Christian Friedrich's major league debut last week went smoothly for the Colorado Rockies. Whether he'll be a mainstay in their rotation remains to be seen, but Friedrich can make a strong case for that tonight against the San Francisco Giants in the opener of a two-game set.
A young left-hander out of Eastern Kentucky and Colorado's first-round pick in the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Friedrich picked the minds of pitchers Jamie Moyer, Mike Hampton and Cliff Lee to improve his performance and so far it has paid off for at least one start. Friedrich faced San Diego last Wednesday in a 6-2 win and hurled six solid innings, allowing two runs, one of which was earned, and five hits with seven strikeouts and one walk.
"This kid has worked really hard and gotten himself into a really good place," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "He did exactly what I thought he was going to do from what I thought in Spring Training -- establish his fastball, pitch with his fastball and mix in his breaking stuff."
Friedrich, who began the year 2-0 with a 3.00 earned run average in five starts with Triple-A Colorado Springs, will make his home debut tonight and will get a taste of the NL West-rival Giants for the first time.
Colorado could use another strong outing from Friedrich after fellow youngster Alex White was pelted in Sunday's 11-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the finale of a three-game series. White couldn't help his teammates avoid the sweep and was reached for six runs on five hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings.
"Embarrassing. We did everything to set the stage for them to beat us," said Tracy. "You walk nine guys from the fifth inning on, you're going to lose."
Carlos Gonzalez drove in a pair of runs and Marco Scutaro finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI for the Rockies, losers in eight of their last nine games. Colorado fell to 1-5 on an eight-game road trip.
San Francisco is back in the Bay Area to open a seven-game homestand and is coming off a series victory at Arizona. The Giants took the last two portions of a three-game series in the desert, including Sunday's 7-3 victory behind six decent innings from Barry Zito. Zito held the Diamondbacks to three runs over six innings for the win (2-1).
Brett Pill hit a two-run homer, Gregor Blanco knocked in three runs and Melky Cabrera added an RBI and four hits to help the Giants complete a six-game road trip with a 3-3 record. Cabrera is riding an 11-game hitting streak in which he is batting .468 with two doubles, three triples, a home run and six RBI.
"The boys did well," remarked Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "They had some good at bats. They didn't try to do too much up there. They kept the line moving and Pill got a hold of one to help out the cause."
The Giants set a season high in hits with 14 and will pin pitching duties on Ryan Vogelsong tonight. Vogelsong registered his first win of the season in last Tuesday's 2-1 decision against the Dodgers and tossed 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball with only one strikeout and three walks. He has lasted at least six innings in each of his five starts, going 1-2 with a 2.94 ERA.
Vogelsong, a right-hander, has yet to win in two starts at home this season, but is unbeaten (4-0) in nine career games, four of which have been starts, against the Rockies.
San Francisco will also welcome St. Louis and Oakland to AT&T Park on this homestand and won two of three meetings with the Rockies from April 9-12 this season at Coors Field. The Giants have won nine of the previous 11 matchups between the two NL West inhabitants.