Preview: Rockies at Nationals

Roy Oswalt makes his season debut Thursday when the visiting Colorado Rockies begin a four-game series against the Washington Nationals. The veteran right-hander is replacing Jeff Francis in the Rockies’ rotation after making five quality minor-league starts. The Nationals are entering the series on a high note after Ian Desmond belted a grand slam in the 11th inning of Wednesday’s 6-2 win over Philadelphia, snapping a three-game losing streak.

The Rockies are struggling to score runs with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (ribs) on the disabled list, and that trend continued when they were swept by the Blue Jays in a three-game series in Toronto over the weekend. Josh Rutledge is 1-for-22 in five games since being called up from the minors to replace Tulowitzki. Right fielder Michael Cuddyer extended his hitting streak to a career-high 17 games on Wednesday. He’s batting .366 during the streak.

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, ROOT (Colorado), MASN (Washington)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Rockies RH Roy Oswalt (2012: 4-3, 5.80 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Jordan Zimmermann (9-3, 2.44)

Oswalt will wear No. 44, which was given to him by fellow starter Juan Nicasio. The 35-year-old Oswalt, who signed a minor league contract with Colorado on May 2, declared himself ready after going 3-2 with a 2.16 ERA in five starts with Double-A Tulsa. Ryan Zimmerman is 10-for-27 with two homers against Oswalt, who struggled in 17 appearances with Texas last season.

Zimmermann has not lost at Nationals Park in more than a year, going 11-0 in his last 18 home starts since June 5, 2012. He’s looking to bounce back from a dismal outing against Cleveland on Saturday, when he allowed six runs over five innings and failed to protect a 5-0 lead. The 27-year-old right-hander is 6-0 with a 1.06 ERA in seven home starts this season.


1. Washington reinstated 2B Danny Espinosa from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday and optioned him to Triple-A Syracuse.

2. Colorado is 3-24 when trailing after six innings.

3. Zimmermann has allowed only six earned runs in 30 innings covering five career starts against Colorado.

PREDICTION: Nationals 5, Rockies 2