The Colorado Rockies have overcome a rough first month of the season to creep back toward respectability, and they have a chance to keep it going Thursday afternoon.
Colorado is 12-9 since entering May having lost 20 of its first 29 games. The Rockies can win another series when they wrap up a four-game home set against the Miami Marlins.
The Rockies will send Kyle Freeland (4-5, 3.88 ERA) to the mound while Miami counters with Braxton Garrett (1-2, 4.60) in a matchup of left-handers.
Colorado won the first two games of the series before the Marlins rebounded with a 10-2 victory on Wednesday.
Freeland should be rested after tossing just two innings in a forgettable start in Texas on Saturday. Freeland allowed eight runs -- five earned -- on nine hits in an 11-5 loss, a step back for him after four straight starts in which he allowed three runs or fewer.
He had been particularly sharp over his previous three outings. Freeland had two starts which he didn't allow a run and he was a hard-luck loser in the other, allowing two runs over seven innings of a 2-0 loss at Pittsburgh.
Freeland has emerged as the Rockies' ace after German Marquez was lost for the season to Tommy John surgery. He has shown the ability to pitch well after tough games and to give Colorado quality starts and a chance to win.
"He's a veteran pitcher now and it shows in the emotional state, the mental state that he's in," manager Bud Black said recently. "He knows who he is as a pitcher. He can have a rough game and then bounce back."
Freeland has pitched well in five career outings, three starts, against Miami, going 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA.
Garrett has a chance to give the Marlins a series split with a good outing in the getaway game. He has faced the Rockies twice in his young career, going 0-1 with a 3.12 ERA over 8 2/3 innings.
If he can get the kind of run support Miami produced on Wednesday, then Garrett has a chance to get his first win against Colorado. The Marlins posted a season-high run total and got home runs from Jorge Soler and Jonathan Davis. They put up 14 hits, four by Yuli Gurriel.
Miami's leading hitter, Luis Arraez, said batting in the thin air doesn't always mean success for hitters.
"Baseballs are hard to hit," he said. "Everybody says that Colorado is good for hitting, but I don't think so -- you're still facing big league pitchers, and you're trying to do the job, but you don't do it every time -- especially me. We're human. We've just got to continue to play hard."
Arraez leads the majors in batting with a .371 average, but he could be sidelined for the last game of the series. He left the Wednesday game in the seventh inning due to left leg cramps, a common issue for players coming to play at altitude.
The Marlins announced that Arraez's exit was a precautionary move, so the ailment is not expected to be a problem moving forward.
--Field Level Media