Francis has bright spots in rough start

Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis’ stat line was rough — six runs, four earned, and six hits in four innings of Saturday’s 11-10 victory over the Angels.

In the second, Francis gave up four doubles in a five-batter stretch. Third baseman Melvin Mora spent that inning diving toward the line at hard-hit balls and coming up with nothing. That as because Francis was missing low with his breaking ball and changeup, and hitters were sitting on a fastball that isn’t sharp yet.

But it wasn’t cause for depression.

Francis struck out Robb Quinlan with the bases loaded and one out in the first. He forced Terry Evans into a grounder to shortstop Clint Barmes; however, second baseman Jonathan Herrera lost Barmes’ potentially inning-ending throw in the glare of the metal bleachers and two runs scored.

After the rough second inning, Francis pitched scoreless ball in the third and fourth. He finished with five strikeouts.

Francis realizes he’s still regaining his sharpness after missing last season because of left shoulder surgery.

“Today wasn’t as good as the last time, but I’ve come a long way since the first time out,” he said. “I keep doing things in between starts to help me.

“I can take those last two innings and look at them and say I battled pretty good with not having everything in my pocket.”

Manager Jim Tracy commended Francis on battling through his inconsistencies.

“There’s a lesson to be learned from this,” Tracy said. “I spoke a lot about this last year. You’re not going to be perfect every time you go out there. Figure something out to try to keep us hanging in there, and keep us in the game.”

Francis has two more Cactus League starts. However, with an early day off in the regular schedule, the Rockies have the option of keeping Francis in Tucson for a little more work before he’s needed in the rotation.

 

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