Giants-Rockies Preview

The Associated Press

The Colorado Rockies are faced with the difficult task of trying to get their sputtering lineup in gear against San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum.

Seemingly just as challenging, Colorado's Jeremy Guthrie will be asked to keep Pablo Sandoval in check.

Lincecum looks to bounce back from a rough opener and Sandoval will try to continue battering Colorado pitching Wednesday night at Coors Field.

The Giants (1-3) defeated the Rockies 7-0 in the series opener Monday after losing three one-run games at Arizona, their first 0-3 start since 1984. Barry Zito threw a four-hitter for his first shutout in nine years and Sandoval gave the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner all the offense he needed with a first-inning, two-run homer.

Sandoval is off to a quick start with two home runs and six RBIs, and he's routinely given the Rockies problems. The 2011 All-Star is batting .444 with five homers, 11 RBIs and a .545 on-base percentage in nine games against Colorado since the start of last season, with San Francisco winning eight times.

Making matters worse for Colorado, it will be sending a right-hander to the mound in Guthrie (1-0, 3.86 ERA). Sandoval's .328 average against right-handers since the start of last season is seventh best in baseball.

Sandoval isn't the only San Francisco hitter that has fared well against the Rockies. Catcher Buster Posey is batting .329 and has a .427 OBP in 23 career matchups.

Posey, 4 for 12 with a homer and two RBIs on the season, sat out Monday in a scheduled day off.

"This was the plan, to give him the first day off here, and the day off gives him two days," manager Bruce Bochy told the team's official website. "At that point, we'll check on him after the game and see how he's doing. I don't know if we have to do that any more. He feels fine."

Posey is expected to return Wednesday to catch Lincecum (0-1, 8.44).

The two-time NL Cy Young winner is coming off a forgettable performance at Arizona on Friday, yielding five runs and six hits - two of them first-inning homers - while striking out seven in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-4 loss.

The right-hander made two starts against the Rockies last season - both at Coors - with vastly differing results. He allowed a run and struck out 10 in 7 2-3 innings of an 8-1 win April 10, but a month later gave up seven runs - three earned - with nine hits and six walks in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-4 loss.

He'll be facing a Colorado club that has totaled 10 runs, five coming during a three-game skid.

Against Zito on Monday, the Rockies were limited to a season-low four hits and failed to draw a walk for the second time. They were second in the NL with 555 walks last season.

The heart of Colorado's lineup is struggling mightily with Troy Tulowitzki hitting .214, Carlos Gonzalez batting .176 and Todd Helton 1 for 12. Tulowitzki has batted .184 with eight strikeouts in 38 career at-bats against Lincecum.

"We're probably not the only club in baseball that right now is trying to find its way a little bit offensively,'' manager Jim Tracy said. "I think the cure for that is to keep allowing a bunch of professional hitters to go up there and take at-bats. At some point and time, I guarantee you we'll get that squared away.''

Helton is batting .364 (12 for 33) with three doubles and a home run against Lincecum.

Guthrie, acquired from Baltimore in the offseason, is set to make his first appearance at Coors Field after giving up three runs in seven innings of a 5-3 win at Houston on Friday.

What to Read Next