06/21/11 8:33 PM EST
Rockies' offense finally getting in sync
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
After underachieving for much of the season, especially during an 8-21 month of May, the Rockies have produced four five-run innings and two six-run innings in 11 games leading up to Tuesday night's tilt with the Indians.
Part of it is getting the hot steaks of the club's top players in sync. Leadoff man Carlos Gonzalez has hits in 12 of his past 13 games, entering Tuesday, and is 23-for-57 (.404) during that stretch. Todd Helton, who moved from fifth to third in the lineup when manager Jim Tracy put Gonzalez atop the order, hit .322 with three home runs in his first 17 June games. Cleanup man Troy Tulowitzki entered Tuesday on a six-game hit streak (9-for-25, four doubles). Ty Wigginton has hit .300 with five home runs since May 24. Seth Smith doubled on 11 of his past 23 hits.
Add the contributions of a couple of recent callups to the starting lineup -- second baseman Chris Nelson (.274 in 18 games before Tuesday) and left fielder Charlie Blackmon (.354 in 13 games), and there is a potent offense.
"It's extremely encouraging," Tracy said. "I think we have a very competent offense. What we're seeing right now is what we were seeing over the course of the month of April. We're picking up a bunch of big hits. They disappeared in May and they weren't really there to any type of consistency in the early part of June.
"We're getting good pitches to swing at and we're forcing the opposing pitchers to put the ball in the strike zone."
Lindstrom still working to snap mini-slump
CLEVELAND -- Monday night ended with a much-needed zero in the run column for Matt Lindstrom. But he still hasn't conquered all of the issues that have led to a seven-game mini-slump.
Lindstrom has given up 15 hits in his past seven appearances, covering 6 1/3 innings. He also has yielded six runs in that time.
The right-hander forced a Grady Sizemore double-play grounder to escape the sixth inning of the Rockies' 8-7 victory over the Indians on Monday night. But Lindstrom was not happy with the previous at-bat, when Lou Marson kept the inning going with a single to center. Lindstrom had two strikes, but he didn't come near the strike zone with two consecutive sliders. He had to go with the fastball, and Marson connected.
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Lindstrom (2-1, 2.73 ERA) says he is trying improve his location and become less predictable.
"I used both of my fastballs and threw a good two-seamer to Sizemore to get the double play, but it was the same thing -- I got to two strikes and had a couple of chances to put him away with my slider or something else," Lindstrom said. "He ended up getting the count full and getting a base hit.
"It's being able to put hitters away when you get ahead of them like that, and not letting them back into fastball counts. Something was brought to my attention by one of the guys in the clubhouse about being predictable, and that I need to be unpredictable."
Manager Jim Tracy said the encouraging sign is that Lindstrom's fastball is going through the zone at 97 mph with movement, but he could enhance his effectiveness with better pitch selection.
"It's not so much predictable, but it's making the wrong choice," Tracy said. "He's done a terrific job of getting ahead in the count in a number of situations. I'll go back to the series against Detroit, the bases-loaded at-bat when [Ryan] Raburn hit the ball into the gap [for a two-run double].
"After he had gotten to two strikes very quickly and he threw a breaking ball in the dirt, I don't know, I guess he didn't think the guy was going to chase, but he had pitches to play with and he immediately went right back to the fastball against a guy who is a good fastball hitter, and put it in a bad spot."
Jonathan Herrera started at second base Tuesday in place of Chris Nelson. With manager Jim Tracy planning to rest first baseman Todd Helton on Wednesday -- so he'll have two days off before the series with the Yankees starting Friday -- Herrera will start again at second, Nelson will play third and Ty Wigginton will move from third to first.
Right-hander Esmil Rogers, who was placed on the disabled list after a May 1 appearance because of a strained right lat muscle and recalled from a Minor League injury rehab assignment because of a midsection strain, played catch at Coors Field on Tuesday. He'll have to build up to a throwing program before resuming rehab.
The Rockies' game times for Saturday and Sunday at Yankee Stadium have been set. Saturday's contest will begin at 11:05 a.m. MT and Sunday's game has been moved to 12:20 p.m. because of Old Timer's Day at Yankee Stadium. Both games will be available online via MLB.TV and Gameday Audio and broadcast on Root Sports and KOA 85 AM.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.