The Colorado Rockies didn't get the start they were hoping for from their ace on opening day, but Jorge De La Rosa helped get them back on track Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Unfortunately, both Colorado starters emerged from their debuts ailing.
Jhoulys Chacin looks to build off his strong rookie season - and a particularly outstanding final eight starts - and stay healthy when he takes the mound Sunday afternoon at Coors Field as the Rockies and Diamondbacks decide their three-game series.
Ubaldo Jimenez had a rocky outing Friday as Arizona (1-1) picked up a 7-6, 11-inning win, before De La Rosa picked up the slack for Colorado's ace Saturday. The left-hander held the Diamondbacks to three hits over 5 1-3 scoreless innings before leaving with a blister, but he'd done enough to lift the Rockies (1-1) to a 3-1 victory.
"I thought we had a better chance when he came out of the game, but came up short," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said.
De La Rosa's blister cropped up one night after Jimenez sustained a cracked cuticle on this right thumb that could force him to miss his next start.
If Chacin (4-2, 1.44 ERA) pitches anything like he did toward the end of 2010, Colorado should be in good shape. The right-hander shifted between the bullpen and rotation when he first arrived from Triple-A in late April, but went 4-2 with a 1.44 ERA in his final eight outings down the stretch.
"I really appreciate the coaches and everybody, they take care of me and show confidence," Chacin told the Rockies' official website. "I just want to do the job. Last year was pretty good and I helped the team, but I want to help the team win more games, win the playoffs and win the World Series."
Chacin was solid in six spring starts, going 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA. He did, however, walk 11 in 23 innings.
Chacin went 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA in four starts against the Diamondbacks last season, including 11 2-3 innings without allowing an earned run after he re-entered the rotation for good.
Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton, who has three hits through this series' first two games, should have his work cut out for him Sunday. He's 0 for 8 against Chacin with seven strikeouts.
Arizona will give the ball to Joe Saunders (9-17, 4.47), who likely has nowhere to go but up after a spring training in which he went 1-3 with a 12.46 ERA in six starts.
Gibson said after Saunders' penultimate spring start that the pitcher wasn't guaranteed a spot in the rotation, but the left-hander got one anyway despite allowing eight runs - five earned - over 3 2-3 innings in his final outing.
Saunders went 3-7 with a 4.25 ERA in 13 starts after coming over from the Los Angeles Angels last season. He experienced two very different outings against Colorado.
He allowed seven runs - four earned - and lasted just 2 1-3 innings in a 13-4 loss at Coors Field on Sept. 10. It was a different story Sept. 21 in Phoenix, as Saunders surrendered one run over eight innings while striking out seven in a 3-1 Arizona win.
Rockies slugger Carlos Gonzalez, who has four hits so far in this series, is 2 for 12 against Saunders.
Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew has missed the first two games with an abdominal strain and is again unlikely to make his season debut Sunday.
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