After a happy flight from New York, the Padres continue their road trip in Colorado for a series against the 2-1 Rockies. Today is the home opener at Coors Field and this season is the 20th Anniversary of the Rockies organization, so there will be lots of pre-game celebrations prior to the first pitch at 1:10pm. Then, the action will get underway as Jason Marquis and Jeff Francis take the mound in our first NL West matchup of the season.
Marquis will be pitching in familiar territory in Colorado against his former team. Throughout his career, especially in 2009 as a member (and All Star) of the Rockies, he has pitched over 140 innings at Coors Field while boasting a 3.78 ERA, which is especially impressive at the stadium's high altitude. It is because of this success, in fact, that Marquis is starting the season pitching in the no. 4 spot in the rotation rather than the no. 3 spot, so he could make his 2013 debut in Colorado.
Marquis was dominated by the Rangers in his final outing of the Spring. He gave up five earned runs on three hits and six walks in just 3 2/3 innings of work at the Alamodome. In his five starts prior to that, however, he made five solid starts, keeping his ERA to 2.00. But hopefully today's performance lives up to his standards at Coors Field.
And hopefully the venue can help our offense get out of its funk. The Padres batted just .172 in the three games against the Mets, but thanks to some free passes were able to combine for eight runs. They are coming off their first win of the season, but they'll need to hit better, especially with runners in scoring position, if they want to keep a win streak going.
Lefty Francis will try to build off a strong Spring in which he posted a 2.76 ERA over seven starts while collecting 15 strikeouts and allowing just three walks. He hopes to get off on the right foot this season, but hasn't had much success in his season openers during his eight-year career. In his first start of the season over the past eight years, he has gone 0-4 with a 7.11 ERA. Furthermore, in 2012 against San Diego, he surrendered a combined 11 runs over 8 2/3 innings in two starts. He may be just what the Padres need to get over their offensive hump to start the year.
Francis is hoping, however, that his offense will stay hot and give him some support on the scoreboard. The Rockies combined for 19 runs on 42 hits (including 8 home runs) while taking 2 of 3 from the Brewers to open their season. Carlos Gonzalez has been deadly at the plate, going 6-for-15 so far with two homers. Gonzalez went 3-for-6 with a triple and a homer last season against Marquis, so he'll be one to watch out for.