The Colorado Rockies hope the end of their six-game losing streak will help them start a run to make up for their dismal start as defending NL champions.
For winless left-hander Jeff Francis, the nightmare 2008 season only seems to be getting worse.
Francis will look to rebound from his worst start of the season and lead the struggling Rockies to back-to-back wins on Sunday in the decisive game of their series against the visiting Minnesota Twins.
When he pitched the Rockies to a win in Game 1 of the NLCS last October, Francis (0-4, 6.27 ERA) probably didn’t imagine that he’d have to wait until the second half of May for his next victory.
But due to a combination of paltry run support and his own struggles, Colorado’s 17-game winner from a year ago is still looking for his first win of 2008. Tuesday’s loss at Arizona was no one’s fault but his own, as he allowed season highs of eight earned runs and 13 hits in a season-low 4 2-3 innings in an 8-4 loss.
Francis set career highs last season in wins, strikeouts (165) and innings pitched (215 1-3), compiling a 4.22 ERA.
“He’s got some history on his side that he needs to continue to pay attention to,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “That being said, you’ve got to perform, execute and make pitches.”
The Rockies (16-27) used a strong pitching performance Saturday to get their first win in eight days. They had lost a season-high six straight coming in, but beat the Twins 3-2 behind six shutout innings from Greg Reynolds in the rookie’s second major league start.
Now, they’ll try to win a series for the first time since they took two of three at Houston from April 18-20. The Rockies have lost 19 of 26 overall, and have only won one series at home all season after going 51-31 at Coors Field in 2007.
The Twins (21-21) are also struggling, having dropped four of five and totaling just eight runs in their last three games. They’ll turn to their own winless starter in Kevin Slowey to try to reverse the trend.
Slowey (0-3, 5.79) has lost all three of his starts this season surrounding a lengthy stint on the disabled list with a biceps strain. He’s given up three runs in each of his starts, failing to make it through six innings in any of them.
He is coming off his longest outing of the year, allowing five hits in 5 2-3 innings against Toronto in a 5-3 loss Tuesday.
“Overall I thought I threw well,” Slowey said. “Just not well enough.”
Minnesota played Saturday’s game without center fielder Carlos Gomez, who injured his wrist after running into the wall to make a ninth-inning catch in Friday’s 4-2 victory. It’s unclear if the leadoff hitter will be available for Sunday’s game.
“We’ll try (Sunday) and see how it’s feeling,” Gomez told the Twins’ official Web site. “It’s not too bad, but it is hurting.”