Notes: Tulo having solid all-around year
Rox name rotation for final series; NL Wild Card tiebreakers set
LOS ANGELES -- The Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki knocked his 23rd home run of the season, second-most for a rookie shortstop, in Tuesday night's 9-7 victory over the Dodgers. But he was just as proud of a shot he received.
In the fourth inning, Tulowitzki caught a throw from second baseman Kazuo Matsui with the Dodgers' Russell Martin dangerously close to him. Tulowitzki moved toward right-center but Martin still crashed into his shins. Nonetheless, Tulowitzki made the throw to first to complete a double play.
How important was that? Later in the inning, the Dodgers' Chin-Lung Hu knocked a two-run homer. Had he not made that double-play turn -- and shortstops with less nerve or less sturdy than the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Tulowitzki might not have -- that would have been a three-run homer with just one out.
The National League Rookie of the Year Award is subject to a growing debate. The Brewers' Ryan Braun entered Wednesday with 32 home runs, a .322 batting average and 91 RBIs, even though he was in the Minors for the season's first month.
Tulowitzki is no slouch, at .293 with the 23 homers and 93 RBIs. His 149 games played is either an argument for him since he's a rookie playing short on a prime contender, or against him because of Bruan's power numbers (he had a .630 slugging percentage) in fewer games.
But how much does Tulowitzki's bruise count? It counted for an important run Tuesday, and the runs over the season add up.
"That's something that goes unnoticed," Tulowitzki said. "It was definitely big. They hit a home run later. It was a small thing that doesn't go into a box score. Not too many people notice that unless you know the game pretty good.
"That was on the same level as the home run to me. Both were equally important. Martin goes in hard all the time, but sometimes to turn a double play you have to take a shot."
In many circles, the conversation stops with Braun's offensive numbers. What's unclear is if those circles include voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Braun has committed 23 errors at third base, while Tulowitzki is meriting Rawlings Gold Glove Award consideration from managers and coaches who vote.
But Tulowitzki is flattered that deep thinkers, no matter whether they have votes, find him worthy of consideration.
"It's what you want," he said. "Do you want to have a guy who's had a monster year on offense, who's a very good player, who does a lot? Then you've got myself. I have an all-around game and I think I had a pretty average year. Either way, it's not my concern, as long as we get to the playoffs."
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle finds Tulowitzki's year much better than average and calls him "my Rookie of the Year," while also acknowledging Braun's standout year.
Only Dodgers first baseman Nomar Garciaparra, who hit 30 homers as a shortstop as a member of the Red Sox in 1997, hit more as a rookie. Tulo also leads NL rookies in RBIs, hits (170), runs (97) and total bases and leads Major League shortstops in fielding percentage, total chances, assists, putouts and double plays.
"I never played shortstop but in Little League, and that's not the same thing," Hurdle said. "But I've talked to shortstops. I talked to Walt Weiss [a former All-Star shortstop, now a special front-office assistant with the Rockies] a lot. Besides catching, that is the most rigorous position on the field, the most draining -- mentally fatiguing. It's every pitch and communication on both sides of you, behind you and in front of you. Then you come in and play offense."
Pitching set: The Rockies have solidified their pitching rotation for the final three-game set with the Diamondbacks at Coors Field.
Lefty Jeff Francis (17-8, 4.17 ERA) will start Friday night's opener. He could have been held back a day, but the Rockies want to keep him on four days' rest. Following Francis will be veteran lefty Mark Redman (1-4, 8.67 ERA overall; 1-0, 4.30 in four games, two starts, with the Rockies). Ubaldo Jimenez (4-4, 4.52 ERA) will start Sunday afternoon's regular-season finale.
Three the hard way: Major League Baseball released on Wednesday the procedure for settling the Wild Card berth if a three-way tie among the Rockies, Padres and Phillies materializes. Because the Rockies finished best in the three-way head-to-head season series with the Padres and Phillies, they control the decision.
The Rockies could elect to have the Phillies and Padres play, then travel to meet the winner. Or they could choose to play a tie-breaking game and, if they win, host the Padres or the Phillies.
If the Rockies decide to play, the Phillies will choose whether to play the Rockies or play against the winner of the Rockies-Padres game.
Other tie-breaking procedures were announced earlier this month.
Up next: Left-hander Franklin Morales (2-2, 3.15 ERA) will start for the Rockies against Dodgers right-hander Esteban Loaiza (1-3, 8.53) in the finale of the three-game set on Thursday at 8:10 p.m.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.