WASHINGTON -- Heading into a two-week stretch which could have a big impact on the Rockies' playoff hopes, a key factor could be how much of an impact All-Star right fielder Brad Hawpe makes on opposing pitchers.
That's why the club hopes that Hawpe's home run in the nightcap of Sunday's doubleheader against Florida was a sign their slugger has broken out of the power outage that had plagued him for the past month.
Hawpe hit his first homer since July 19 in the sixth inning of the team's 7-3 win, giving him 16 on the season but just two since the All-Star Game. Overall on the season, the 30-year-old Hawpe is hitting .304 with 16 home runs and 70 RBIs.
Since hitting .320 with 14 homers and 59 RBIs prior to his All-Star Game appearance (in which he went 0-for-2 but was robbed of a homer in the seventh by game MVP Carl Crawford), the left-handed hitter had been batting just .235 before blasting a pitch from Marlins' Rick VandenHurk to left field on Sunday.
"What was intriguing about it was that he hit it to the opposite field, because we get ourselves into trouble when we become too 'pull oriented' and we roll over balls and start hitting them weakly to the opposite side," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy. "We're a much better team when we're in the middle of the field and battling with two strikes and put balls in play."
Tracy had dropped Hawpe from the cleanup spot to fifth in the lineup of late to take a little pressure off of him, and Hawpe was again penciled into the fifth spot for the opener of the club's three-game series at Washington, following an off-day on Monday.
But Tracy has little doubt that the Hawpe that helped carry the team in the first half is on his way back.
"He's a big dynamic in the middle of our order, and when you combine him with Todd Tulowitzki and Todd Helton and we can continue to do some things at the top of the order, we put ourselves in a great position to score runs," Tracy said. "With Brad, he keeps giving you signs, you know he's going to get it figured out and what we saw in the first half is going to show up and when it does it's going to be another big boost for us as far as our offense is concerned."
Certainly the timing couldn't be better for that to happen now.
The three-game set against Washington winds up a six-game road trip which will be followed by a trip home in which the Rockies will host NL Wild Card rival San Francisco for four games and the NL West-leading Dodgers for three, before turning around and heading to San Francisco for three more games to finish August.
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.