|Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies Battle For NL Wild Card|
|Thursday, 13 September 2007 02:59|
The Colorado Rockies came into their series with Philadelphia hoping to make up ground in the wild card chase, and in the finale, they'll have a chance to move past the Phillies in the playoff chance.
The Rockies look to build off a convincing victory Thursday when they wrap up their four-game series at Citizens Bank Park.
Colorado (76-69) lost 6-5 in 10 innings in Monday's series opener, but has outscored Philadelphia (76-69) 20-2 in winning the last two. The Rockies pounded the Phillies 12-0 on Wednesday in the most lopsided road shutout in team history.
The victory left both the Rockies and Phillies 2 1/2 games behind San Diego in the NL wild card chase. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who beat the Padres on Wednesday, are also 2 1/2 back.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Colorado -117 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 10 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 65% of bets for this game have been placed on Colorado -117 (View MLB Bet Percentages).
Colorado has won 12 of its last 18 to surge back into playoff contention, while Philadelphia is just 4-7 since winning six straight to pull within two games of the NL East-leading New York Mets. The Phillies are now seven games behind the Mets, and have all but conceded the division.
"We're almost forced to feel that way," catcher Chris Coste told the Phillies' official team Web site. "It's not like we're giving up on the division. It's facts. We unfortunately put ourselves in this hole where if we're going to get in, that's the way we're going to have to do it."
The Phillies turned their second triple play of the season Wednesday. With runners on first and second, Matt Holliday lined a hard shot that third baseman Greg Dobbs caught inches above the ground. Dobbs threw to second baseman Chase Utley for the second out, and Utley tagged Troy Tulowitzki.
However, Holliday got a measure of revenge by hitting a three-run homer his next time up. Holliday, who has homered in four straight games, leads the NL with 119 RBIs, and is 6-for-11 with four home runs in this series.
"You just feel like you're seeing pitches really well," he said.
Colorado starter Denny Bautista threw just two scoreless innings in his first start of the season after appearing as a reliever in 58 games between Triple-A and the majors, but reliever Mark Redman pitched five innings to get the win and save the bullpen some work.
Still, the Rockies would love to get a long start from Jeff Francis (15-7, 4.05 ERA) in the finale. Francis went eight innings in his last start on Saturday, a night after Colorado used 10 pitchers - an NL record for a nine-inning game.
Francis, who is trying to become the first Rockies left-hander to win 16 games, is 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA over his last five starts. He allowed only two runs on Saturday but was charged with the 3-1 loss to Greg Maddux and San Diego.
"I thought he was really good, finished strong," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He was only sketchy in the one inning. His command got better as the game went on."
Francis has made just two previous starts against the Phillies, both at home, going 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA. He was pounded for six runs in five innings against them on July 6, but the Rockies pulled out a 7-6 win in 11 innings.
Francis has been strong on the road, going 8-3 with a 3.77 ERA in 14 starts.
The Phillies will counter with J.D. Durbin (6-5, 6.12), who is having a difficult month so far. He allowed five runs - two earned - in 4 1-3 innings of Friday's 6-3 loss to Florida, after failing to retire a batter in his previous start on Sept. 1, also against the Marlins.
Durbin has also struggled against the against the Rockies. In two career previous outings against them, both this season, he has allowed eight runs in just 2 1-3 innings of relief and earned an 0-1 record.
"We've got 17 games left," manager Charlie Manuel told the Phillies' team site. "Everything has to fall right, we've got to pitch good enough to get there."
by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us
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