Once considered one of the more promising prospects in the game, the Colorado Rockies' Dexter Fowler hasn't quite lived up to expectations.
If his efforts over the holiday weekend are any indication, though, the five-tool outfielder may finally be ready to put it all together.
The Rockies try for a sixth consecutive home victory over the scuffling Houston Astros as these teams continue a four-game set Wednesday night.
Colorado (19-29) lost 15 of 18 from May 4-22 but has since won four of six, including a doubleheader sweep of Houston on Memorial Day. After taking the first game 9-7, the Rockies pulled out a 7-6 victory as Fowler capped an already impressive day with a game-winning triple off Astros closer Brett Myers in the 10th inning.
"Tears of joy," said Fowler, who has been mired in some lengthy slumps this season. "I had one walk-off hit before, but it's nothing like this for what I've already battled through this year and what the team has gone through."
Fowler finished the day 7 for 9 with a homer, five runs scored, three RBIs and a stolen base. He raised his batting average to .276 - the highest it's been since April 12.
Fowler was in a 1-for-12 slump before contributing a pinch-hit homer Sunday at Cincinnati, and his seven home runs are a career high. He's done most of his damage at Coors Field, hitting .333 with six homers and 20 RBIs in 24 home games.
"This is the player that we think he's capable of being on a regular basis," said manager Jim Tracy, who moved Fowler to the leadoff spot Monday for the first time this season.
Houston (22-27), meanwhile, has dropped a season worst-tying four straight since scheduled starter Lucas Harrell (4-3, 3.72 ERA) last took the hill.
The right-hander is looking to win a third straight start, having allowed one earned run in each of the last two. Six days after striking out a career-high six in a 6-5 victory over Texas, Harrell went 7 1-3 innings during Friday's 3-1 win at Dodger Stadium. He recorded 17 groundball outs and didn't strike anyone out in the longest outing of his career.
"When I get a lot of contact is when I go deeper into the game," Harrell told MLB's official website. "(Friday) I made it into the eighth inning, and when I get contact that's really good for me. Strikeouts are nice, but I hope that I don't get a lot."
The right-hander also impressed in a 7-3 home win over Colorado on April 7, surrendering three hits and no walks over seven scoreless innings in his season debut.
"I'm kind of excited to see him this next outing after the outing he had against the Dodgers on Friday night," manager Brad Mills said.
Harrell will be opposed by rookie Christian Friedrich (2-1, 5.09), who got hit hard in a 10-3 loss to Seattle on May 19 but was better Friday in a 6-3 win at Cincinnati. The left-hander yielded three runs and struck out six over five innings, earning his first victory since his major league debut three weeks ago.
"It's a competitive effort from Christian Friedrich, but it could be better," Tracy said. "As he goes forward, we'll want to see it get better."
Colorado has averaged 8.0 runs during its five-game home winning streak over Houston. This is the Astros' longest skid at Coors Field since losing six straight there bridging the 1996 and '97 seasons.
Houston hasn't dropped five in a row overall since a seven-game slide Aug. 9-15.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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