After beginning the month of July taking two of three from the Orioles, the Braves now play host to the Rockies for a four-game set beginning with what could be a very impressive pitching matchup, if both hurlers live up to their side of the bargain.

Tommy Hanson gets the start against Ubaldo Jimenez in Monday’s 7:10 opener

In his last visit to Turner Field, Jimenez tossed the first no-hitter in Rockies history, a 4-0 win April 17 of last year.

It will be Hanson’s second career start against the Rockies, who may be without Carlos Gonzalez. His first start came July 9, 2009 in Colorado, a 7-6 Rockies victory where the young righty threw 5 innings and gave up 4 runs.

After missing more than two weeks with inflammation in his right shoulder, Hanson has won three straight starts, posting a 9-4 record and a 2.62 ERA. He threw 6 innings last Tuesday in Seattle, giving up 3 runs on 6 hits while fanning 8.

Jimenez did not fare in the decision his last start as the Rockies lost, 3-2, to the White Sox. He went 7 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits and striking out 4. Jimenez comes in with a much different record than he did at this point last season. He posts a 3-7 record with a 4.35 ERA after having gone 3-2 over his last six starts. In his career, he is 2-2 wit ha 2.61 ERA against the Braves.

Tuesday’s 7:10 game will feature Derek Lowe going against Jhoulys Chacin.

In his last outing, Lowe earned his 4th win over the season as the Braves finished off the sweep in Seattle in a 5-3 win. He went 6 innings, giving up 4 hits and one run while striking out 5. Previously, Lowe had lost two of three decisions and the Braves had lost three consecutive games Lowe started.

Chacin’s previous start was against the Cubs, and the young Venezuelan gave up 6 runs on 9 hits over 5 innings, striking out 4 and walking 3. He comes in with a 8-5 record and an ERA of 3.10.

Wednesday, Jurrjens will oppose Aaron Cook in a 7:10 start.

Jurrjens will be looking to finalize his resume for the National League’s starting pitcher, as Cook will be looking for his first win of the year.

Jurrjens threw a complete game, one-hitter Friday evening against the Orioles in a 4-0 win, earning his 11th win of the year and lowering his ERA to an NL-best 1.89.

The nine-year veteran Cook posts an ERA of 4.66, but has not gotten the sufficient run support to earn him that first win. In his previous outing, Cook went 6 innings, giving up one run on 5 hits, but the Rockies lost 6- to the White Sox.

Thursday’s matchup between Hudson and Juan Nicasio will be the final game at Turner Field before the All-Star break, as the Braves head north to Philadelphia after the contest.

Hudson allowed 3 runs on 8 hits in 6 innings in Sunday’s finale against Baltimore. He did not factor in the win as the bullpen was unable to keep the Orioles at bay. He comes into the game with a 7-6 record and posts a 3.57 ERA.

Nicasio shut the Royals down in his last start, allowing three hits and no runs over 8 innings, striking out 4 as the Rockies won, 9-0. He improved to 3-1 and lowered his ERA to 4.10.

Offensively, Gonzalez provides a lot of punch in the Rockies lineup. Listed as day-to-day with a wrist injury, Gonzalez is hitting .409 with 5 HR’s and 17 RBI’s over his previous 23 contests. New addition Mark Ellis has gone 8-for-15 with 2 HR’s and 7 RBI’s since his Rockie debut Friday night. Do not forget Troy Tulowitzki (.272 17HR 57 RBI), Todd Helton (.320 9HR 38RBI), Jason Giambi (.282 9HR 20RBI), Seth Smith (.301 8HR 36RBI) and closer Huston Street (3.46 ERA 24 saves).

Over the past week, Chipper has hit 4-for-20 (.200), Brian McCann has gone 10-for-21 (.476) with a HR and 4RBI, Jordan Schafer is 5-for-21 (.238), Dan Uggla is 3-for-22 (.136 HR 2RBI), Nate McLouth is 2-for-13 (.154 7BB), Freddie Freeman is 5-for-19 (.263), Jason Heyward is 6-for-25 (.240) and Alex Gonzalez is 3-for-19 (.158).

Keys to the series:

  1. Continue the dominant pitching
    1. After Jurrjens outing Friday night, the Braves staff had high expectations to live up to, and still split the next two with mediocre pitching performances.
  2. Shut the Rockies offense down
    1. Even without Gonzalez, the Rockies are a very dangerous ballclub, led by Tulowitzki and Helton. Do not underestimate their bench either, which is bolstered by Giambi
  3. Finish off the first half strong
    1. The Braves have 7 games remaining in the official first half of the season (4 w/ COL, 3 w/ PHI) and sit 4 games behind the Phillies in the NL East when play began Monday. Stick to what has worked and continue to make strides as the season progresses.