|Rockies look to stay hot against Nationals|
The Colorado Rockies will try to continue being rude hosts to the National League East when they open a three-game series against the Washington Nationals on Monday night.
Colorado (9-13) took three of four from the Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend and has won six of seven overall.
The Rockies continue to get strong pitching, and Sunday it was from Jon Gray, who pitched six scoreless innings in a 4-1 win. Coming off a seven-inning, one-run effort against the Padres, Gray (2-3) allowed one hit. He struck out five and walked four while lowering his ERA to 2.78.
Colorado starters have pitched six innings or more while allowing two hits or fewer five times this season.
"Those guys are really good," right fielder Charlie Blackmon told the Denver Post about the rotation. "We didn't do a whole lot of great stuff today ... outside of Jon Gray dominating them. He just went out and shut them down, and he put us on his back and kind of won the game for us. That's not uncommon as of late."
Blackmon did his part, going 3-for-4 with a triple to finish the series 10-for-18, but the Rockies are struggling at the plate. They're 24th in the big leagues with a .223 batting average and 28th in on-base percentage (.282), though they've improved those numbers of late.
"It's still very early, but before you know it, you've played 50 games and you're still saying, 'It's early,"' hitting coach Dave Magadan told the Post.
"So we understand that it's not panic around here, it's not completely changing how we do things, but that there is a sense of urgency."
The Rockies banged out 10 hits on Sunday but left 11 men on base and squandered a couple of chances to break the game open late.
Colorado hasn't announced Monday's starter, but the expectation is that left-hander Tyler Anderson (0-2, 11.00 ERA) will be reinstated from the injured list and start against Washington.
Anderson pitched nine innings prior to being placed on the injured list with inflammation in his right knee. He's 1-0 with a 2.50 ERA in three starts against the Nationals for his career.
Washington (10-10) travels west after salvaging the finale of a three-game series with a 5-0 win Sunday in Miami against the Marlins.
Stephen Strasburg (2-1) struck out 11 batters and allowed two hits in eight innings for Washington, Ryan Zimmerman hit two solo home runs, and Brian Dozier also had a solo homer.
Strasburg threw 104 pitches in his longest outing this season. He reached double digits in strikeouts for the first time this year, while lowering his ERA from 5.56 to 4.11 and helping Washington avoid being swept by the last-place Marlins.
"Outstanding," manager Dave Martinez told the Washington Post. "That's the word to describe what he did today. Unbelievable pick-me-up."
Washington won without slugger Anthony Rendon, who sat out after being hit by a pitch on the left elbow Saturday. Martinez said he's optimistic his third baseman won't need to go on the injured list after an X-ray revealed no fracture.
Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (2-0, 2.63) starts against the Rockies. He is coming off a strong effort against the San Francisco Giants in which he allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
"I thought it was pretty good," Hellickson told the Post after the start. "Command was a little shaky there for a couple batters but made pitches when I needed to."
He's 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two starts against the Rockies.
--Field Level Media