Notes: Hurdle campaigns for Holliday
Rox skipper tries to drum up MVP support for his left fielder
LOS ANGELES -- The games are bigger, which means the media turnout is growing. So Rockies manager Clint Hurdle has jumped at opportunities to deliver his message to the voters, or at least the fans.
A day after stumping for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki for National League Rookie of the Year, Hurdle passionately campaigned for left fielder Matt Holliday to win the big election of the Baseball Writers' Association of America -- the NL Most Valuable Player Award.
His shrewd strategy involved heading off any negative campaigning.
Holliday entered Thursday afternoon second in the NL in batting with a .338 average, leading the league in RBIs with 132, first in hits with 208 and first in total bases with 374. His 36 home runs were fourth.
Of course, for much of the Rockies' history big offensive numbers were discounted because the team plays at Coors Field. But Coors is giving up fewer home runs than ever.
Also, Hurdle noted that the Phillies have three MVP candidates -- shortstop Jimmy Rollins, first baseman Ryan Howard and second baseman Chase Utley -- that aren't getting the same scrutiny, even though they play at Citizens Bank Park, where the ball jumps over the wall and power alleys are more like hallways.
"People immediately talk about Coors Field when they mention his [Holliday's] name," Hurdle said. "Nothing to take away from the three Phillies, because they've had a heck of a season, but that's like having 27 shots on goal every time someone steps to the plate.
"That has been more than Coors Field ever was when I was there in the heyday. That's arena ball. No disrespect, but it's a great place to hit. Our place isn't the same place. You need to visit it. People keep talking about it, and they were there five years ago and haven't been there lately. It's a more true, fair ballpark."
On Holliday's candidacy, Hurdle said, "The offensive numbers are what they are. He's earned them. He plays both sides of the ball. His average is special and he's driven a bunch with the game on the line."
If writers that vote are truly listening, or at least if argumentative type fans are paying attention, this is a rare situation where a hitter has helped the Rockies' decisions to store baseballs in a chamber that keeps them from becoming harder to throw and easier to hit hard because of Denver's atmosphere.
Oh, yeah, these guys can pitch: Despite losing three-fifths of their starting rotation, going to a new closer and having to monitor the workloads of relievers, the Rockies have posted the NL's best ERA since the All-Star break, at 3.89 going into Thursday.
The Braves were second at 3.95, followed by the Cubs at 4.18, and the Padres and Diamondbacks at 4.31.
On the Rox: Rockies head trainer Keith Dugger said center fielder Willy Taveras, trying to recover from a quadriceps strain that put him out for the 17th straight game on Thursday, will run for the training staff on Saturday but he still has not faced live pitching. That most likely means the only way he'll return is if the Rockies make the playoffs, and they'll have to make a decision whether to activate him for the NL Division Series. ... As the playoff plot thickens, Major League Baseball announced more tie-breaking scenarios, including what would happen in a five-way tie that would involve the East and West championships and the Wild Card. ... Catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who swore off heavy weight training this year to avoid shoulder problems that cost him most of last season and still affect his throwing, has held up well going into his club-record 102nd start Thursday night. Torrealba hit .292 with eight RBIs in 14 games leading into Thursday, with eight of his last 13 hits going for extra bases.
Up next: To ensure a proper night's sleep, the Rockies flew Friday night starter Jeff Francis (17-8, 4.17 ERA) back to Denver on Thursday. The Diamondbacks, who arrive to open a crucial three-game set, pulled righty Brandon Webb (17-10, 3.02 ERA) from a scheduled start Thursday and will send him against Francis and the Rockies on Friday at 6:05 p.m. MT.
Francis is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the D-backs this season, and is 7-1 with a 3.35 ERA in his career against them. Webb has struggled with the Rockies this season, going 0-3 with a 6.47 ERA in five starts.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.