Colorado (63-82) at Arizona (45-101)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Phoenix, AZ
Temp: 95° F
  • Game info: 6:05 pm EDT Thu Sep 16, 2004
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The Colorado Rockies, a team starving for starting pitching on a yearly basis, may have found something in Jeff Francis.

Francis will try for his third straight solid outing when he takes the mound for the Rockies in the finale of their four-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The 23-year-old left-hander started his big league career 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA after two starts, but has since gotten his act together. Francis has won two straight starts, allowing two runs over 10 1-3 innings in a pair of wins over San Diego.

Francis, Baseball America’s minor league player of the year, pitched his first game at hitter-friendly Coors Field on Sunday and allowed just two solo homers to Khalil Greene and three other hits over 5 1-3 innings in a 5-2 win over the Padres.

“It was refreshing to hear some noise when things go well,” Francis said. “When things don’t go your way, it’s a little easier to gather your thoughts when things aren’t erupting.”

Manager Clint Hurdle was extremely pleased with his 6-foot-5 left-hander.

“I thought he showed tremendous poise out there today,” Hurdle said. “He only gave up two hits after the first inning to minimize the damage. The kid’s learning on the highest level there is.”

Francis isn’t the only young player making his mark with the big club. Garrett Atkins, a 24-year-old rookie who played in 25 games for the Rockies last year, started at first base Wednesday for Todd Helton.

The right-handed hitter batted third—Helton’s spot—against Arizona lefty Randy Johnson and finished 2-for-3 in the 3-2 loss.

“He hit .360-something in Triple-A,” Hurdle said of Atkins, who is 4-for-8 with a home run and three RBIs in eight games. “This is a good challenge.”

The league-worst Diamondbacks have split their last six games.

Johnson struck out 11 on Wednesday to move into third place on the all-time list with 4,139.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Francis NYY vs. S. Randolph KC
3-2 Record 2-5
5.15 ERA 5.51
32 K 62
13 BB 76
1.50 WHIP 1.82