The Colorado Rockies hope to win a third straight game without slugger Nolan Arenado when they seek to take another positive step in the National League wild-card race at the host San Francisco Giants’ expense on Tuesday night.
After getting the news Monday that Arenado would have to go on the injured list because of inflammation in the AC joint in his left shoulder, everything else broke the Rockies’ way in their longshot quest to reach the postseason, starting with a 7-2 win over the Giants in the opener of a four-game series.
Colorado (24-29) began the day in sixth place in the NL wild-card race, but benefitted from four of the five teams ahead of it losing, including the Giants (26-27). The only team among the five that won did so at another’s expense when Cincinnati (28-27) beat Milwaukee (26-27).
The Rockies moved up a spot in the logjam, passing the New York Mets (24-30), and find themselves sitting two losses behind each of the four teams ahead of them.
Colorado could get within one game of San Francisco with a second straight win in the series Tuesday, now fully cognizant that any run this week will come without its five-time All-Star.
Rockies manager Bud Black indicated the injury could take a month to fully heal, but Arenado, who would be eligible to return next Wednesday, hasn’t ruled himself or his teammates out.
“That would be an unbelievable thing to find a way to get in the playoffs and be able to come back,” he said Monday. “I’m focused on getting healthy right now.”
The task of shutting down the Arenado-less Rockies falls upon Giants left-hander Drew Smyly (0-0, 3.94 ERA). San Francisco has won each of his three starts, including 9-3 against Seattle on Sept. 16.
Smyly has faced the Rockies just once in his career, that having been in July 2016 when he pitched for Tampa Bay. He allowed five runs, including a Trevor Story homer, in five innings in a 7-4 loss, giving him an 0-1 record and 9.00 ERA against Colorado.
The Rockies are scheduled to counter with lefty Kyle Freeland (2-2, 3.75), who hasn’t won since Aug. 1, a span of nine starts.
Colorado’s starter on Monday, German Marquez, hadn’t recorded a win since Aug. 4 before beating the Giants in the series opener.
Freeland has made two starts against the Giants this season, and while he came away with a pair of no-decisions, the Rockies won 6-4 and 9-6. In those games, Freeland allowed a combined seven runs and 16 hits in 8 2/3 innings.
He’s 6-3 with a 3.60 ERA in 14 career starts against the Giants.
Freeland served up home runs to Mauricio Dubon and Mike Yastrzemski in the earlier meetings, both of which took place in Colorado.
Yastrzemski has missed the last four games with a strained right calf. He remains day-to-day, although Giants manager Gabe Kapler sounded more optimistic than pessimistic before Monday’s loss.
“He was moving around much better,” Kapler said. “He did a lower-body workout that included isometric exercises. It went smoothly. And he took some dry swings. No issue.”
–Field Level Media