Their road trip off to a perfect start, the streaking Cincinnati Reds head to Colorado for a weekend series against the struggling Rockies.
Friday's opener is a mix of young and old on the mound as veteran Bronson Arroyo meets rookie Drew Pomeranz in the 8:40 p.m. (ET) start. Arroyo and the Reds opened as 125 favorites and the Don Best Pro Odds listed 10½ for the total.
Both clubs enjoyed Thursday off, and Cincinnati hopes the break doesn't interrupt the 7-game win streak it brings into the Mile High City. We mentioned a week ago how a thrilling rally from a 6-0 deficit against the Diamondbacks could propel the Reds into their series opener vs. Milwaukee, and that has certainly been the case following a home sweep of the Brewers last weekend before brooming the Astros in Houston to begin this road trip.
The streak helped Cincinnati to a 2.5-game cushion atop the NL Central standings above the Pittsburgh Pirates who were opening a 4-game series in Houston on Thursday. The schedule points to the next few weeks as being an excellent time for the Reds to increase that lead; starting with this series in Denver, seven of Cincinnati's next eight series are against teams sporting sub-.500 records.
While the Reds are enjoying good times, it has been anything but fun for Jim Tracy and the Rockies for a while now. Colorado's last sniff of .500 came May 2, and the club is following up a 9-18 month of June with a 7-13 record so far in July, 4-8 since the all-star break. The Rocks will begin this series 17.5-games behind the front-running San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
Good news for Cincinnati is Arroyo has posted four quality outings among his most recent five starts. More good news is the fact the wiry right-hander has pitched better on the road than at home, with his ERA away from Porkopolis a little more than a half-run lower than when he climbs the hill at Great American Ball Park.
Ah, but pitching at Coors Field is a little different than the average road assignment, and the bad news is the Denver diamond has never treated Arroyo kindly. Dating back to his days with the Red Sox, Arroyo's four starts in the Mile High City have all ended in defeat for his clubs with his ERA at a nice fat 8.83.
Pomeranz is still looking for his first home win in five starts at Coors this year. The Rockies managed to win two of those outings, but the rookie southpaw didn't factor in either decision. Seven tries over his short career at home have yielded just one dubya for Pomeranz, and that came in his major league debut last September when he tossed five shutout innings against the Reds.
A biceps injury, along with Padres hitters, stopped his last start after Pomeranz had thrown only 53 pitches. He was charged with seven runs in the 9-5 setback at San Diego, and is reportedly free of pain after a bullpen session earlier this week.
Colorado has a long list of players on the disabled list, but is expected to get 1B Todd Helton back for this set. The veteran has been out since before the All-Star Game with a hip injury, and the Rockies also lost 1B Jason Giambi to the DL recently due to a lingering virus. Michael Cuddyer has been manning first in their absence.
Cincinnati is also playing without its all-star first baseman since Joey Votto underwent left knee surgery shortly after the midseason break. Votto is expected to be out until mid-August, with Todd Frazier and Miguel Cairo filling in at the right corner of the infield.
The Reds took two of three from the Rockies in Cincinnati back in late-May, all three games going 'over' the total. Colorado owns a 49-29 advantage at home in the all-time series, taking two of three played in Denver last year and 12 of the last 13 tilts at Coors Field.