Zack Greinke and the Arizona Diamonbacks meet the Colorado Rockies on Friday. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
DENVER -- First place in the National League West will be at stake when the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies begin a three-game series Friday at Coors Field.
The Diamondbacks hold a half-game lead over the Rockies, who slipped into second place Thursday when they failed to sweep a three-game series at Cincinnati. Colorado gave up three runs in the eighth and ninth to force extra innings and lost 7-5 to the Reds in 13 innings.
The loss was the fifth in seven games for the Rockies (32-30), who have led in each of those defeats. The Diamondbacks (32-29) were off Thursday and began a six-game road trip by dropping two of three at San Francisco and are 13-16 on the road.
In Wednesday's 5-4 10-inning loss to the Giants Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt went 4-for-5. It was his first four-hit game since April 25, 2017, and followed a three-hit game, an indication Goldschmidt could finally be putting his prolonged slump to start the season behind him.
A five-time All-Star, Goldschmidt has hit safely in 10 of his past 12 games going 17-for-47 (.362) in that stretch with three homers and nine RBIs. That spree has raised Goldschmidt's average to .233 with eight homers and 22 RBIs. Coors Field is the right spot for Goldschmidt to stay hot, since he has hit .308/.401/.538 there in 52 games with 10 homers and 53 RBIs.
"The at-bats and swings are definitely better," Goldschmidt told reporters after Wednesday's game. "I don't know if I'd call it a groove. Definitely was a lot better, these last two days especially. ... I don't want to act like this is guaranteed to continue. It's been two good games."
Veteran outfielder Jon Jay is expected to be in uniform Friday for the Diamondbacks after being acquired Wednesday from Kansas City for two minor league pitchers. With outfielders A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza Jr. sidelined with injuries and just 4 1/2 games separating the five NL West clubs, the Diamondbacks made the move for Jay.
"We felt like where we are in the division right now, how the division is shaking out with almost all five teams sitting right on top of each other, we felt like every marginal move was going to matter, and it's certainly mattering right now," Arizona general manager Mike Hazen told reporters. "Given that there's still going to be sometime between when we get a full complement of that team that we put together in spring training back together again, we felt like this was too important to sort of pass up."
Zack Greinke (4-4, 3.44) will start for the Diamondbacks against German Marquez (4-5, 4.38). Greinke gave up one run in 6 2/3 innings Saturday against Miami to win for the first time since April 30. But in his past six starts, Greinke is 1-2, 2.41. He's 9-5, 3.85 in 26 games (25 starts) against the Rockies and 3-1, 4.14 in 10 games (nine starts) at Coors Field.
Marquez threw a career-high 114 pitches Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, gave up four tuns in six innings in a no-decision that became a 12-4 Rockies loss. Marquez is 2-0, 2.88 in his past four starts and is 0-3, 3.79 in eight games (seven starts) against Arizona.
Colorado's bullpen is next to last in the National League with a 5.12 ERA. And in the current 2-5 slide, the relievers are 0-5 with three blown saves and a 9.11 ERA. In particular, closer Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw and left-handers Mike Dunn and Chris Rusin have struggled lately.
"We are going through a very difficult time with a few guys right now, for sure," Rockies manager Bud Black told reporters after Thursday's loss. "We've just got to get to the point where these guys are returning to a track record of performance. Right now, it's not happening."