National League Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, July 21 (All times Eastern)
Washington Nationals (53-43) at Colorado Rockies (40-58), 8:40 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Washington - Doug Fister (8-2, 2.90) Colorado - Franklin Morales (5-4, 5.26)
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Nationals will try to maintain their spot atop the National League East standings on Monday night when they enter Coors Field for the opener of a three-game set with the Colorado Rockies.
Washington entered the day neck and neck with the Atlanta Braves for the NL East lead. The Nationals have won four of their last five games, including Sunday's dramatic, 5-4 triumph over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Jayson Werth was the hero in that one as he delivered a walk-off double off Rob Wooten with two outs and a runner on first in the bottom of the ninth inning. Nationals closer Rafael Soriano blew a save opportunity in the top of the frame when he gave up an RBI single to Rickie Weeks.
"Any time you get a walk-off win, it's big for team morale," reliever Craig Stammen said after the game. "Hopefully, it will send us on a nice winning streak."
Monday's opener marks the start of a nine-game road trip for the Nats.
Meanwhile, Colorado has lost five straight after Sunday's 5-3 setback in Pittsburgh. For the third consecutive game, the Rockies coughed up a late lead as reliever Matt Belisle allowed a go-ahead single to Andrew McCutchen in the bottom of the seventh and then a home run by Neil Walker. Belisle took two losses during the three-game series and has given up seven runs over his last four appearances (four innings).
"The mark of a champion and a winner is how you're doing when you're not doing well, and I pride myself in coming to the park being prepared every day and being an example of that," Belisle said. "I am at peace knowing I do everything I can every day. I have to control what I can, but this business is about results and I am the first to abide by that."
The Rockies own the worst record in the NL and have a few banged up players. All-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki sat out Sunday after leaving Saturday's game early with cramping in his left thigh. First baseman Justin Morneau missed his third straight start with a strained neck and remains day-to-day. Outfielder Charlie Blackmon also got Sunday off after turning his ankle the previous night.
Colorado hopes to get a solid start from Franklin Morales, who has been largely hit or miss with a 5.26 ERA in 22 games (13 starts) this season. The left-hander is coming off a win over San Diego on July 8, as he went 5 2/3 innings and allowed only one earned run on four hits while striking out six and walking three.
For Washington, Doug Fister eyes up his third win in as many starts. He earned his team-best eighth victory on July 9 at Baltimore by pitching seven innings of two-run ball. Like Morales, Fister will try to overcome a lengthy layoff and pick up right where he left off before the All-Star break.
"You worry about guys getting too much time, anybody, and losing their rhythm and timing out there," manager Matt Williams said. "But that's the nature of the game. And that's the nature of the break. So there's not much we can do about it except do what everybody else is doing: slot 'em in and let 'em go."
Fister faced Colorado on July 2 and gave up three earned runs over seven innings of a 4-3 victory. Washington swept that three-game set at Nationals Park.
07/21 10:43:28 ET