Without Holliday, Coors Field might feel like a vacation spot for Lowe
Once Todd Helton retires or at least ends his long career with the Rockies, Tim Hudson will finally understand what it’s like to exit Coors Field without frustration. This belief is strengthened by what transpired last year when Derek Lowe learned how tranquil Denver can be without the presence of Matt Holliday.
Against Lowe, Holliday hasn’t matched the perfection that Helton has produced while recording hits in each of the eight at-bats he’s ever recorded against Hudson at Coors Field.
But Holliday is certainly a primary reason that Lowe will return to Blake Street tonight having gone 3-4 with a 5.66 ERA in nine career starts at Coors Field. The All-Star outfielder batted .650 (13-for-20) with a 1.167 OPS against the veteran sinkerballer in Denver. He has been just a .333 (5-for-15) hitter against him in environments that don’t include the thin Rocky Mountain air.
When Lowe made his Coors Field debut for the Red Sox during Holliday’s 2004 rookie season, he tossed seven scoreless innings. He has allowed four earned runs or more in five of his other eight starts at this spacious park that is an offensive haven, with or without the humidor.
When Holliday was a member of the A’s on July 10 of last year, Lowe exorcised some of his Coors Field demons by limiting the Rockies to one run and four hits over six innings. During his third start of this season, he recorded yet another win against the Holliday-less Rockies.
Lowe has gone 4-1 with a 2.14 ERA in his past five starts against the Rockies, dating back to June 2, 2008. It should be noted that just one of these starts was made in Denver.
Another thing going for Lowe is the fact that the Rockies aren’t planning to wear “Nationals” across their chests tonight.
Lowe has gone 3-6 with a 3.65 ERA in his past 13 starts. In the 10 starts that weren’t made against the Nationals during this span, he has gone 3-3 with a 2.93 ERA.
Heyward heating up: Before grounding into a double play to end the seventh inning last night, Jason Heyward had reached base safely in 10 consecutive plate appearances and recorded hits in seven consecutive at-bats.
Over his past three games, Heyward has recorded nine hits in 13 at-bats. Not bad considering he had totaled just nine hits in his previous 56 at-bats this month. Before starting this mini-surge on Saturday, the rookie All-Star had hit .171 over his previous 21 games.
After Sunday’s four-hit, two-homer performance at Wrigley Field, Heyward admitted he’s still feeling some discomfort in the bruised right thumb that plagued him throughout June and sidelined him during the two weeks leading up to the All-Star break.
Still while health has played a part, his inconsistencies are also a product of the fact that this 21-year-old outfielder is still going through the sometimes cruel initiation process that has welcomed almost everybody who has had the opportunity to play in the Majors.
Through May, Heyward was on pace for a 30-homer season and seemingly destined to be named the National League’s Rookie of the Year. The thumb injury opened the door for Giants catcher Buster Posey and Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez to join the Braves outfielder as top NL ROY candidates.
If the past couple days are an indication of things to come, Heyward could certainly end the season hitting above .280 with 18-20 homers and 80-plus RBIs. Entering his first Major League season, I don’t think much more should have been expected from him.
One more late night: If any of you need to go to bed before the conclusion of tonight’s game, but still want to know the outcome before you wake up, I suggest you simply watch what transpires in Philadelphia tonight.
Since trading wins and losses on Aug. 13 and 14, the Braves and Phillies have experienced the same verdict during each of the past eight days that they both have played games.
The Braves own the same 2 ½-game lead they held over the Phillies at the end of play on Aug. 1. They are also 3 1/2 games in front of the Cardinals and Giants, who both sit a game behind the front-running Phillies in the NL Wild Card race.