DENVER — After shrugging off their disappointing past at Coors Field and spoiling the Colorado Rockies‘ home opener, the Atlanta Braves will try to win their fourth straight game Saturday.
Anibel Sanchez will move into the Atlanta rotation and start against Chad Bettis.
The Braves walloped the Rockies 8-3 on Friday for their fifth win in seven games this season. It was just their third win in their past nine games at Coors Field.
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“To start out like this, it does propel your confidence,” said Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, who went 3-for-5 with a double, a triple and a career-high-tying three RBIs, “but I think that’s a testament of what we were like coming out of spring. I think that we all have belief in one another, and we truly have faith in what each other’s capable of. And I think that you see a lot of camaraderie and chemistry that allows that to happen.”
The Braves, who went 72-90 last year and have endured four straight losing seasons, scored seven or more runs in five of their seven games and 56 runs this season to set a modern-era franchise record for the first seven games of the season. The previous record for seven games was 53 runs by the 2006 Braves and the 1900 Boston Beaneaters. The Braves’ 56 runs are the most since the New York Yankees scored 61 runs in their first seven games in 2003.
“You see the numbers that we’ve put up so far and it’s been good,” said Swanson, who also tied his career-high with three hits and is hitting .370 (10-for-27) with a .926 OPS. “But at the same time, what’s impressed about this team is the ability and maturity to come back tomorrow and prepare and kind of forget today and move forward.”
Sanchez (0-0, 0.00) pitched three scoreless innings in a loss Monday against Washington and threw 58 pitches. He will take the rotation spot that had been earmarked for Luiz Gohara, who instead was scheduled to throw two innings Friday in an extended spring training game as he works his way back from a left ankle sprain suffered in spring training.
Sanchez signed a minor league contract with the Braves after being released by the Minnesota Twins in spring training. He was impressive enough for Atlanta to release Scott Kazmir and his $16 million contract.
Sanchez is 4-0 with a 1.77 ERA in five career starts against the Rockies and 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in one start at Coors Field. That was on Aug. 16, 2011, when he was pitching with the Florida Marlins. Starting Sanchez will enable the other Braves starters to have an additional day of rest before their next outing.
Bettis (1-0, 3.60 ERA) made his 2017 debut against the Braves on Aug. 14 at Coors Field and threw seven scoreless innings after overcoming testicular cancer and won 3-0. He is 3-2 with a 4.46 ERA in eight career games, seven starts, against the Braves.
In his first start this season, Bettis gave up five hits and two runs Monday at San Diego with four walks and four strikeouts and was the winning pitcher in the Rockies’ 7-4 victory. He gave up single runs in the first and third but retired seven of the final eight batters he faced.
Both the Rockies and Braves will look forward to better weather Saturday evening. The start of Friday’s game was delayed 61 minutes by rain and snow. When German Marquez threw the first pitch of the game, the temperature was 27 degrees. It was the coldest for a start of a home opener and the second-coldest for the start of a game in Rockies franchise history. The coldest was 23 degrees against the Braves on April 23, 2013.
The Rockies, who fell to 4-4, cut the Braves’ lead to 4-3 with a two-run fourth when Carlos Gonzalez and Trevor Story homered. But Marquez, who lasted 4 1/3 innings, gave up three runs in the fifth, the final two on pitcher Brandon McCarthy’s two-out double. It was his first career extra-base hit and came on his 121st career at-bat.
“We put some runs on the board,” Gonzalez said. “It’s nice when you get the homer and get the win, but it wasn’t the case today. So, we move forward. One game is just one game. Just the same way we handled it last year, we wash it out and show up tomorrow with good intensity.”