Sending a Message

The Arizona Diamondbacks endured a long and frustrating offseason after being swept by the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 NLCS. Less than two weeks into the 2008 season, the Diamondbacks have already delivered an early message to the Rockies.

After sweeping a three-game series at Coors Field last weekend, Arizona looks to win its seventh straight game Friday when it opens a three-game set against Colorado at Chase Field.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Arizona -140 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 8 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 59% of bets for this game have been placed on Colorado +130 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

In their home opening series last weekend, the Rockies (4-5) celebrated the success of the 2007 team with pre-game festivities before each game against the Diamondbacks (7-2).

First it was the fireworks and pageantry of opening day, next Colorado raised its NL championship banner and finally it held a ring ceremony. Arizona responded by outscoring the Rockies 20-5 in sweeping the three-game series.

"This sets the tone for the year, just coming here and winning three games at their place, especially after what they did to us last year,'' Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds said after Sunday's victory.

Reynolds went 6-for-13 with two home runs and six RBIs at Colorado last weekend, and leads the majors with 13 RBIs.

After its sweep over Colorado, Arizona stretched its winning streak to six games with Wednesday's 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Diamondbacks had 11 hits on Wednesday, and are batting .321 with 43 runs and 12 homers during the winning streak.

"It's a scrappy team that happens to be able to hit some home runs, too,'' said Eric Byrnes, who was 3-for-5 with two RBIs Wednesday. "I know we hit a lot of home runs in those first two games, but I think the greatest thing about this team is we can win games in different fashions.''

Arizona staff ace Brandon Webb (2-0, 2.08 ERA) looks to continue his early season dominance when he takes the ball in the series opener.

After being tagged for 17 earned runs in 18 innings spanning five spring training starts, Webb has allowed three earned runs in 13 innings in winning his first two starts of the season. The 2006 NL Cy Young Award winner gave up two runs, five hits and struck out five in seven innings of Saturday's 7-2 win over Colorado, and has not opened a season with three consecutive victories since 2005.

This will be Webb's first start at Chase Field, where he went 8-5 with a 3.17 ERA in 16 starts last season. The right-hander really struggled against the Rockies at home in 2007, going 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in three starts against them.

Colorado has won its last three games following a five-game losing streak.

The Rockies' chance to sweep a four-game series over Atlanta was halted when Thursday's series finale was postponed until June 16 because of snow.

Matt Holliday was 2-for-5 with two RBIs in Wednesday's 12-6 win over the Braves. The reigning NL batting champ is batting .429 (9-for-21) with two home runs and seven RBIs in his last five games after opening the season only 1-for-14 in his first four contests.

Todd Helton, who is batting .353 with two home runs and four RBIs, homered off of Webb last week. He is hitting .302 (16-for-53) with three home runs and four doubles lifetime against the Arizona ace.

Jeff Francis (0-1, 7.11) was scheduled to start Thursday, and he'll look to bounce back after a rough first outing of the season when he takes the hill Friday.

Francis opposed Webb on Saturday, and gave up five runs, 12 hits - including three home runs - and struck out three in 6 1-3 innings of the loss to the Diamondbacks.

The left-hander hopes to get things turned around at Chase Field, where he is 4-0 with a 3.24 ERA in seven career starts.

Here are some top trends for tonight's matchup:

-FRANCIS is 8-3 when starting against ARIZONA with an ERA of 3.62 and a WHIP of 1.309.

-WEBB is 9-8 when starting against COLORADO with an ERA of 3.86 and a WHIP of 1.345.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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