The Cincinnati Reds have found it difficult to string together road victories lately, but they'll have a shot at leaving town with a three-game road winning streak following Sunday's day-night doubleheader with the Colorado Rockies.
Cincinnati figures to like its chances of starting off well in the opener with Mat Latos on the hill.
A water main break outside of Coors Field prompted what was originally a 30-minute delay to Saturday night's third meeting of a four-game set between these teams. The Denver Office of Emergency Management requested that the game be postponed.
"We've done this before," Reds manager Bryan Price told MLB's official website, though he noted the reasoning for the doubleheader was a first for him. "Everybody is conditioned to this, a doubleheader."
The Reds (61-61) are hoping to carry the momentum over from a 3-2 victory Friday where they went ahead on a Kristopher Negron single in the ninth, his fourth in as many at-bats.
Cincinnati has won five of eight on the road - not overly impressive, but an improvement considering it had previously dropped nine in a row away from home. The Reds haven't won three straight on the road since a season-best five-game winning streak from June 25-29.
Latos (4-3, 2.95 ERA) has been sharp in his last three starts, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA. He was in line for a third straight victory Tuesday after holding Boston to one run and five hits over seven innings, but Cincinnati's bullpen faltered in a 3-2 defeat.
The right-hander has won four consecutive starts versus Colorado, including two straight at Coors Field in which he limited the Rockies to three runs in 16 2-3 innings.
Cincinnati might be missing a big bat to support Latos with Todd Frazier's status unclear. Frazier wasn't scheduled to start Saturday for the second straight game because of a sore lower back. He leads the team with 64 RBIs and had driven in one in four straight before going 0 for 4 in a 7-3 loss Thursday.
The Rockies (47-75) are set to retire Todd Helton's jersey prior to Sunday's opener, and would like to honor the five-time All-Star with a pair of victories, but they've failed to win consecutive games during a 4-15 stretch.
Michael Cuddyer's return figures to help a club averaging 3.7 runs in that span after previously scoring 4.7 per game on the season. Cuddyer, the league's reigning batting champ, was set to start in right field and bat second Saturday in his first contest since June 5 after being sidelined by a fractured left shoulder. He's 12 for 29 with six extra-base hits over his last seven games versus Cincinnati.
However, Colorado has to be concerned about Justin Morneau, who was scratched from Saturday's lineup with neck stiffness. Morneau is batting .406 over his last 17 games and .459 during a 10-game hitting streak.
The Rockies hope Jordan Lyles (6-1, 3.70) can knock off the Reds for a second time this year when he takes the mound opposite Latos. He was the winner in an 11-2 victory in Cincinnati on May 10 when he allowed two runs and four hits in six innings.
Colorado will follow with Yohan Flande (0-5, 5.36) in the nightcap with the left-hander still seeking his first major league victory. The rookie was solid Tuesday at San Diego despite taking a 4-1 defeat, limiting the Padres to two runs and four hits in six innings.
He's yet to settle in at Coors Field, however, surrendering 17 runs in 20 2-3 innings over four starts.
Dylan Axelrod will make his season debut and first-ever start for the Reds a day later than expected after originally being slated to go Saturday. Axelrod, who is getting a chance after Homer Bailey was placed on the disabled list earlier in the week, was acquired from the White Sox on July 17.
He's 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Louisville since being traded.
"I'm throwing the ball well," he told MLB's official website. "Everything feels like it's coming together mechanically and mentally. I have a lot of confidence right now."