MLB: Rockies looking to close out homestand with victory over Nationals
April is normally a volatile weather month for outdoor baseball in Denver but the first week of May has proven to be a bit of a challenge.
Tuesday and Wednesday were colder and wetter than usual for the first two games of Colorado’s home series against the Washington Nationals but Thursday’s getaway game promises to be more seasonal.
The Rockies can make it a sunny homestand if they beat Washington and finish 5-1 at Coors Field this past week.
The Nationals won the first game of the series, 10-2 on Tuesday night, and Colorado bounced back with a 5-2 win on Wednesday night.
For the rubber game, Washington will send Aaron Sanchez (1-1, 6.75 ERA) against Antonio Senzatela (2-1, 3.66) in a matchup of righties.
Sanchez is looking for his first win of the season in a ballpark where he has pitched well in the past. Overall he is 1-1 with 4.37 ERA against the Rockies in four starts over his career, with three of those starts and both decisions coming at Coors Field. He has a 4.50 ERA in Denver.
The Nationals missed a chance for their first three-game winning streak with the loss Wednesday night. They hope to have slugger Nelson Cruz back in the lineup after he sat out Wednesday’s loss with back stiffness. He was lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning Tuesday night.
One of the bright spots in a tough start to the season is the bat of Josh Bell. He slugged his third home run of the season in Tuesday’s win and he has hit the ball hard all year. Despite going 0-for-4 in Wednesday’s game, he is batting .349.
“Realistically, I’m just trying to hit low, hard line drives every at-bat,” Bell said. “If the pitch is elevated, then I’ll do damage with it. But if it’s not, I don’t want to bury it into the ground.”
Bell’s challenge Thursday will be Senzatela, who is coming off a strong outing against Cincinnati on Friday. Senzatela pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed one run to get his second win of the season.
He will make his fourth career appearance and second start against Washington on Thursday. He is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in his previous three outings against the Nationals.
Senzatela has seemingly tamed hitter-friendly Coors Field over the past calendar year. He has not been tagged with a loss at home since May 11, 2021, and in 13 starts in Denver since that last loss he is 4-0 with a 3.12 ERA.
His team is 10-3 in the 13 games he has pitched at Coors Field since May 11 of last year. His work earned him a five-year, $50.5 million contract extension in the fall.
“We talk about the mentality, each and every time you start a game,” Colorado manager Bud Black said after Senzatela’s last start. “For him, and I think all of our guys, it’s about having the right stuff to pitch here. His stuff plays here.
“He’s learned to use his stuff and he’s outpitched the other starter here, and that’s something we talk about.”
–Field Level Media