A rough stretch may get even tougher for the Colorado Rockies, and a three-game series with the resurgent Los Angeles Dodgers isn't the only reason.
The Rockies may be without shortstop Troy Tulowitzki as they go for just their third win in nine games in Monday night's opener.
Colorado (15-10) opened the season by winning 13 of 17, batting .318 with runners in scoring position while hitting 27 homers and averaging 5.9 runs.
The Rockies haven't been nearly that productive while dropping six of eight, scoring 3.4 per contest and batting .227 with runners in scoring position - .179 while dropping three of four at Arizona over the weekend.
They managed 12 runs in that series, losing Sunday's finale 4-2.
"As long as you continue to go out on a day in and day out basis and play good hard baseball and continue to do the right things, it will definitely work out," said starter Jon Garland, Sunday's losing pitcher. "We have already seen what we are able to do when we get some guys hot offensively and we are throwing the ball good."
Possibly doing that without Tulowitzki will likely be a tougher challenge.
The two-time All-Star will be re-evaluated after leaving Sunday's game with a strained left shoulder after an awkward slide home in the first inning. He was easily tagged out, and remained in the game for two more innings before being replaced by Jonathan Herrera.
"I didn't know he got hurt on the play," manager Walt Weiss said. "It sounds like he jammed his shoulder sliding into the plate."
Tulowitzki has a .308 average with six homers and a team-high 22 RBIs. He's hitting .347 with 22 RBIs and a .653 slugging average over his last 25 meetings with Los Angeles (12-12).
Colorado has dropped four straight overall to the Dodgers, and at Chavez Ravine with Tulowitzki on the disabled list with a groin injury.
The Rockies certainly felt that absence during those four defeats in Los Angeles, getting outscored 24-5 while hitting .220.
Facing Ted Lilly may not help, either.
The left-hander is 10-2 with a 3.92 ERA in 14 career starts versus Colorado, going 6-0 with a 2.86 ERA over the last seven.
Lilly is also coming off an impressive performance in his first start in 11 months after undergoing shoulder surgery. He yielded one run with seven strikeouts in five innings of Wednesday's 7-3, 10-inning loss to the Mets.
"I was definitely under the impression I had to prove myself at this level, and understandably, coming off shoulder surgery, prove to myself, too," Lilly told the team's official website.
Lilly's outing is part of the rotation's 2.81 ERA over the last seven games, helping the Dodgers to five wins.
Carl Crawford is facing the Rockies for the first time since 2009 with Tampa Bay, and he's trying to continue his home success. The left fielder is batting .391 with 11 runs scored at Dodger Stadium, hitting three homers over the past three games there.
He connected for a pair of solo homers Sunday - one on the first pitch of the game - in a 2-0 win over Milwaukee.
Colorado is expected to turn to Tyler Chatwood, who is also trying to improve upon his season debut. The right-hander gave up five runs with three walks in six innings before leaving without a decision in a 6-5 win over Atlanta on Wednesday, when he replaced the injured Jhoulys Chacin in the rotation.
Chatwood is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts at Chavez Ravine.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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