Speed is something the Rockies have been consciously trying to use against the Blue Jays during their weekend series.
"If we get on base, we've got some guys that can run," said Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "We're going to try and take advantage whenever it's available. We've had some success doing it. It's been a more potent method for us this year than it has been in the past."
Last season, the Rockies finished ninth in the National League with 85 steals. One of the main reasons for the increased rate of stolen bases this season has been the emergence of center fielder Willy Taveras and second baseman Kazuo Matsui at the top of the lineup. Heading into Saturday's action, Taveras was ranked fifth in the NL with 18 stolen bases while Matsui was in 11th place with 13.
"You can't teach [speed]," Hurdle said. "Everybody wants it -- not enough people have it. So, you do need to put it in play when you feel it's appropriate."
Aggressive baserunning could be especially valuable against Toronto because the Jays catchers have not done a very good job throwing out runners this season. Toronto does not have a catcher that ranks in the Major League top 20 in caught stealing percentage. As a trio, Jays catchers Gregg Zaun, Jason Phillips, and Curtis Thigpen have managed to throw out just 13.9 percent of baserunners attempting to steal.
That's something Hurdle hopes to take advantage of.
"There's some opportunities," said Hurdle. "When we feel like we've got them, we're going to move upon them. If we can get Taveras and Matsui on base at the same time -- it's a pretty exciting combination. It's played out pretty well for us this year through  games."
Tulowitzki good to go: Rockies rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was in the lineup on Saturday afternoon, one day after his rough collision at the plate with Zaun.
Tulowitzki went from second to home on a single to right field by Rockies first baseman Todd Helton. As he slid towards the plate, he was spiked in the leg by Zaun.
Tulowitzki remained on the ground for several minutes before limping off the field.
Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger worked with Tulowitzki before the game to make sure he was able to be in the lineup. Hurdle said before the game he wasn't going to know until the last minute whether or not the 22-year-old would be a go.
"I think he's a little sore," Hurdle said. "Especially when you get spiked in the quad. I've got him penciled in right now -- he's getting treatment. Kevin's working with him; we'll see where we go. We'll give him every opportunity until about noon to get loose and see how it feels."
Tulowitzki did end up playing, and in his first at-bat, homered to left field off Jays starter Ty Taubenheim. Tulowitzki has now homered in each of his last three games.
The collision at the plate caused a brief scare for the Rockies, who were concerned it might be a more serious injury.
"I thought he got spiked, but when a guy goes down, you never know," Hurdle said. "That's one thing I think I've gotten better with over time, is that you don't know. So, why go anywhere till you go out there and let the trainer look at it."
Hirsh on the bubble? One morning after right-hander Jason Hirsh's second consecutive rough outing, Hurdle still wasn't prepared to announce whether or not the 25-year-old would be remaining in the Rockies rotation. Although Hurdle remained non-committal, it was clear that he has not been happy with Hirsh's last two performances, in which he has allowed 10 runs over his last 8 2/3 innings.
"It's still command issues," Hurdle said. "When I've seen him effective, he's pitched off his fastball. For me, when he starts picking and nibbling, and every go-to pitch is a soft pitch -- that's when I don't get the warm fuzzies."
Did you know? Friday's series opener was just the second time in 27 games the Rockies bullpen has allowed more than two runs in a contest. Colorado's relievers had allowed one run or fewer in 12 straight games before allowing four against the Jays on Friday.
Up next: Right-hander Josh Fogg (3-5, 4.58) is scheduled to take the mound for Colorado when the Rockies close out Interleague Play against the Blue Jays at 11:07 a.m. MT on Sunday at Rogers Centre. Toronto will counter with right-hander Dustin McGowan (3-3, 5.68) who is 3-1 in his last five starts.
Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less