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Snow could shake up Rockies' plans

Snow could shake up Rockies' plans

DENVER -- The decision to move Saturday night's Game 3 of the National League Division Series to Sunday night could make it decision time for Rockies manager Jim Tracy.

The pitching is set for Sunday, with Rockies right-hander Jason Hammel set to face Phillies rookie left-hander J.A. Happ, who replaces playoff veteran Pedro Martinez. The Rockies have faced Happ in two regular-season games, once as a starter, and have no runs, five hits, two walks and 11 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings against the southpaw.

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But neither team has set a Game 4 starter for Monday. With the series currently tied at 1, one of the teams will have a chance to end it by Monday, while the other will be vying to stay alive.

Tracy has two accomplished choices for Game 4. Will it be Ubaldo Jimenez, the team's Game 1 starter and the ace of the second half, or Jason Marquis, who carried the rotation for much of the team's slow beginning to the season?

The Rockies' recent practice suggests Jimenez. Late in the regular season, Tracy tweaked the team's pitching schedule so that Jimenez would start key games against the Giants, Cardinals and Dodgers.

"It does bring Ubaldo back into play, since he'll be on his normal day, but I haven't made any decisions yet," Tracy said. "Our whole focus is on Game 3, trying to win that one."

Jimenez would be able to start on regular rest. He was strong and efficient early in Game 1, but began leaving pitches over the plate in the bottom of the fifth, when he gave up two runs. A Ryan Howard RBI double and a Jayson Werth RBI triple made it 5-0 in the sixth before Jimenez left the game.

Jimenez has not had the best of luck against the Phillies in his career. He is 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA in the regular season, and his Game 1 start went from good to bad. But there was the start of Oct. 6, 2007, when Jimenez held the Phils to one run and three hits in 6 1/3 innings. He didn't figure in the decision, but the Rockies won, 2-1, to complete a three-game sweep.

Marquis almost certainly would have received the start had the series stayed on schedule. Marquis earned a trip to the All-Star Game with a strong first half, but he struggled with his sinker in the final six weeks and ended up 15-13 with a 4.04 ERA.

POSTSEASON POSTPONEMENTS
Since Wild Card era began in 1995
Year Game Matchup
1996 ALCS, Gm. 1 BAL at NYY
WS, Gm. 1 ATL at NYY
2003 ALCS, Gm. 4 NYY at BOS
2004 ALCS, Gm. 3 NYY at BOS
2005 ALCS, Gm. 4 LAA at NYY
2006 ALDS, Gm. 2 DET at NYY
NLCS, Gm. 1 STL at NYM
NLCS, Gm. 5 NYM at STL
2008 WS, Gm. 5* TB at PHI
2009 NLDS, Gm. 3 PHI at COL
2009 ALCS, Gm. 6 LAA at NYY
*- Rain forced the suspension of Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. The game was completed two days later.

Marquis has made one NLDS appearance, throwing a scoreless inning of relief during the Rockies' 5-1 loss in Game 1 at Citizens Bank Park.

Marquis won his only regular-season start against the Phillies. It was April 10, his first start in a Rockies uniform.

Marquis went seven innings and gave up two runs. He also singled and scored against Cole Hamels in the third inning.

Colorado also might have to deal with a difficult opponent in Game 4. Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee, who held the Rockies scoreless until the ninth inning and retired 16 straight during Game 1, also will be on regular rest.

The Game 3 decision to start Happ, who was hit on the left shin by a Seth Smith line drive during Game 2 but ruled well enough to start, and the possibility of Lee going in Game 4 fit with the Phillies' preference for facing the Rockies with primarily left-handed pitching.

After Game 2, there was question about the health of Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who was hit on the upper body by a pitch from Phillies reliever Brett Myers in the eighth inning. Tracy said the concern is unfounded.

"The way he hit the ball during batting practice yesterday, that's a non-issue," Tracy said.

Even with all the changes that have come with the postponement Saturday, Tracy said it was good, not only for now, but for the future.

"Playing in the cold is one thing," Tracy said. "But playing in cold, wet, damp conditions can be dangerous. What happens if you get a key player hurt. Not only could it affect you for the day, meaning the day of the game, but it could carry into 2010 and affect an entire organization as it makes its 2010 plans. They've done the one thing that's fair."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["division_series" ] }
{"content":["division_series" ] }