive day at

the plate in a 9-6 victory Saturday. Ellis had three doubles and

drove in two runs and Troy Tulowitzki homered for a third straight

game as the Rockies had a season-high nine extra-base hits.

Ellis is 6 for 10 with five RBIs, four doubles and a home run in

his first two games with Colorado.

”I personally feel he’s going to be a lift, and he doesn’t have

to do it with two and three hits every game,” manager Jim Tracy

said. ”His presence and the professionalism he brings to our

clubhouse each and every day – that’s a lift.”

Ellis will try to help the Rockies win three straight for the

first time since a four-game run June 14-18.

Kansas City (33-50) dropped a season-high 17 games below .500

with Saturday’s loss, the team’s seventh straight on the road. The

Royals, who have lost five in a row overall and 11 of 13, scored

six runs Saturday to match their total from the previous four

contests.

”For us to come out swinging the bats was nice for us,” Jeff

Francoeur said. ”Hopefully that’s something that can get us

going.”

Alex Gordon matched a career high with four hits, including a

home run, and is 7 for 13 his last three games.

The Royals will send Denver native Luke Hochevar (5-8, 4.96 ERA)

to the mound Sunday in his Coors Field debut.

Hochevar avoided a third straight loss with a win over the Cubs

last Sunday. He threw a season-low 88 pitches over 5 2-3 innings

while giving up three runs and seven hits in a 6-3 victory.

The right-hander is 9-3 with a 4.32 ERA in his last 14 day

starts compared to 2-11 with a 5.26 ERA in 21 night appearances

over the last two seasons.

“I don’t pay attention to that stuff,” Hochevar said. “Whether

it’s day or night, I’ve got to go out and do exactly the same

thing. I don’t get into that. I’ve pitched good in day. I’ve

pitched good at night. It doesn’t matter.”

Hochevar started against the Rockies in 2008, allowing two runs

in eight innings of a 4-2 victory.

Colorado will hand the ball to Jason Hammel (4-7 4.02) as he

tries to build off a promising start.

Hammel has just one win in his last 11 starts, but pitched well

against the White Sox on Tuesday, giving up two runs in seven

innings of a 3-2, 13-inning victory.

The right-hander has given up two or fewer earned runs in six of

his last 11 starts.

Hammel is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts and three relief

appearances against the Royals. He faced them last year as a

starter and allowed five runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 9-2 loss.