Elarton looks to help the Rockies secure their first road series win of the season as they play the middle game of their set against the hapless Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Elarton, a 17-game winner for Houston in 2000, hadn’t pitched in nearly two years because of shoulder surgery. Hard work and determination have helped the veteran right-hander return with a flourish.
Battling a sore arm in 2001, Elarton went 4-8 with the Astros before being sent to Colorado at the trade deadline. He then went 0-2 with a 6.65 ERA in four starts with the Rockies.
He spent more than a month on the disabled list at the end of the 2001 season, then missed all of 2002 after having arthroscopic shoulder surgery.
After a healthy spring training, Elarton opened the season in Triple-A Colorado Springs to build up arm strength. He pitched so well the Rockies brought him up last month.
In four starts since being called up, Elarton has gone 3-1 despite a 6.14 ERA. On May 24, he made his first big-league appearance in 19 months, and his 12-5 victory over Los Angeles five days later was his first win since May 6, 2001.
“To get him this early, it is a tremendous bonus,” Colorado pitching coach Bob Apodaca said. “It was a pleasant surprise, but at the same time we needed this shot of his presence here. It was a very, very well-timed event for us.”
The Tigers have scored fewer than two runs six times during their current skid.
Detroit has yet to win a home series this season and has the worst home record in the majors at 5-25.
“We’re just pressing right now,” Detroit manager Alan Trammell said. “We aren’t staying as focused as we need to be. Everyone wants to be the hero and get the big hit. That’s normal, but it means expanding the strike zone too much.”
STANDINGS: Rockies - 3rd place, 8 1/2 GB, NL West. Tigers - 5th place, 21 1/2 GB, AL Central.
ROCKIES PROBABLE STARTER: Elarton (3-1, 6.14 ERA). Elarton is 0-0 with a 1.29 ERA in one career start against Detroit.
TIGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Mike Maroth (1-11, 5.35 ERA). In his last outing, Maroth gave up two runs and six hits in six innings in a 7-5 defeat at San Francisco on Saturday. He was pitching on nine days’ rest as he skipped his previous start to rest a strained right hamstring he injured against Cleveland on May 28. He has allowed just two earned runs in each if his last three starts, but is just 1-2 over that span.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Rockies - Todd Helton, .327 avg. and 55 runs; Preston Wilson, 15 HRs and 57 RBIs; Wilson and Larry Walker, 5 SBs. Tigers - Dmitri Young, .280 avg., 12 HRs and 39 RBIs; Bobby Higginson, 31 runs; Alex Sanchez, 12 SBs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Rockies - 6-4; Tigers - 2-8.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Rockies - CF Wilson is batting .444 (20-for-45) in his last 12 games, with three homers, two doubles and nine RBIs. … 2B Juan Uribe has an eight-game hitting streak. … 3B Stynes has a career .526 average (10-for-19) at Comerica Park. Tigers - Left-handed batters are hitting .196 against LHP Maroth this season. … Detroit has scored a major league-low 196 runs. … LHP Maroth is 0-6 with a 4.98 ERA in seven starts at home this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rockies - 9-24 on the road; Tigers - 5-25 at home.
INJURIES: Rockies - 2B Ronnie Belliard (ankle), 15-day DL; LHP Denny Neagle (back), 15-day DL; RHP Denny Stark (side), 60-day DL; OF Chris Richard (shoulder), 60-day DL. Tigers - OF Gene Kingsale (groin), 15-day-DL; 1B Carlos Pena (hamstring), 15-day DL; INF Dean Palmer (shoulder, neck), 60-day DL; RHP Danny Patterson (elbow), 60-day DL.