A team many tabbed as the best in the division before the season began is reaching its full potential with a full complement of healthy players, something manager Jim Tracy did not have at his disposal for most of the season. As four starting pitchers, closer Huston Street and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki missed time due to injuries, the team was able to stay sufficiently afloat to allow for another patented Rockies late-season surge.
Now, Colorado, winners of five of its past six road games, will butt heads with the D-backs, who have the opportunity to play a spoiler role. After disposing of the Dodgers, a perennial thorn in Colorado's side, and the division-leading Padres on the road, the Rockies appear to be poised to rise to any challenge Arizona may bring.
Without a doubt, much of the Rockies' recent success can be attributed to the incredible power surge Tulowitzki has demonstrated. With two homers on Saturday, Tulowitzki became just the third player in the modern era -- joining Albert Belle in 1995 and Barry Bonds in 2001 -- to hit 14 homers in a 15-game stretch.
"I don't have words to describe what we're seeing from Troy Tulowitzki," Tracy said. "It's one thing to be hot. It's another thing to be in the zone, like this guy is. But he has that type of mentality, and he loves this time of the year, going back to 2007 when he was just a kid. He's still at a very ripe age where he's at right now."
The 25-year-old All-Star is tied for the fourth-most home runs in the month of September since 1990 and has four multi-home run games this season -- all in the past 11 games.
The next pitcher who will attempt to slow Tulowitzki's power surge will be D-backs starter Joe Saunders, who was rocked for seven runs and five hits in 2 1/3 innings against the Rockies at Coors Field on Sept. 10.
In that game, Tulowitzki homered twice, but not off Saunders.
"His command wasn't there," catcher Miguel Montero said of Saunders' outing that night at Coors Field. "He fell behind a lot of times, and when he tried to throw strikes, it was a little too late, in hitters' counts. He came right over the plate. This team can swing. They're good hitters, and they're swinging the bat good. They take advantage of the mistakes, especially when we're behind in the count."
Rockies: Young and Olivo rest up
Bothered by the right shin that put him on the disabled list earlier this year, Rockies second baseman Eric Young Jr. was given the day off on Sunday. ... Tracy also gave catcher Miguel Olivo, whom he wanted to catch Jhoulys Chacin and Ubaldo Jimenez in the weekend series against the Dodgers, a day off on Sunday. ... After Monday's off-day, the Rockies will play every day through Oct. 3. ... The Rockies were 26-42 away from Coors Field before rattling off six straight road victories.
D-backs: Upton still nursing shoulder
Outfielder Justin Upton sat out his 15th game in the last 17, nursing a sore shoulder. ... Arizona completed a 2-8 road trip by getting swept by Pittsburgh this weekend and has dropped 12 of 15 overall. ... In Friday's and Sunday's games, the D-backs bullpen blew one-run leads in the seventh inning.
Tulowitzki's 14 home runs in September are a Rockies record for a calendar month -- and with an RBI on Sunday, he matched Matt Holliday's club record for RBIs in September. In his past 17 games, Tulowitzki is hitting .393 (27-for-69). ... The Rockies swept the D-backs in a three-game series at Coors Field from Sept. 10-12.
Tue, 9/21 9:40 PM ET
Saunders delivers damaging blow to Rockies
The D-backs set the all-time single-season record for strikeouts, but Joe Saunders pitched eight stellar innings to lead them past the Rockies, who dropped to 2 1/2 games out in the National League West.
|Gonzalez, C, RF||4||0||1||0||0||2||2||.339|
|De La Rosa, P||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.184|
|Reynolds, Mt, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Drew, S, SS||4||1||2||0||0||1||0||.277|
|Roberts, R, LF||4||1||2||1||0||1||1||.212|
|Parra, G, RF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.255|
|Johnson, K, 2B||4||1||1||2||0||0||2||.274|
|Young, Ch, CF||3||0||0||0||0||0||3||.259|
|LaRoche, Ad, 1B||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||.260|
|Reynolds, Ma, 3B||2||0||0||0||1||1||0||.203|
|Saunders, J, P||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.095|
|Gutierrez, J, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
2B: Gonzalez, C (33, Saunders, J), Olivo (17, Saunders, J).
TB: Herrera; Gonzalez, C 2; Tulowitzki; Olivo 3; Spilborghs.
RBI: Spilborghs (35).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Mora.
Team RISP: 1-for-2.
Team LOB: 5.
E: Helton (6, fielding).
2B: Drew, S (32, De La Rosa), Roberts, R (3, De La Rosa), Gillespie (7, De La Rosa).
HR: Johnson, K (23, 3rd inning off De La Rosa, 1 on, 2 out).
TB: Drew, S 3; Roberts, R 3; Johnson, K 4; Gillespie 2.
RBI: Roberts, R (9), Johnson, K 2 (65).
2-out RBI: Roberts, R; Johnson, K 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Young, Ch; LaRoche, Ad; Saunders, J.
Team RISP: 2-for-8.
Team LOB: 3.
SB: Drew, S (7, 2nd base off De La Rosa/Olivo).
DP: (Johnson, K-Drew, S-LaRoche, Ad).
|De La Rosa(L, 8-5)||7.0||6||3||3||1||5||1||4.22|
Pitches-strikes: De La Rosa 121-72, Reynolds, Mt 12-8, Saunders, J 113-74, Gutierrez, J 17-11.
Groundouts-flyouts: De La Rosa 6-5, Reynolds, Mt 2-0, Saunders, J 10-3, Gutierrez, J 0-1.
Batters faced: De La Rosa 27, Reynolds, Mt 3, Saunders, J 30, Gutierrez, J 3.
Umpires: HP: Doug Eddings. 1B: Dana DeMuth. 2B: CB Bucknor. 3B: Kerwin Danley.
Weather: 79 degrees, roof closed.
Wind: 0 mph, None.
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media