Even with a first-pitch temperature of a record-low 23 degrees, Coors Field remains the home of the Atlanta Braves. They handled the Rockies, 4-3, in the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday afternoon, scoring all of their runs on home runs off of struggling Colorado starter Jeff Francis. The Braves have clubbed 32 homers — the most in the National League — in their first 19 games. Both teams entered the game with 13-5 records, the best in baseball, but the Braves' hex over the Rockies remains. Colorado has now lost eight of its last nine games to the Braves, including the last four in LoDo. Turning point. Braves rookie catcher Evan Gattis greeted Francis with a solo homer into the left-field bleachers to open the fourth, providing what proved to be the winning run. Gattis has already smacked six homers. On the mound. Francis, so good in spring training, got rocked hard for the third consecutive game. There's not much distinction between any of his pitches right now and he's paid the price, his ERA soaring to 8.44. A soft thrower suchas Francis can't afford to leave pitches over the plate, but that's exactly what he's been doing. In the first inning, Justin Upton crushed a solo shot to center, his 10th homer. Dan Uggla added a two run-homer in the second and then Gaddis hit his game-clincher. Francis was sent to the clubhouse after just four innings and 75 pitches, in large part because he pitched so poorly, but also because he's scheduled to pitch on short rest on Saturday. Right-handed reliever Rob Scahill, called up from Triple-A on Sunday, cleaned up the mess and and gave the Rockies a chance to win, throwing three scoreless innings. Hard-throwing, and animated, right-hander Edgmer Escalona, threw two scoreless innings, striking out two and saving the Rockies from having to go deeper into their bullpen.
Braves get home run happy, top Rockies in chilly Game 1 at Coors Field
Denver Post | Apr 23