Eric Lauer is brimming with confidence thanks to the six-week stretch he is on -- 3-0 in his last seven starts while yielding more than three runs in only one of them.
San Diego's 24-year-old left-hander Lauer is establishing himself in the Padres rotation in his second season with the club, but he has one obstacle left to conquer -- pitching well at Coors Field.
Lauer gets the chance when he takes the mound against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night in Denver. Lauer (8-8, 4.41 ERA) will face Colorado rookie Peter Lambert (2-6, 6.86), who is looking for his first win in more than three months.
Lauer and Lambert squared off in San Diego on Sunday, a 2-1 Padres victory in 10 innings. Both starters pitched well, with Lauer going six innings and giving up one run on four hits. His only mistake was allowing an RBI single in the third but he was able to shut down the Rockies after that.
Lambert was nearly as effective, giving up one run on five hits in five innings. But his no-decision extended his winless streak to 16 starts. He won his first two, both against the Chicago Cubs five days apart but he has gone 0-6 with nine no-decisions since.
Two of those nine starts have come against San Diego, the first in his third career start when he was roughed up for eight runs in three innings. Overall, he has allowed nine runs (10.13 ERA) in eight career innings against the Padres.
In his start prior to last Sunday he was shelled in Los Angeles by the Dodgers, allowing six runs in 1 2/3 innings, but the rough outings haven't deterred the 22-year-old Lambert.
"The only way to learn is if you keep pitching," he told The Denver Post. "I'm learning a lot right now, and that's best for me."
Lambert has gotten an extended stay in the rotation due to injuries and ineffectiveness by Colorado's projected starters. All five pitchers who began the season in the rotation are in the injured list.
Like Lambert, Lauer is learning by pitching, and the lessons have been tough against the Rockies. He is 0-3 with an 8.75 ERA in six career starts against Colorado, but the numbers get worse when he pitches in Denver. His three losses have all come there, and he has compiled a 19.73 ERA at Coors Field. He has allowed 19 earned runs in just 8 2/3 innings and has never pitched beyond the third inning.
That hasn't worried San Diego manager Andy Green, who has no problem trotting Lauer out to the mound in the second game of the series. He's hoping his pitcher can break through in a ballpark that has vexed him to date.
"I want to see Eric Lauer turn the page and have success here as well," Green said before Friday's game.
--Field Level Media