If the Arizona Diamondbacks want to stay relevant through the dog days of summer, Tuesday night might be the beginning of the most important stretch of their 2010 season.
Entering the three-game series at Coors Field 6.5 games back of the first place San Diego Padres, the D-Backs begin a 12-game stint against their NL West division opponents.
Taking the mound in the opener for Arizona will be surprise team ERA leader Ian Kennedy (3-2, 3.24 ERA).
In his last appearance, Kennedy went eight strong innings allowing just one earned run while striking out a career-high nine batters in a 13-1 rout of San Francisco.
Colorado will counter with rookie right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (2-2, 3.12 ERA), who after losing a 14.1 scoreless innings streak has had a 7.59 ERA in his last two starts.
Game Two will see Arizona's Rodrigo Lopez (2-2, 4.42 ERA), take on Cy Young front-runner Ubaldo Jimenez (8-1, 0.99 ERA).
Jimenez, who has already thrown a no-hitter this season, leads the NL in wins, WHIP, and ERA.
Earlier this year the Rockies' ace threw six scoreless innings against the D-Backs, allowing just two hits in a 12-1 Colorado victory.
The final game of the series will match up the Rockies' Jason Hammel (1-3, 7.52 ERA) against the slugging Arizona ace of Dan Haren (5-3 4.79 ERA).
In just 29 at-bats this year, Haren has accumulated 12 hits amounting to an astounding .414 batting average.
In his last start, Haren collected two doubles while driving in three runs en route to an 8-6 Arizona win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Although his ERA might not be where the D-Backs want it to be, Haren has been a workhorse in the rotation, and currently ranks second in the NL in both innings pitched (62.7) and strikeouts (70).
Other D-Backs News and Notes
Arizona recalled infielder Ryan Roberts from Triple-A Reno and placed Tony Abreu on the 15-day disabled list with a left wrist sprain.
Roberts is batting .275 with the affiliate, knocking in a team-leading 26 RBIs.
Catcher Miguel Montero is scheduled to catch a bullpen session Tuesday in Colorado as part of his recovery from a right knee sprain. Still, however, no date has been scheduled for a rehabilitation assignment in the minors.
Former Cy Young award winner Brandon Webb is in Birmingham, Ala., working with Dr. James Andrews' strength and conditioning trainer.
Arizona is 7-10 versus the NL West and 2-1 against Colorado in 2010.
The D-Backs still lead the NL in home runs hit with 57, but fell far behind the Blue Jays major league-leading pace of 76 during their weekend series.