Braves eye another win over Rockies
The Colorado Rockies know that they need to change some things if they hope to make the postseason.
They need to look no further for inspiration than starter Juan Nicasio, who gets the call on Tuesday night for the second contest of a four-game series with the Atlanta Braves.
After some struggles in June, highlighted with a loss in Boston that saw him allow six earned runs and 12 hits over just 2 1/3 innings, Nicasio was given a brief demotion to the minor leagues before returning in mid-July. He has been excellent in three starts since, allowing just one run and eight hits over 19 innings.
With renewed confidence, the right-hander has also walked just four batters with 15 strikeouts since his return.
Nicasio won two straight starts before not factoring into a 5-3 loss versus Miami on Thursday as the Marlins scored four runs in the ninth inning. Nicasio allowed just two hits over seven scoreless frames and struck out nine, lowering his season earned run average to 4.40 to go along with a 6-4 record over 19 starts.
The 26-year-old hopes his current success can lead to his first career victory over the Braves, a club he is 0-2 against lifetime with a 7.53 ERA in three starts.
Colorado has lost five of its past eight and dropped the opener of a 10-game road trip with Monday's 9-8 setback in Atlanta in 10 innings. That has the Rockies a season-high 6 1/2 games out of first place in the NL West.
After blowing an early 5-0 lead, the Rockies tied the game in the ninth when Carlos Gonzalez hit an RBI single off of Jordan Walden. However, the Braves secured their fourth straight win on Andrelton Simmons' triple in the bottom of the 10th that chased home Dan Uggla.
Walden blew the save attempt in place of closer Craig Kimbrel, who was rested after securing three saves in a weekend sweep of St. Louis.
Atlanta is nine games up on Washington for first place in the NL East.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, matched a career high by going 5-for-5 at the plate in his return to the lineup. He also stole two bases after sitting out the previous three games with a sprained right middle finger.
"I think we're doing okay, we just need to play a little better and see what happens at the end," said Gonzalez. "You can't just get down and put your head down. This is a tough league and a tough game. Things change and that's what we are looking for."
The Braves have had to change their rotation thanks to injuries to Paul Maholm and Tim Hudson, who will miss the rest of the season with a fractured right ankle.
Alex Wood is an option at replacing Hudson and he makes his third career start tonight.
Wood, a rookie, has made 17 appearances this season, including starts on June 18 and last Thursday. He lasted just 4 1/3 innings versus the New York Mets last time out, allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks in a no- decision.
The 22-year-old lefty, who is 0-2 with a 3.42 ER this year, was a second-round pick in the 2012 draft by the Braves out of the University of Georgia and will face the Rockies for the first time. Wood has a 2.70 ERA at home this season.
Atlanta has won 15 of the last 19 meetings with Colorado and nine of the past 10 at home.