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Rebuilding Rockies, Tigers look for success in new month


Five times between 2006 and 2014, the Detroit Tigers were a playoff team. They went to the World Series twice — losing both times — and reached the American League Championship Series twice more, but fans have endured a sub-.500 mark in eight of nine seasons since

Those fans have company in their misery — the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies have made the postseason twice in the past 14 seasons and had a winning record only once in the non-postseason years

That is the backdrop for the weekend series in Denver — two teams searching for a new formula for success. The Rockies won the opener of the three-game series on Friday, 8-5, and the teams will meet again on Saturday night in what could be a bullpen game

Neither team has announced a starter.

Detroit has acknowledged it is in a rebuild and has netted some high draft picks and other young pieces. The Tigers also have some veterans, such as catcher Eric Haase, who is in his fourth full season with them

Haase, after hitting 22 and 14 home runs in the past two seasons, respectively, has struggled this year. He is batting a career-low .218 and has just three home runs in 62 games.

Haase bats from the right side and would logically hit lefties well but is hitting just .180 against them this season. It is one reason manager AJ Hinch opted against using him as a pinch hitter in Texas on Thursday, but he did send him up against Rockies lefty Austin Gomber in the seventh inning Friday night. He reached on an error

“Obviously, we need to get Haasey going,” Hinch said. “He’s been super frustrated. His timing hasn’t looked right recently, and when you are late on fastballs and early on breaking balls, this is a tough league.”

The Tigers hope the new month brings them new success after a 9-18 mark in June. Because they play in the weak American League Central, the Tigers enter play Saturday just five games behind the Minnesota Twins for first place in the division. The Rockies are 16 1/2 games behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West

Colorado has some young players, too, and the most exciting of late has been 21-year-old shortstop Ezequiel Tovar. The rookie struggled out of the gate this season but is swinging a hot bat lately. He extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single and home run on Friday and raised his average to .269 after hitting .323 in June.

Add to that his great defense, and it looks as if Tovar has a chance to turn into a Colorado shortstop in the Troy Tulowitzki and Trevor Story class.

“What he’s done the last month, and what he’s done the last couple of weeks, statistically, says he’s in a good spot as far as his confidence, how he feels in the box, how he’s seeing the ball,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “A lot of good things are happening.

Tovar has shown poise even in high-leverage situations.

“My whole career, I’ve been that type of player, very calm,” Tovar said through an interpreter. “I’ll celebrate, but it’s not part of my game. I tend to stay even keel, but you know, the biggest thing is that I do feel really excited and really happy.”

–Field Level Media

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