On Wednesday, Tsao picked up his second win in his third major league start, giving up just one earned run and two hits in six innings of a 5-1 victory over Philadelphia.
“After the second or third inning, he kicked into another gear as far as his whole demeanor out there … his competitiveness,” said Rockies first baseman Todd Helton.
“He was fun to play behind.”
Tsao, the first Taiwanese pitcher in the major leagues, surrendered a leadoff homer to Marlon Byrd before settling down. In each of his two wins, the young right-hander has given up a homer to the first batter he’s faced.
“He’s got that leadoff home run thing down,” joked manager Clint Hurdle.
Of course, giving up leadoff homers might not be such a bad sign for Tsao. In his second start, he didn’t surrender one, but gave up four earned runs and eight hits in just 4 1-3 innings against Cincinnati on July 31.
“Usually, after a home run I correct myself,” Tsao said. “I slow down and start to relax and regain my mechanics.”
Tsao, who made his major league debut on July 25 after being promoted from Double-A Tulsa, retired the last 10 batters he faced Wednesday.
“I used a two-seam fastball that I had only recently been practicing,” he said through an interpreter. “I used it for the first time and that was the difference.
“I pitched better tonight. Now I have to work out the habit of giving up leadoff home runs.”
The Rockies come in off Monday’s 3-1 loss to the Expos—their third straight setback.
Vladimir Guerrero went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer for the Expos, who have won just two of their last seven.
Montreal moved to within five games of Philadelphia in the National League wild card race, while Colorado dropped six games behind the Phillies.
STANDINGS: Rockies - 4th place, 15 GB, NL West. Expos - 4th place, 17 GB, NL East.
ROCKIES PROBABLE STARTER: Tsao (2-0, 4.32 ERA). The 22-year-old has never faced the Expos.
EXPOS PROBABLE STARTER: Tomo Ohka (8-10, 4.70 ERA). On Thursday, Ohka gave up four earned runs and eight hits in four innings of the Expos’ 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The young right-hander, who has lost three of his last four decisions, is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in two career starts against the Rockies.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Rockies - Helton, .354 avg. and 106 runs; Preston Wilson, 29 HRs and 112 RBIs; Tony Womack, 11 SBs. Expos - Jose Vidro, .320 avg.; Orlando Cabrera, 17 HRs, 67 RBIs, 77 runs and 20 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Expos, 3-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Rockies - Entering Monday’s game, 1B Helton owned a career .422 average (68-for-161)against Montreal, the second highest average of any active player against another team with a minimum of 125 plate appearances. The highest such average is Helton’s .423 mark (71-for-161) against Philadelphia. … Colorado relievers have posted a 2.58 ERA since the All-Star Break, issuing only 20 walks and striking out 56. … Opponents are batting .277 with 11 strikeouts and four homers against RHP Tsao. Expos - RHP Rocky Biddle earned his 28th save in 33 opportunities Monday. … Since he was recalled from Triple-A Edmonton on July 30, RHP T.J. Tucker has pitched seven shutout innings, lowering his ERA from 5.96 to 5.16. … For the second time in three days, the Expos avoided falling below .500 for the first time this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rockies - 19-42 on the road; Expos - 37-22 at home.
INJURIES: Rockies - INF Mark Bellhorn (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Nelson Cruz (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Denny Neagle (elbow), 15-day DL; OF Chris Richard (shoulder), 60-day DL. Expos - C Michael Barrett (hip), 15-day DL; IF Fernando Tatis (chest), 15-day DL; RHP Orlando Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Dan Smith (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Scott Stewart (appendicitis), 15-day DL; RHP Claudio Vargas (rotator cuff), 15-day DL; RHP Tony Armas Jr. (shoulder), 60-day DL.