Hot-hitting Torrealba bats fifth for Rox
Catcher has just 23 career at-bats above No. 6 spot
DENVER -- With a strong finish to the regular season and a surprise home run in Game 2 of the National League Division Series, Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba found himself with a more prominent role for Sunday night's Game 3.
Manager Jim Tracy moved Torrealba to the No. 5 spot in the order, after batting him sixth in the first two games of the series with the Phillies, which is tied at a game apiece. Torrealba entered Sunday hitting .500 (3-for-6) in the series, with a two-run homer in Thursday's 5-4 victory. It was Torrealba's first homer since early May.
Torrealba hit .313 during the Rockies' strong September push to the playoffs. Torrealba, who supplanted Chris Iannetta as Colorado's No. 1 catcher in August, finished the season with a career-best .291 average, two home runs and 31 RBIs.
"I always have fun," Torrealba said. "How many teams make it? Eight out of 30, so 22 teams are at home watching. So you set a goal of making the World Series, but you enjoy it."
During the regular season, Torrealba took just one of his 213 at-bats from the five-hole. He has had just 23 career at-bats above the No. 6 spot in a career that began in 2001.
But this is now. The way Torrealba is hitting, Tracy wants him hitting behind No. 3 hitter Todd Helton and cleanup man Troy Tulowitzki.
"Who would be the guy right now that you would want to see take that at-bat?" Tracy said. "When you go back and look at what we've seen from Yorvit Torrealba going back to the early part of September, that would be the guy right now vs. a left-handed pitcher that you would want to see take the at-bat with a lot of traffic out there.
"He's done a terrific job. He's taken huge at-bats to help us get into the playoffs, and he had some good at-bats in the first two games of the series against Philadelphia."
Tracy stayed with his Game 2 leadoff hitter, left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, one of two-left handed batters (Helton is the other) in the lineup against Phillies southpaw starter J.A. Happ. Switch-hitting center fielder Dexter Fowler, who led off with no success in Game 1, batted second, as he did in Game 2.
Following Gonzalez and Fowler were Helton, Tulowitzki, Torrealba, third baseman Garrett Atkins, right fielder Ryan Spilborghs, second baseman Clint Barmes and pitcher Jason Hammel.
"I did not want to get to the point where at the early stages of the game that we were too left-handed," Tracy said. "This guy [Happ] has given up very little to left-handed hitters. He's given up three home runs. The batting average against is .216 against left-handers."
Atkins is 1-for-6 and Spilborghs is 1-for-4 in the series. The only hit for both batters is a double. They are key figures. If they can succeed, the Rockies can do damage against Happ.
"I just can't get beyond the fact that Garrett Atkins and Ryan Spilborghs can, I really believe, take a big swing for us," Tracy said. "It's like my mentor [Felipe Alou, who managed the Expos when Tracy was bench coach] told me years ago, 'If you've seen it, it's in there.'"
Left-handed hitting Ian Stewart, who started at third for most of the regular season, has not started in the series. All-Star right fielder Brad Hawpe, another lefty batter, is not starting for the second straight game.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.