National League Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, July 14th
(All times Eastern)
Milwaukee Brewers (49-43) at Colorado Rockies (43-48), 8:40 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Milwaukee - Yovani Gallardo (10-5, 3.76)
Colorado - Ubaldo Jimenez (4-8, 4.14)
(Sports Network) - After powering the National League All-Stars to a victory
on Tuesday, Prince Fielder can now turn his focus into making the Milwaukee
Brewers National League Central champions.
He won't be alone.
In addition to having the All-Star Game MVP in the heart of their offense, the
Brewers are expected to get Ryan Braun back into the lineup tonight. They
should also have new bullpen arm Francisco Rodriguez available as they open a
lengthy road trip out west with the first of four straight against the
Colorado Rockies at Coors field.
Set to enter free agency this winter, Fielder leads the National League with
72 runs batted in and is tied for second with 22 home runs. That doesn't
include his go-ahead three-run homer in the fourth inning of Tuesday's All-
Star Game that helped his squad to a 5-1 victory.
Fielder became the first Brewer to homer in the Midsummer Classic and also the
first to capture the game's MVP.
"It's real cool," Fielder said during a postgame ceremony for his MVP award.
"I'm just happy I was able to be here, glad my kids are here with me too and
my wife. It's been a great time."
Good times could also be in store for the Brewers in the second half after the
club acquired Rodriguez from the Mets in a trade over the break. Milwaukee is
hoping the move will help put it over the top as it comes out of the hiatus
tied with St. Louis for first in the NL Central, one game up on Pittsburgh.
Rodriguez posted 23 saves and a 3.16 earned run average in 42 games with the
Mets and set a single-season major league record in 2008 when he posted 62
saves with the Angels. He has a $17.5 million option for 2012 that becomes
guaranteed if he finishes 55 games and he did so in 34 games with the Mets
Rodriguez is expected to share closer and setup duties with John Axford, who
has saved 23 games this season, including a current string of 20 straight that
is tied for the third-longest in franchise history.
While manager Ron Roenicke will be tasked with handling the closer role,
filling out his lineup card should get a bit easier with the expected return
of Braun. The outfielder missed Milwaukee's final eight games of the first
half -- though the Brewers still won four of five prior to the break -- due to
a strained left calf and had to pull out of the All-Star Game.
Milwaukee opens an 11-game West Coast road trip tonight in a less-than-ideal
location as the club has lost 13 of its last 16 games at Colorado. The
Brewers, though, did sweep a three-game set at home from the Rockies on May
Coors Field has also not been kind to 25-year-old Brewers starter Yovani
Gallardo, who has a 9.19 ERA in three starts at the stadium and is 0-3 with a
5.85 ERA in six career games against the Rockies.
The right-hander did finish out the first half by winning two of three starts,
lasting seven innings in each outing. He beat the Diamondbacks on July 6,
giving up a run on four hits and a walk while striking out six to improve to
10-5 with a 3.76 ERA in 19 starts this season.
While the Brewers will be back to full strength tonight, the Rockies will play
without Carlos Gonzalez after the outfielder received a cortisone shot in his
right wrist on Tuesday. Gonzalez hurt the wrist crashing into the wall on July
3 and has a deep bone bruise.
Gonzalez is hitting .292 with 13 homers and 51 RBI this year and his absence
isn't welcome news for a Rockies club that has lost six of its last eight and
trails the first-place Giants by 8 1/2 games in the NL West.
Things could begin to look up for the Rockies though if Ubaldo Jimenez can
turn a corner in the second half. A 19-game winner and All-Star Game starter a
season ago, the righty went just 4-8 with a 4.14 ERA in 17 first-half starts,
compiling a 6.24 ERA in nine games at home.
Jimenez did finish strong before the break, allowing two earned runs or less
in six of his final eight starts while putting together one of his better
starts of the season on Saturday in Washington. The 27-year-old hurled eight
frames of one-run ball, scattering five hits and a walk in a 2-1 win. He
retired the first 13 batters faced and stuck out eight to become Colorado's
all-time strikeouts leader with 750.
Afterwards, Jimenez sounded like an ace who will bring some confidence into
the second half.
"I'm 100 percent now. Everything is back to normal. I just had to find a way
to keep the speed and location at the same time," Jimenez said about his
Jimenez did suffer a loss at Milwaukee on May 22, yielding three runs -- two
earned -- on two hits and five walks over eight innings. He fell to 2-1 with a
2.57 ERA in five starts versus the Brewers.
07/14 10:36:27 ET
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