That the Rockies are off to such a hot start isn't all that surprising considering the presence in the middle of the lineup of two of the game's best hitters, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.

But being able to do it without their ace, Ubaldo Jimenez, bodes well for the Rockies' staying power in the National League West.

Jimenez was placed on the disabled list April 6 with a cuticle cut on his right thumb and is scheduled to return Tuesday against the Giants.

Nevertheless, the Rockies entered Saturday's game with an 11-2 record and seven straight victories and ranked third in the league with a 3.06 earned-run average.

"What a wonderful message for his teammates to send to him," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "When I look back, he started out 15-1 last year, and anything less than that would have had us in a much worse state than we were at the time.

"I'm not going to sit here and complain about who got hurt because when you play professional sports, people periodically get hurt. So our opportunity to pick this guy up, when he basically carried a bunch of us and we were probably getting heavy at this time early last season … it's our time to do a little something for him."

The Rockies will send rookie Alan Johnson, 27, to the mound in his major league debut Sunday against Ryan Dempster.