Preview: Astros (22-25) at Rockies (17-29)
Venue: Coors Field
Date: May 28, 2012 8:10 PM EDT
After one of their best stretches of the season, the Houston Astros once again hit a stumbling block on the road. A matchup with the Colorado Rockies might help end the Astros' woes away from home.
The Astros will try to avoid a third straight loss and send the Rockies to their 18th in 23 games Monday in the opener of a rare, scheduled day-night doubleheader.
Houston (22-25) is 16-10 at Minute Maid Park, but only 6-15 on the road. After wrapping up a 6-2 homestand last week and winning Friday's series opener in Los Angeles, the Astros dropped their final two games to the major league-best Dodgers including a 5-1 loss Sunday.
Houston gave up 12 hits - including five to Jerry Hairston Jr. - in the series finale and produced only two, Jose Altuve's triple to lead off the game and a sixth-inning single by Jed Lowrie. The final seven spots in the lineup went a combined 0 for 20.
"It's frustrating. We came up just a little short," Astros starting pitcher J.A. Happ told the team's official website. "That's a heck of a ballclub, and we had a chance to take a series from them."
Although Coors Field is traditionally hitter-friendly, Houston's pitching staff may be able to right itself against a Colorado lineup that's batting .239 during a 5-17 stretch. The Rockies (17-29) have also dropped seven of eight at home.
They had only five hits Sunday in Cincinnati but all five were solo homers, including two from Carlos Gonzalez. Still, Colorado fell 7-5 as the Reds hit four home runs of their own to set a record for most combined long balls (nine) in Great American Ball Park history.
"In defeat, I can't tell you how proud I am of this ballclub the way they stayed after it (Sunday)," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "There is nothing we could do about the first four innings of the game. Six of their seven runs cross the plate via the home run. You can't catch those."
Tracy's starter for Monday's opener, Juan Nicasio (2-2, 4.83 ERA), kept the ball in the yard Tuesday but gave up six runs and nine hits over five innings of a 7-6 loss at Miami. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA over his last four starts.
Nicasio gave up one run over seven innings against Houston on April 8, but the Rockies' bullpen couldn't hold a one-run lead in a 3-2 defeat.
The Astros will counter with Wandy Rodriguez (4-4, 2.14), who earned his first win since May 2 on Wednesday. The left-hander gave up one run on a solo homer over seven innings of a 5-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
Rodriguez is 0-2 with a 5.18 ERA in his last four starts against Colorado, but allowed only three unearned runs over six innings against the Rockies in the clubs' April 6 season opener at Minute Maid. He did not get a decision in that 5-3 defeat, the only loss of that series for the Astros.
Houston was swept in a three-game series at Coors last Aug. 22-24 after winning seven of its previous nine there.
The Astros are expected to take advantage of a new rule that allows a 26-player roster for doubleheaders and call up Jordan Lyles (0-1, 5.29) from Triple-A Oklahoma City to pitch the nightcap. The right-hander, who made three starts in the majors before being sent down May 20, has never started against Colorado.
Alex White (1-3, 5.32) will start opposite Lyles for the Rockies and try to win back-to-back starts for the second time in his career. The right-hander gave up four runs and eight hits over six innings Wednesday in Miami but got credit for an 8-4 victory.
White is 0-1 with an 8.44 ERA in two career starts against Houston.