Colorado and Oakland are both next-to-last in their respective divisions this year, but that the Rockies can afford to sit a player like Fowler, while the A's leading hitter -- injured rookie Yoenis Cespedes -- would be the sixth-leading hitter for the Rockies, is telling of the very different paths the two teams have taken to get there.
The offense-starved A's have relied predominantly on pitching this season, riding a combined 3.77 ERA to 28 wins. But even with those strong starting performances, Oakland's offense has simply been too unproductive to turn enough strong outings into victories. In fact, the A's are last in the Majors in hitting (.222) and are in the American League's bottom five in runs scored (229).
The Rockies, on the other hand, have the fourth-best batting average in the Majors (.265) propelling the Majors' third-most productive offense with 314 runs scored. Their pitching, meanwhile, is the worst in baseball with a 5.44 combined ERA.
Unfortunately for the Rockies, however, Coors Field seems to be the perfect remedy for the A's offensive woes, as their offense has looked downright potent in the first two games of the series at Colorado. As a team, Oakland is hitting .309 in the series with seven home runs and one spectacular ninth-inning comeback -- a three-run rally in the final frame of Wednesday night's contest.
Colorado's Alex White will hope to give the A's a flashback to their offensive woes -- and grab the Rockies their first win in nine Interleague games this season -- in the series finale. White is 2-4 with a 5.66 ERA in 2012, his second season of big league action, and so far his only problem in Interleague Play has been the Angels' Torii Hunter, who clubbed a pair of two-run homers off White in last Friday's loss to the Angels.
Taking the hill for the A's in the finale will be rookie Jarrod Parker, who was hit hard by the D-backs in his last outing, allowing six runs in five innings. Prior to that game, however, the righty had allowed just one run in 21 innings, a statistic more representative of what has been a solid debut campaign: Parker comes into Thursday's game with a record of 2-3 and a 3.19 ERA.
A's: Cespedes exits early in return
Cespedes returned to the A's lineup Wednesday night, only to exit after one at-bat after aggravating his left hamstring injury. Cespedes has been out since leaving Oakland's June 5 game against the Rangers with a strained left hamstring and was slow to walk off the field after a first-inning groundout.
With a .273 average, the 26-year-old is the A's leading hitter. Josh Reddick has the team's next-highest mark at .267.
Rockies: Scutaro a strong sub at short
On the day Troy Tulowitzki's first Triple-A rehab start went awry, Rockies fans might have been in despair about the lingering void left by their injured superstar. But Marco Scutaro reassured them, continuing his hot batting with four more hits Wednesday night.
Since May 23, Scutaro is putting up Tulowitzki-like numbers. He is 25 for 71 (.352) in that time with nine multi-hit games. Overall, he is hitting .280 and has turned in a .985 fielding percentage in 16 games at shortstop.
A's first baseman Brandon Moss, who was called up from Triple-A Sacramento just last week, added another home run last night to make it three for the series. Moss has four total homers since the callup.
Despite their winless 2012, Colorado owns a 56-44 record in Interleague Play since 2006, the National League's best record over that span. The Mets (52-51) are the only other NL team over .500 in that time.
Parker (11) and White (6) have two of the three lowest jersey numbers of all Major League pitchers currently on active 25-man rosters. Only the Blue Jays' Kyle Drabek (4) has a lower one, and two other pitchers (Yu Darvish and Clay Buchholz) wear 11.