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News » Astros-Rockies Preview 2009-05-14

Astros-Rockies Preview 2009-05-14

Astros-Rockies Preview 2009-05-14
Inconsistent performances plagued Wandy Rodriguez in his first four major league seasons. He appears to have solved those issues in 2009, becoming the Houston Astros' most reliable starter.

Coming off his longest outing of the season, Rodriguez looks for his third consecutive win as the Astros face the Colorado Rockies in the finale of their three-game road set on Thursday.

Rodriguez (3-2, 1.80 ERA) went 37-40 with a 4.79 ERA in 111 games over the last four years, including a 15-22 mark and 5.61 ERA in 54 games - 47 starts - on the road.

This season, the left-hander finally appears to be establishing himself as a consistent force, allowing one run or less in five of his seven starts while posting the third-best ERA in baseball. He also leads Houston (15-18) with 37 strikeouts in 45 innings and has not given up a homer.

Rodriguez's impressive season has also come with Astros ace Roy Oswalt struggling with a 1-2 record and 4.50 ERA in eight starts.

"The difference this year is just the maturity," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "There was a time when he would let things get away if something went wrong. He'd balk and then he'd lose focus. But now he just calms down."

Rodriguez was outstanding again on Friday, scattering five hits with seven strikeouts in a season-high eight innings while retiring 16 in a row at one point in a 2-0 win over San Diego.

"He just pitched a terrific game," Cooper said. "It really shows me a lot. He is becoming a big-time, big-league pitcher. He looked like he was totally in command. His curveball was pretty good. He didn't have a whole lot of deep counts. I thought Wandy was efficient with his pitches and that's what you have to do to stay deep in ballgames."

Rodriguez is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA in his last four starts against the Rockies (13-19).

He'll try to help Houston build on Wednesday's 15-11 win over Colorado, during which the Astros collected 24 hits - one shy of the club record reached twice in 1976.

The Astros weren't as productive at the plate in Tuesday's series opener, getting eight hits in a 12-1 loss.

The Rockies will give Jason Hammel (0-1, 5.40) his first start against Houston as he looks to rebound from one of his worst performances of the season.

The right-hander gave up six runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings of an 8-3 loss to Florida on Friday. That performance came five days after he scattered six hits in six scoreless innings of a 1-0, 10-inning defeat at San Francisco.

"I had too many hittable pitches," Hammel said. "I gave up a lot of hits on fastballs. Both of the home runs were on fastballs above the belt."

The Rockies could be without Troy Tulowitzki after he was forced to leave Wednesday's contest in the seventh inning due to a contusion on his left elbow from being hit by a pitch. The shortstop is expected to be evaluated Thursday.

Tulowitzki went 0 for 3 on Wednesday after going 8 for 15 with two homers and four RBIs in his previous four games.

The Astros, though, will likely have Ivan Rodriguez back in the lineup after he was given Wednesday off. He's one home run shy of becoming the seventh catcher to reach 300 in a career.

Ivan Rodriguez is 5 for 7 with a homer and three RBIs in the last two games.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 14, 2009

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