Rockies juggle lineup again for Game 4 of playoffs
AP Sports Writer
DENVER – Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy juggled his lineup again, flip-flopping Garrett Atkins and Yorvit Torrealba for Game 4 of the playoffs against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The weather warmed considerably after a cold front moved out of Colorado, with temperatures in the mid-40s Monday after Game 3 was played in the mid-20s.
Tracy moved Atkins up to fifth following his 2-for-4, two-RBI performance in the sixth spot Sunday night. He bumped down Torrealba, who went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in the No. 5 spot in Colorado’s 6-5 loss in Game 3.
“Did we maybe take him out of his comfort level a little bit? It’s possible,” Tracy said.
The Phillies, who led 2-1 in the best-of-five series, sent Cliff Lee to the mound Monday, and Tracy said he felt really good putting Atkins behind Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki in the middle of the order.
“The guy we saw last night, that’s the guy that’s driven in over 100 runs three of the last four years,” Tracy said. “And if that’s the guy that’s swinging the bat, that is the guy that should be hitting fifth.”
Atkins slumped this season, batting .226 with nine homers and 48 RBIs, and was benched midway through the year in favor of left-handed hitter Ian Stewart.
With the Phillies’ bevy of left-handed starters, Tracy has been unable to put his most potent lineup on the field in the postseason. Stewart, who hit 25 homers, has been relegated to pinch-hitting duties, as had Seth Smith before Monday’s game.
Stewart has played some second base but Tracy said there was no way he was going to bench slick-fielding Clint Barmes against the Phillies. He said Barmes and Tulowitzki up the middle give him the best defense, and he wasn’t about to tinker with that.
“What we get from him offensively right now, we’ll take it because he’s going to win an awful lot of games with that glove,” Tracy said.
Tracy also inserted Smith into left field and moved Carlos Gonzalez to right.
“Seth Smith took some good swings off of Cliff Lee when we faced him in the regular season,” Tracy said. “We give Smitty a shot at it today and give him four at-bats and see what happens. You move Carlos over to right field and you’re still good defensively.”
All-Star right fielder Brad Hawpe, who has nose-dived at the plate since September, was benched for the second straight game.