x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Pitcher is injury doubt as Rockies take on world champions

The MLB play-offs begin with the defending World Series champions Philadelphia hosting Colorado and St Louis visiting the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The MLB play-offs begin tonight with two National League games as the defending World Series champions Philadelphia host Colorado and St Louis visit the Los Angeles Dodgers. Just as they did in 2007, the Rockies open the play-offs in Philadelphia as the hottest team in the National League. Only this time, they might be without the hottest pitcher in the game.The lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who went 16-3 after losing his first six decisions, will test his tight left groin to see if he is fit to play in the best-of-five series. His injury has left the Rockies' rotation in limbo.

Their manager, Jim Tracy, is only committing to his young ace Ubaldo Jimenez, whose 100 mph fastball is likely to give the Phillies plenty of trouble tonight. Two years ago, the Rockies overcame the Phillies as they put up a 21-1 record on route the World Series. But now it is Philadelphia who are expected to progress. "You're playing the defending world champions, a team that's got a lot of confidence, a team that knows how to win," said the Colorado closer, Huston Street. "But we're coming in playing good baseball."

"I think we were more consistent this year," said the Rockies' shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki. "In '07, we made a run at the end that no one had ever seen before, and we just appeared in the play-offs. But this year we're a better team all the way through." In the other game, Chris Carpernter will be on the mound for St Louis. He won 17 games for the Cardinals this year an is a strong contender for the Cy Young best-pitcher award.

For the Dodgers, manager Joe Torre is chasing his fifth World Series after leading the New York Yankees to four titles. His team had a five-game losing streak just before the end of the season, but tonight's starting pitcher, Randy Wolf, is not worried. "We've wobbled a little bit, but for us to avoid that we just have to play our game," he said. "The last two games were big for us to show we had that fight."