Losing two starting pitchers to injury isn’t good news for a team in a playoff race. Then again, the Colorado Rockies’ rotation isn’t what has carried them during a red-hot run at home.
The Rockies look to extend a four-game winning streak at Coors Field when they play the middle game of their series with the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night.
Colorado (71-66) announced Monday it will be without starters Aaron Cook (left abdomen strain) and Jason Hirsh (right fibula) for the rest of the season. The Rockies will call up Franklin Morales (0-2, 4.40 ERA) from Triple-A Colorado Springs to start Tuesday.
Colorado, though, has been able to overcome shaky starting pitching en route to a major league-best 28-10 record at home since June 2.
The Rockies have averaged 8.4 runs in their wins during that stretch. Their starters, meanwhile, have a 4.55 ERA in those 38 games, while the club’s relievers have posted a 2.38 ERA.
Colorado’s strong play at home has helped it stay in the playoff hunt - five games behind first-place San Diego in the NL West and four games behind Arizona for the wild card.
A year ago, the Rockies were 10 games below .500.
“It’s a lot more fun,” Colorado pitcher Jeff Francis said. “Guys out here are playing for the team, playing for the guy next to you. This time last year guys were going out and maybe playing a little bit for themselves. Now they have no choice but to do otherwise.”
Francis gave up three runs in 5 2-3 innings against the Giants (62-76) on Monday, but his one-out double started a seven-run third inning as the Rockies won 7-4.
Francis is one of three Colorado starters remaining from this year’s original rotation. Morales is one of several pitchers who have made spot starts for the Rockies during the season.
The left-hander faced the San Francisco in his last start, giving up two runs and six hits in five innings as Colorado lost 3-1 Tuesday night. He was sent to the minors two days after his first career appearance against the Giants.
Morales has given up two runs or less in two of his three starts this season.
San Francisco will counter with Tim Lincecum (7-4, 3.94), who is making his first start since Aug. 26 after having his turn skipped Saturday to give him some extra rest. The rookie right-hander is 5-2 with a 2.64 ERA in his last 12 starts, and the Giants have won eight of those games.
In his last outing, Lincecum allowed four runs - three earned - and seven hits in six innings of a 5-4 win over Milwaukee on Aug. 26.
Lincecum’s first major league win came against the Rockies on May 11. He gave up three runs—two earned—and seven hits while striking out six as the Giants won 8-3.
He leads all NL rookies with 137 strikeouts.
San Francisco will try to give Lincecum some runs to work with Tuesday after scoring a total of nine in its last five games. Barry Bonds is scheduled to play the final two games of this series after being held out of the starting lineup Monday.
“I told him I was going to go with some kids out there and give him a day,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’ll play the next two. It’s a spot in the schedule where we can give him a break.”
Bonds, though, is hitting just .195 (8-for-41) against the Rockies this season.