Rockies host Phillies in a tale of opposites

Field Level Media

May 24, 2024 at 11:46 am.

The Philadelphia Phillies are off to the best start in their history while the Colorado Rockies are off to a historically bad one.

The two opposite beginnings will collide when the Phillies visit Denver for a three-game weekend series beginning Friday night.

The Phillies will send Cristopher Sanchez (2-3, 3.31 ERA) to the mound against Colorado’s Ty Blach (1-2, 5.14) in a battle of left-handers in the opener.

Philadelphia is coming off a 7-1 homestand that finished with a sweep of the World Series champion Texas Rangers, the seventh time the Phillies have swept a series this season. Philadelphia has won six games in a row and is 17-3 in May and 37-14 overall.

The only thing worrying manager Rob Thomson is complacency, but even that isn’t a big concern.

“I don’t think so, not with this group …,” Thomson said after Thursday’s 5-2 win over Texas. “And the people that we’ve brought in have joined in on that motivation. I think we’ve got a really good group.”

The Phillies have scored runs, but they’ve also gotten strong starting pitching in going 29-6 over their last 35 games.

Sanchez will take the mound in a ballpark suited for hitting, not pitching. He has made two starts against the Rockies in his career, with the most recent one coming April 17. He allowed a run on six hits and struck out 10 in six innings to walk away with the win in his team’s 7-6 victory.

Overall, he is 1-0 with a 3.48 ERA in his career against the Rockies. He has yet to pitch at Coors Field in Denver.

Colorado (16-33) has had a different experience this spring. The Rockies started the season 8-28 but then reeled off seven straight wins, including series sweeps against the Rangers and San Diego Padres followed by a four-game skid.

They are coming home from a road trip of nine games in 11 days with a sour taste after blowing a 9-5 lead in the 11th inning to lose 10-9 on a bases-loaded walk to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.

One Colorado player who enjoyed a good trip is Ryan McMahon, who was 11-39 (.282) away from home. He homered in three straight games before being held hitless in five at-bats Thursday. McMahon leads the team in hits (56), RBIs (30) and home runs (nine) in his eighth season.

At 29, he has become a leader for the younger players during a difficult season.

“I know what it’s like to feel like I’m not sure I belong here, things like that, so I try to be available for questions and to let them know they are part of the team,” McMahon said.

Any chance the Rockies have to slow the Phillies hinges on the starting pitcher. Blach will make his seventh appearance this season and fourth start — third since joining the rotation on May 12.

His most recent start, which came Saturday against the San Francisco Giants, was not a success. He gave up six runs on seven hits in three innings of his team’s 14-4 loss.

Blach has faced Philadelphia six times — three starts — in his career and is 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA.