MIAMI -- When manager Jim Tracy was setting the lineup for Monday's series opener against the Marlins, he glanced down at the career splits of Rockies hitters against Miami lefty Mark Buehrle -- and he couldn't believe his eyes.
"I saw something I've never seen before in 11 years -- that one guy in our lineup tonight has 104 at-bats against the starting pitcher," Tracy said. "I thought it was a misprint at first. I thought it was a misprint, but this definitely connotates history."
That hitter, of course, was right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who has fared well against Buehrle during his career, while Cuddyer played with the Twins and Buehrle with the White Sox.
Entering Monday, Cuddyer had hit .317 with three homers, 10 doubles and 11 RBIs when facing the veteran southpaw. The 104 at-bats are the most among any Rockies player against Buehrle, with the next closest being catcher Ramon Hernandez, who had faced the lefty 39 times.
Cuddyer's track record against Miami's soft-throwing veteran, combined with a 3-for-4 effort Sunday to break a 0-for-13 slump, was enough to convince Tracy to move Cuddyer into the cleanup spot, dropping Troy Tulowitzki to fifth in the order and Todd Helton to sixth. The move paid dividends early, with Cuddyer hitting a two-run double off Buehrle in the first inning Monday. Tulowitzki followed with a two-run homer.
The lineup change marked the fourth time Cuddyer has batted cleanup, and the Rockies are 2-1 in the previous three games. Despite the offense sputtering during the last few games, the club ranked seventh in the Majors in runs scored, and Tracy admitted he didn't want to make any "astounding" changes to the lineup, only subtle ones.
Colorado's skipper was also noncommittal when asked if batting Cuddyer cleanup was just for Monday, or if he would see how it plays out and consider it as a long-term change.
"If our club is going to jell offensively, it's not by me tinkering with the lineup every single day," Tracy said. "It's just an opportunity to give some guys the chance to relax a little bit and go out there and do their thing, and hopefully the waters will settle and offensively we can get to where we want to be."