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Mexico City Series Preview: Colorado Rockies (7-19) vs. Houston Astros (7-19)

As part of the MLB World Tour, the Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros are heading south of the border to Mexico City to play a two-game set at Alfredo Harp Helú Stadium.

The Rockies have been predictably bad to begin the season as their offense has struggled and the pitching hasn’t been great. However, most of that is according to plan as the team tries to rebuild and figure out their next steps for the future. The Astros on the other hand are nowhere near where they thought they would be to begin the season. The perennial World Series contender is off to the worst start to a season in team history since 1969 as they deal with injuries and underperformance.

Both teams are looking for a spark as they head to a location 2,000 feet higher in elevation than the confines of Coors Field. Here are a few things to watch this weekend.

Pitching Probables

4/27: Cal Quantrill (0-2, 4.33 ERA) vs. Ronel Blanco (2-0, 1.33 ERA)

4/28: Austin Gomber (0-1, 4.32 ERA) vs. Framber Valdez (2.19 ERA)

Adios pelota

Coors Field is often considered an extremely hitter-friendly ballpark because of the mile-high elevation. Mexico City sits even higher with an altitude of 7,350 feet above sea level and produced some slug-worthy offense one year ago. The first game between the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants saw 11 home runs hit in a 16-11 Padres victory. The second game was much tamer with just four home runs, but 37 combined runs were scored in the two-game series with 49 total hits.

The environment could foster some good offensive vibes for two teams struggling offensively. The Astros’ dismal record is backed up by a similarly dismal run differential of -36. They come into the Mexico Series having lost five in a row, including a sweep at the hands of the Cubs.  The Astros have the 10th-best slugging percentage in the league which bodes well for them against the Rockies pitching staff.

The Rockies enter the series after splitting a home series with the Padres, including a come-from-behind victory on Thursday where they scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth. They too have struggled in the run differential department, especially in the first inning. They ranked 22nd in runs scored and have a .382 SLG, which is 17th in baseball. They have hit just 21 home runs as a team this season but the change in scenery could help out in that department.

Coors Field is 347 feet down the left-field line, 390 in the left-field power alley, 415 to center, 375 to the right-field power alley and 350 down the right-field line. In contrast, Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú is 325 down both lines and 400 to center. Expect runs plenty this weekend.

Avoiding history

For 26 consecutive games to begin the season, the Rockies have fallen behind at some point in the game. They are just two games away from tying the 1910 St. Louis Browns for most games trailed to begin the season in the modern era dating back to 1900. The Rockies have surrendered runs in the first inning in roughly 16 of their games this season and that has been the cause of most of their frustrations. If the Rockies hope to avoid making MLB history, they will need to score early and often and keep the bats of the Astros tamed.

Starting pitching matchups

Both teams will send some of their best to the mound for the weekend. After rough starts to the season, both Cal Quantrill and Austin Gomber have turned in solid performances, typically going five or six innings and allowing three runs or less. Their main struggles, as has been the case for the Rockies pitching staff as a whole, have been inefficient pitch counts because of walks. Walks will be something to keep an eye on as the offensive environment could easily cause problems for either team.

The Astros will send Ronel Blanco and Framber Valdez to the mound as the Astros rotation begins to solidify. The 30-year-old Blanco is off to an incredible start to the 2024 season as he tossed a no-hitter in his first start of the year at the beginning of April. Framber Valdez makes his first start since April 2 when he landed on the injured list with left elbow inflammation.

Doyle Rules

Brenton Doyle has made incredible strides as the plate for the Rockies this season. 2023 was highlighted by his incredible defense in center field that netted him the NL Gold Glove but his offense left plenty to be desired. He spent the final two months adjusting on the fly and began to see growth. This season, Doyle is batting .330/.371/.527 with three home runs. Strikeouts are still an issue for him and the rest of the Rockies offense, but Doyle proved to be an integral part of the Rockies comeback victory on Thursday, where he went 3-for-4 at the top of the lineup with a couple of stolen bases.

Hip Hip, Jose!

Franchise second-baseman Jose Altuve is once again proving why he is one the best hitters in baseball in 2024. In 26 games he’s batting .346/.407/.589 with six home runs at the top of the Astros lineup. The 33-year-old is still tapping into the fountain of youth and his impeccable plate discipline has helped set the stage for heavy hitters like Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez to do plenty of damage against opposing batters. The Astros offense starts and ends with the tone that Altuve sets and he is doing his job despite the overall struggles of the offense.







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