The visiting Colorado Rockies will go for their sixth straight win when they finish a three-game series at the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
The Rockies (70-78) are 7-1 on their nine-game trip that also took them through Philadelphia (3-1) and Atlanta (2-0).
Right-hander Jon Gray (8-10, 4.16) will try to help the earn the sweep. Since his brief stint on the injured list with forearm tightness, Gray is 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts. Last time out he gave up two runs on five hits in five innings and picked up his first win since July 30.
Gray won despite getting hit on his index finger during a second-inning bunt attempt.
“It hurt like heck, but it didn’t swell up,” Gray said. “Nothing bad. It just kind of got stiff as the night went on. Really lucky there.”
Right-hander Paolo Espino (4-5, 4.18) pitches for Washington (60-88). Espino has allowed two earned runs or fewer in three of his past four starts.
Last time out he had the misfortune of matching up against Miami’s Sandy Alcantara, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Espino took the loss despite giving up just a first-inning run in six frames, his longest start of the season. He walked three and struck out six on 91 pitches.
“I think the first inning, I think I was thinking too much,” Espino said. “I was throwing too much around the plate. From that second inning on, I think (catcher Keibert Ruiz) and I were pretty much synced a little quicker. We had a lot better pace throughout the game after that first inning.”
Brendan Rogers and Trevor Story homered to back the solid pitching of Kyle Freeland in the Rockies’ 6-0 win on Saturday. The Rockies are averaging 5.5 runs per game on the road trip.
Rogers (3-for-5) had his 30th multi-hit game of the season and has homered in consecutive games. In the last four games, he is 7-for-18 with a double, three home runs, seven RBIs, and five runs scored.
Story has five home runs over his last 10 games and has collected a hit in 15 of his last 18 games.
The Rockies are 51-44 since May 30.
“Obviously, you kind of think back and wish we played like this earlier,” Story said. “(But) I don’t think we’re going to live too much in the past there.”
The Nationals, who lost their third straight game, went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position as they were shut out for the second time this week.
“I think we fall behind, and we just start feeling all this pressure that we’ve got to drive in all the runs,” manager Dave Martinez said. “It’s a lot different when you’re ahead or things are rolling. The at-bats are a lot different. Now, when you fall behind, when you’re down 3-0 or 6-0, you want to be the guy to knock in all the runs.”
Juan Soto went 1-for-3 with a walk. With 14 games left in 2021, he is six walks shy of tying Bryce Harper’s Nationals’ franchise record 130 walks, set in 2018.
–Field Level Media