Braves-Rockies Preview

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

Triple-A Gwinnett.

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.