Same Road Traveled?

The Colorado Rockies entered the 2007 All-Star break in fourth place in the NL West, but ended up in the World Series.

As they begin the second half this year, they're again in fourth - but with a longer road back to the postseason.

Bet on Major League Baseball

The defending NL champs, 8 1/2 games behind in baseball's worst division, will try to avoid a fifth straight loss Thursday when they open a four-game set with the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Colorado –142 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 64% of bets for this game have been placed on Colorado –142 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Colorado (39-57) was 44-44 and 5 1/2 games behind division-leading San Diego at the break last year, but went 46-29 the rest of the way to capture the wild card. The Rockies closed the regular season on a 14-1 tear to tie the Padres, whom they defeated in a one-game playoff to earn the postseason berth en route to winning the NL pennant.

There are again three teams above the Rockies in the West this year as they prepare to face the Pirates (44-50), but Colorado's record is the fourth-worst in the majors.

"The bottom line is we're only a few games out and the reality is we've played some pretty good teams," third baseman Garrett Atkins told the team's official Web site. "It's premature to give up on the season, especially the way we've been playing lately."

Part of the reason for Colorado's struggles can be attributed to injuries, as pitcher Jeff Francis, first baseman Todd Helton, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Ryan Spilborghs are on the disabled list. Of the Rockies' top five run producers last season, only Atkins has avoided a trip to the DL.

Meanwhile, All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday - who can become a free agent after 2009 - has been rumored to be on the move prior to the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.

"That's obviously their decision - management's going to do what they think is best," said Holliday, hitting .337 with 14 homers and 51 RBIs. "As players, we have confidence in ourselves that we can play well and have a good second half and make a run at whoever is in first place."

To do that, the Rockies will need to improve offensively - they're 10th in the NL in runs and scored once in three games while being swept by the New York Mets before the break. They'll also need better pitching from a staff that's 28th in the majors with a 4.93 ERA.

Ubaldo Jimenez (4-9, 4.22 ERA) will get the ball Thursday, and he's performed better of late after a poor start. He's 3-3 with a 2.28 ERA in his last seven starts after beginning the season 1-6 with a 5.43 ERA.

Jimenez gave up three runs over six innings in a 3-0 loss at New York on Saturday.

Pittsburgh, owner of the worst ERA in baseball at 5.24, will send their top starter to the mound in red-hot Paul Maholm (6-5, 3.93). The left-hander hasn't lost in nearly two months, and he's 1-0 with a 1.96 ERA in his last three starts.

Maholm, the only Pirates starter to last eight innings this season, did it for the second consecutive game last Thursday. He gave up two runs and seven hits in Pittsburgh's 4-2 win over the New York Yankees.

"(He's become) a student of the game," manager John Russell told the Pirates' official Web site. "He has taught himself a lot about pitching. He's a guy that you feel real comfortable with in (key) situations."

Maholm allowed one run over seven innings in his last start in Colorado, a 5-1 victory Aug. 23.

Pittsburgh is tied for fourth in the NL in runs, led by the league's most productive outfield. Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and All-Star center fielder Nate McLouth have combined for 50 homers and 174 RBIs.

Bet on Major League Baseball

Did you like this article? Subscribe to our Baseball news feed for the fastest updates delivered right to you - Click here to Subscribe

MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail World Series opener pits Lester vs. Kluber Two title-starved organizations are ready to kick off one of the most intriguing World Series matchups we’ve seen in some time.
Thumbnail Kershaw tries to keep visitors' run going The Cubs seized a 3-2 edge in the NLCS by winning Games 4 and 5 in Los Angeles. Will Clayton Kershaw be able to save the Dodgers’...
Thumbnail North Siders' bats rise as NCLS progresses Anthony Rizzo is still batting well below .200 in the playoffs. Yet the Chicago first baseman seems to be heating up at precisely...
Thumbnail Hosts ask Urias to give them 3-1 NLCS edge Tonight, Julio Urias will make history in Game 4 of the NLCS. The Dodgers simply hope that it’s for all the right reasons.
Thumbnail Francona needs relief corps to thrive again The Blue Jays suddenly have life in the NLCS. Now, though, can they truly put fear in the Indians and send the festivities back to northern...
More inMLB Articles  

MLB Headlines

More inMLB News  

MLB Team Pages