Notes: Playing the percentage game
Hurdle sends back-to-back lefties to kick off NLDS vs. Phils
PHILADELPHIA -- The Rockies are playing the percentages against the Phillies in the National League Division Series by sending Jeff Francis to start Wednesday's Game 1 and fellow lefty Franklin Morales to start Thursday's Game 2.
The Phillies finished the regular season 26-26 when the opponent started a left-hander, 63-47 against righties.
The Rockies are 2-1 in games against the Phils started by Francis and Morales. Francis hasn't fared well, posting a 15.12 ERA. But the Rockies won one of the two starts against the Phillies, 7-6 on July 6 at Coors Field. The Phils beat Francis at Citizens Bank Park, 12-4, on Sept. 13.
Morales, 21, earned his first Major League victory at Citizens Bank Park on Sept. 11 by holding the Phillies to no runs and three hits as the Rockies won, 8-2, at Citizens Bank Park.
Decisions, decisions: Noting that the Rockies don't have to lock their series roster until Wednesday at 8 a.m. MT, manager Clint Hurdle did not announce his final decisions. Hurdle has not announced a starter for Saturday at Coors Field, and said the club was still discussing bullpen and bench strategies.
Recent callup Seth Smith, a left-handed-hitting outfielder, has made a case for himself by going 5-for-8 as a pinch-hitter. That includes a triple, which he hit off the Padres' Jake Peavy before scoring a run in the 9-8, 13-inning decision in the NL Wild Card tiebreaker.
"He's had some very pivotal at-bats for us," Hurdle said. "You need to set up your bench to give you the greatest strengths that it can give you."
Other young players that are candidates for the NLDS roster are infielders Omar Quintanilla and Clint Barmes, first baseman Joe Koshansky and catcher Edwin Bellorin.
Off to Tucson: Center fielder Willy Taveras is close to being ready after being out since suffering a right quadriceps injury on Sept. 8, but he will not be on the NLDS roster because he hasn't faced live pitching. So the Rockies have sent him to the fall instructional league in Tucson in hopes of having him ready for the NL Championship Series should the club advance.
"He's got to go play some games," Hurdle said. "He [has] to play and get some at-bats and play some games and do all the things he needs to do. He needs to show himself [as well as us] that he's good to go. We don't need a Willy Taveras at 80 percent right now. That's not his game."
Also in instructional ball are right-handers Aaron Cook, out since August with an oblique strain, and righty Jason Hirsh, who suffered a fractured fibula in August. Infielder Ian Stewart, right-hander Elmer Dessens and left-hander Josh Newman went to instructional ball as well.
Healthy Holliday: Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday, who won the NL batting and RBI titles, was left bloodied and dazed after scoring the winning run in a collision at home plate on Monday, but Hurdle said he should be fine for Wednesday.
Holliday's face crashed into Padres catcher Michael Barrett's shin guard, and his hand was spiked. He also was woozy enough to be attended to on the field before he joined the celebration.
"I don't anticipate anything," Hurdle said. "He was on the plane. I spoke with him last night. He's got a nice medal of honor on his chin that he'll be sporting the next couple of weeks."
Points elsewhere: Hurdle said one of the toughest parts of Monday night was telling guys after the celebration that they would not be a prt of the team in the postseason. Relief pitchers Ramon Ortiz, who pitched the 13th inning and received the win, Denny Bautista, Juan Morillo and Dan Serafini all received the bad news.
"Think about the irony of having Ramon Ortiz get the win in that game, and then having to tell him at the end," Hurdle said. "It was the best inning he threw for us."
How's he doing? A bullpen decision could involve right-handed reliever Jorge Julio, who gave up a two-run homer to the Padres' Scott Hairston in the top of the 13th on Monday night, and also yielded an RBI single to tie the previous game, which the Rockies also won.
Julio, who was up in the seventh inning and five more times, revealed after the game that he has been suffering from neck pain.
National League Division Series schedule
|Wed., Oct. 3||10 p.m.||Chase Field||TBS|
|Thu., Oct. 4||10 p.m.||Chase Field||TBS|
|Sat. Oct. 6||6 p.m.||Wrigley Field||TBS|
|*Sun. Oct. 7||1 p.m.||Wrigley Field||TNT|
|*Tue. Oct. 9||10 p.m.||Chase Field||TBS|
|Wed., Oct. 3||3 p.m.||Citizens Bank Park||TBS|
|Thu., Oct. 4||3 p.m.||Citizens Bank Park||TBS|
|Sat. Oct. 6||9:30 p.m.||Coors Field||TBS|
|*Sun. Oct. 7||10 p.m.||Coors Field||TBS|
|*Tue. Oct. 9||6:30 p.m.||Citizens Bank Park||TBS|
|* If necessary. All times ET.|
"I got some treatment early and I did feel better," Julio said. "I wanted to throw in the game. Sometimes it happens. But we're going to the playoffs, so I'm happy. I love these guys and love this team."
Hurdle said he was not aware of an injury.
Matsui on top: The Phillies are starting left-hander Cole Hamels in Game 1, which could be a challenge for switch-hitting leadoff man Kazuo Matsui, whom Hurdle confirmed would be starting.
Matsui has not played a huge amount against lefties this season, batting .271 in 70 at-bats. The swings have been wild. According to STATS Inc., Matsui had an 8-for-24 (.333, plus a .407 on-base percentage and .458 slugging percentage) surge against lefties during August.
Matsui starting, however, means the Rockies have the opportunity to hold right-handed-hitting Jamey Carroll for late-game pinch-running and defense -- the role he has filled late in the regular season.
Atkins turnaround: Third baseman Garrett Atkins finished with a .301 batting average. Yes, that's 28 points lower than last season, but it marked a remarkable turnaround from a slow start.
STATS Inc. notes that Atkins' 90-point differential between his pre-All-Star break work (.259) and after the break (.349) was second-highest in baseball. The Pirates' Jack Wilson hit 96 points higher after the break than before.
Behind Atkins, the next-greatest jump, pre- to post-break, among Rockies regulars belonged to Todd Helton, 14 points.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.