Rockies limp home to take on Reds (Jul 03, 2017)

BY AP • July 3, 2017

DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies will try to rebound from a ruinous road trip when they begin a four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds on Monday.

It is the start of a seven-game homestand that concludes with an interleague series against the Chicago White Sox leading to the All-Star break.

Jeff Hoffman (4-1, 4.04 ERA) will start for the Rockies, who are 22-15 at Coors Field, while Luis Castillo (0-0, 3.38) will take the mound for Cincinnati in a matchup of promising rookie right-handers.

The Reds will reach the All-Star break with a seven-game road trip that will end at Arizona. Cincinnati has lost 14 of its past 16 road games, and with a 12-26 road record, the Reds are tied with San Diego for the fewest road wins in the majors.

However, after losing 19 of 26 games, Cincinnati took two of three from the Chicago Cubs over the weekend to finish a 4-2 homestand against the Cubs and Milwaukee, the top two teams in the very ordinary National League Central.

The Reds (35-46) are last in the division, 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Brewers. They have used 25 pitchers this season, and seven of the 13 starters they have used are rookies. That sounds like a disastrous mix, but Cincinnati is far from buried.

"Because the division is down this year and the best teams are hovering a bit over .500, that keeps us in this thing," manager Bryan Price told the Dayton Daily News after the Reds' 6-2 loss to the Cubs on Sunday. "With the better pitching we're getting from the rotation and the way we score runs and defend and close games out, there's no reason to think there's not a winning streak in there that could make for a lot of fun in the second half."

Castillo will make his first appearance against the Rockies and his third major league start. He was the victim of blown saves in his first two outings. In a 107-pitch outing Wednesday against Milwaukee that ended in a 4-3 Cincinnati win, Castillo allowed five hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings with three walks and nine strikeouts.

Hoffman allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings but was the victim of a blown save Tuesday in his last outing at San Francisco, where Colorado lost 4-3 in 14 innings.

He will be trying help the Rockies (48-36) get back on course after a 1-8 road trip that left them with 10 losses in their past 11 games. That slide has dropped Colorado seven games behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers and 4 1/2 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West.

The Rockies' 11-game tailspin, entirely against the NL West, began with two losses at Coors Field to Arizona before Colorado was swept in three games at Los Angeles and San Francisco and dropped two of three at Arizona.

A 4-3 loss Sunday in the rubber match against the Diamondbacks was particularly deflating. The Rockies tied the game with a run in the ninth off Arizona closer Fernando Rodney before the Diamondbacks won in the bottom of the inning on Ketel Marte's first career walk-off hit.

The Rockies were outscored 53-26 and batted just .211 on the nine-game road trip. They did not have an extra-base hit in five of the games. In 317 at-bats on the trip, Colorado's meager extra-base output amounted to just four doubles, one triple and three homers.

"We're not even playing good baseball yet, and everyone knows it," Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado told after the Sunday loss. "It's obvious. We haven't really hit our stride yet. It's a matter of us going out and doing it. I feel like I've talked about this a few times. Enough's enough with the talking.

"It's not like we're playing scrubs. We're playing good teams that are beating us, and we've got to get hot."

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