The slumping Atlanta Braves have cooled off quite a bit since
getting off to a blazing start. Coming off their first home loss,
the Colorado Rockies are looking to get back on track, too.
The Braves won’t have struggling slugger Jason Heyward on
Tuesday – and for a while longer – as these teams play a split
doubleheader following the third postponement at Coors Field this
After averaging 5.2 runs while opening 12-1, Atlanta has dropped
four of five. Having scored nine runs while batting .195 over that
stretch, the Braves (13-5) are coming off their third straight
loss, 4-2 at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
“We’re just not capitalizing on our opportunities offensively,”
said manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose team dropped to 0-5 when not
homering. “We’re not getting that big hit when we need it. We’re
not catching any breaks either, like a broken-bat hit or a pitch
going to the backstop. It’ll turn around, though.”
To make things worse, Atlanta found out Monday it will be
without Heyward for a while after the right fielder had an
appendectomy. Heyward, hitting just .121 with two homers, was
placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday. Gonzalez said there’s
no set timetable for his return.
The Braves could get a boost from cleanup hitter Freddie
Freeman, who is expected to be activated from the DL after going 5
for 10 with two doubles during a three-game rehab assignment with
Freeman was 7 for 17 with a homer and seven RBIs before
suffering a strained right oblique April 6. Dan Uggla should also
be available after sitting out Sunday due to a strained left
The Braves and Colorado (13-5) rank among the major league
leaders in homers, and the Rockies are near the top with a .482
slugging percentage and 104 runs.
Colorado had opened a franchise-best 8-0 at home and won eight
straight overall before falling 5-4 to Arizona on Sunday. Troy
Tulowitzki went 2 for 4 with his sixth homer, but the Rockies gave
up three runs over the last two innings – including two in the
ninth – with closer Rafael Betancourt unavailable after pitching
the previous two days.
“This is a good team and we battle every single game,” said
Carlos Gonzalez, batting a team-high .364. “If you’re going to lose
your winning streak, it’s better to do it the way we did today,
playing good baseball. We just had one bad inning at the end.”
Colorado could have a hard time regrouping versus Atlanta, which
has won seven of eight and 12 of 15 in the series. The Braves are
batting .327 and have scored 38 runs during a four-game winning
streak in Denver.
Atlanta now gives the ball to Mike Minor (2-1, 0.95 ERA), who
was scheduled to start Monday’s series opener before it was
postponed due to bad weather.
The left-hander, who has struck out 16 and walked one over his
first three starts, gave up one run and five hits over six innings
in a 1-0 loss to Kansas City on Wednesday.
Minor allowed a career-high eight runs over five innings at
Colorado on May 5 before giving up one hit and striking out seven
in seven innings of a 1-0 home win over the Rockies on Sept. 5.
The Rockies counter with Jeff Francis (1-1, 8.25), who’s allowed
15 runs – 10 earned – 16 hits and six walks over his last two
starts spanning six innings. The left-hander is 3-2 with a 6.49 ERA
in five outings against the Braves, but he hasn’t faced them since
Francis will need to be cautious with Justin Upton, who’s gone 8
for 22 with two homers in their matchups. The slugging left
fielder, who has nine home runs, is batting .341 with five homers
and 16 RBIs over his last 25 games against the Rockies.
Julio Teheran (0-0, 7.31) gets the ball for the Braves in the
nightcap. The right-hander has allowed at least four runs in all
three starts this season and given up five homers in 16 innings,
but the Braves have come away with a win each time.
Teheran will be opposed by Jon Garland (2-0, 3.32). The
right-hander has notched three quality starts in as many outings,
including Thursday against the Mets when he allowed two runs over
seven innings of an 11-3 win at home.
“So far, he’s been real good at pitching down and his sinker is
even better than I thought it was,” manager Walt Weiss said. “He
knows what he’s doing out there. He’s got a plan.”
Garland, 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA in five career starts at Coors
Field, is 1-2 with a 7.25 ERA in four starts against the Braves.
He’s held Upton and Uggla to a combined six hits in 30 at-bats.