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Rockies hope to build momentum against surging Guardians

Jun 8, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA;  Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Antonio Senzatela (49) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies’ surprisingly strong start to the season had faded for a month. Colorado had gone from 16-11 to nine games under .500 after the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday.

But the team has momentum after beating San Diego in Saturday’s nightcap, then again on Sunday to win two in a row for the first time since May 4-5. Colorado will try to build on that when it opens a three-game home series against the Cleveland Guardians on Tuesday night.

The Rockies will send Antonio Senzatela (2-3, 4.83 ERA) to the mound against Cleveland’s Shane Bieber (3-3, 2.91) in the opener in a matchup of right-handers.

Senzatela is 1-0 with a 3.97 ERA in two career starts against the Guardians.

Colorado managed to take two of three home games over the Miami Marlins in late May and early June, but then the Atlanta Braves came to town and swept a four-game series.

The season could have gone into an abyss after that. But the Rockies went to San Francisco, where they hadn’t won a series since June 2019, and took two of the three games. They followed that with a split of four games in San Diego to finish 4-3 on the road trip.

Colorado won’t have one of its top relievers to face Cleveland. Tyler Kinley has posted a 0.75 ERA in 25 appearances this season, but he was placed on the 15-day injured list on Sunday with a right elbow nerve injury.

“It just wasn’t where we thought it was going to be after some rest,” manager Bud Black said Sunday. “So we just decided to be very cautious and place him on the IL. We’ll see where he is four or five days from now.”

The Rockies aren’t the only team feeling good after this weekend. Cleveland has won 10 of its last 13 games after taking three of four from Oakland over the weekend, its fourth straight series win. Near the end of May, the Guardians were a season-low five games below .500, but they’ve surged since then.

“We’re playing with a really good amount of energy,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “It’s a fun way to play, but it’s not the easiest to do it every day. … We have guys that are pretty fast and willing to get down the line, and sometimes we run people into mistakes and it helps us.”

The offense has been the catalyst for the Guardians. Since losing 2-1 to Detroit on May 29 they have outscored teams 67-44 and have not scored fewer than three runs in a game.

That bodes well heading into a park known for churning out the offense. It will be a challenge for Bieber, who has never faced Colorado and will get his first chance at taming Coors Field.

If Bieber pitches like he has over his last five starts, he has a chance to keep the Rockies’ offense in check. Bieber had averaged seven innings pitched in four straight outings before his last start was cut short after 4 1/3 innings due to a long rain delay.

His ERA is 1.67 in his last five starts.

–Field Level Media