Jhoulys Chacin was off to one of the best starts of his career while helping the Colorado Rockies begin the season on a roll, but the team hasn't won back-to-back games since an injury forced him to miss multiple outings.
Chacin hopes to change that trend Sunday when he returns from a stint on the disabled list as the Rockies host the Tampa Bay Rays in the conclusion of a three-game interleague series.
Colorado began the season 13-4, with Chacin (3-0, 1.46 ERA) allowing four runs in 24 2-3 innings over four starts. The right-hander, though, left his last outing April 19 with a strained back after giving up three hits in 6 1-3 scoreless innings of a 3-1 win over Arizona.
Chacin threw 60 pitches in a simulated game against minor leaguers Tuesday before throwing a bullpen session Wednesday, and he said he's feeling much better.
"Everything is good," Chacin told the team's official website. "I have no problems. I just missed two starts, so I'll do the same thing I was doing - throw strikes, get hitters out, let the defense help me."
The Rockies (18-12) have gone 5-8 since an eight-game win streak, which ended two days after Chacin got hurt, though he's confident the team will get back on track.
"I know the talent that we have, and we're showing it," Chacin said. "We're playing together. Some days we don't hit, but we pitch. Some days we don't pitch well, but we hit. That's how good teams put things together."
The right-hander has never faced Tampa Bay, though Kelly Johnson is 5 for 14 with two homers in his career off Chacin.
Johnson had a two-run single Saturday, giving him eight RBIs in the last six games, but the Rays fell 9-3 for their third loss in four games.
Carlos Gonzalez homered for Colorado and Troy Tulowitzki, 9 for 18 with four doubles and 10 RBIs over his last seven games, went 3 for 3 and drove in three runs.
Nolan Arenado hit a grand slam, giving him two homers and seven RBIs in six games since making his major league debut last Sunday.
"It's a good feeling," Arenado said. "But the main thing is we got the win. So, that was nice."
The Rays (13-16) are 3-5 on their road trip that ends Sunday. James Loney, though, went 3 for 4 with a double Saturday and is 15 for 31 on the trip.
Shortstop Yunel Escobar, hitting only .174, was hit with a pitch on the left wrist in the second inning and was forced to leave the game. He likely won't play Sunday.
"I thought I broke it. I'm happy and grateful it's not broke," Escobar said. "I'll try hard to get back on the field in a couple of days."
Alex Cobb (3-2, 2.55) will take the mound for the Rays looking to bounce back from his worst start of the season.
Six days after going 8 1-3 innings in a 3-0 win over the New York Yankees, Cobb allowed four runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-2 loss at Kansas City on Tuesday.
"When I walked off the mound, I think that was the most angry I've ever been after a game," said Cobb, who had pitched into the seventh inning in each of his previous four starts.
The right-hander has never faced the Rockies, though he's 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in four interleague starts.