Rookie Yovani Gallardo has been enjoying an impressive run for the Milwaukee Brewers over the last three weeks. Jeff Francis has been nearly unstoppable over the last three months for the Colorado Rockies.
The two hot pitchers square off Wednesday night when the Rockies look to complete their first three-game sweep of the Brewers at Coors Field since 2003.
Gallardo (4-1, 2.55 ERA) rejoined the Brewers’ starting rotation on July 19 when ace Ben Sheets went down with a finger injury, and has gone 3-0 with a 2.22 ERA while holding opponents to a .198 batting average in his last four starts.
Gallardo limited Philadelphia to one run and four hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 2-1 win on Friday. He also struck out seven and retired 14 straight batters in one stretch and helped his own cause by going 1-for-3 with a run scored.
“He’s a real polished pitcher for a young man,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost told the Brewers’ official Web site. “The way Yovani commands the down and away fastball - it’s very unique for a young guy to be able to command it the way he does, plus have the bite on his breaking ball and change-up. He’s just a special, special pitcher.”
Gallardo is 4-0 and has yet to give up a homer in seven starts, but will be making his first against the Rockies (58-54) in Denver. He threw 4 2-3 innings of relief in a 2-1, 10-inning win over Colorado on July 14 in Milwaukee, allowing just one hit and striking out four.
Francis (12-5, 4.01), meanwhile, is 7-0 with a 4.30 ERA in his last 10 starts, with the Rockies averaging 7.57 runs of support and going 9-1 in those contests.
The left-hander is 11-1 with a 3.35 ERA over his last 16 starts since May 12. He held Atlanta to one run and six hits with eight strikeouts over six innings in a 9-2 win on Friday.
“He’s been on a nice roll,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “He showed up big for us tonight. He made big pitches when he needed to, didn’t give up any walks and had good command.”
Francis is trying to match his win total from last season when he was 13-11. He is 1-2 with a 9.77 ERA in three career starts versus the Brewers, including a 10-6 win on July 13, when he allowed six runs through five innings.
Todd Helton went 3-for-5 with two homers and four RBIs on Tuesday to lift Colorado to an 11-4 victory. It was his 26th multihomer game and first since Sept. 2, 2005, against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Rockies also improved to 18-4 in their last 22 home games, and pulled into a third-place tie in the NL West with the Dodgers, four games behind first-place Arizona.
Slumping Milwaukee (60-54), meanwhile, has dropped 13 of its last 16 road games but remains one game ahead of the Cubs in the NL Central. The Brewers are trying to avoid losing four in a row overall for first time since a season-high six-game skid May 22-28.