The Washington Nationals (31-31) are heading west to face the Colorado Rockies (34-30) after just completing a doubleheader sweep in what was possibly one of the most encouraging displays of offense they have put together all season.
They will now have the opportunity to keep their bats hot and their winning streak rolling in the hitter-friendly home of the Rockies.
In their most recent series against the Minnesota Twins, the Nationals took a more aggressive approach, which resulted in a more confident, healthier-looking offense, and Colorado could be just the place to keep that spark glowing.
As Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post pointed out yesterday, the Nationals were hitting a mediocre .238/.304/.387 going into their first faceoff with the Rockies last year, but saw their offense come alive in Colorado. They scored 12, 11 and 10 runs in each game of the series, and they continued to dominate offensively through June and the remainder of the season.
For a team that has struggled all season with keeping offensive momentum going, there are few better places than Colorado for them to visit at this point in the season to try to repeat history.
Trouble With The Long Ball
The home run ball has been dilemma for Dan Haren this year, and it is about to challenge him in probably the last ballpark Nats fans would choose to see him pitch: Coors Field.
In 12 starts this season, Haren has given up 15 home runs, which leads the National League. As a team, the Rockies have hit the third-most home runs in baseball (83), and have hit 16 already in June. Over half of their home runs have been hit out of Coors Field, which is a park renowned for its tendency to let baseballs escape the confines of its walls.
Needless to say, the series opener when Haren faces off against Jhoulys Chacin, who has given up only two home runs all season, could be an interesting one, and Haren will certainly not want to leave any balls up in the zone for a team that knows how to hit them, and hit them far.
Although it has not been officially announced, pitcher Ross Detwiler is expected to be back in the starting rotation on Thursday after making his final rehab start at Class A Potomac. Detwiler has been on the disabled list with a strained oblique, retroactive to May 16, and his return to the rotation will do nothing but help the injury-riddled Nationals.
In The Zone
Ian Desmond (SS) .340 AVG, .354 OBP .553 SLG, 2 HR, 7 RBI (12-game hitting streak)
Troy Tulowitzki (SS) .480 AVG, .552 OBP, 1.040 SLG, 4 HR, 8 RBI (last six games)
Carlos Gonzalez (LF) .240 AVG, .321 OBP, .800 SLG, 3 HR, 12 RBI (last six games)
Eric Young (RF) .136 AVG, .174 OBP, .136 SLG, 5 SO (last six games)
Wilin Rosario (C) .133 AVG, .133 OBP, .400 SLG, 5 SO (last four games)
6/11, Dan Haren (4-7, 5.45 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 53 SO) vs. Jhoulys Chacin (3-3, 4.59 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 43 SO)
6/12, TBA vs. Jorge De La Rosa (7-3, 3.38 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 48 SO)
6/13, Ross Detwiler (2-4, 2.76 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 23 SO) vs. TBA