Weaver takes mound at Coors for streaking Cardinals

DENVER -- The St. Louis Cardinals will send rookie Luke Weaver to the mound as they try to sweep their three-game series Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies.

Weaver, 23, is 1-3 with a 3.21 ERA in seven starts, the last on Friday at San Francisco, where he gave up five hits and six unearned runs in 2 2/3 innings and lost 8-2.

Weaver, who made his major league debut Aug. 13, will be pitching for the first time at Coors Field. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny emphatically said he would not talk to Weaver about the mile-high altitude, the spacious outfield or anything that might be lurking at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

"I'm not going to fill his mind, and I'm going to discourage anybody else from doing the same thing," Matheny said. "Just go do your thing, and we'll make adjustments as we need to and we'll try to keep an eye (out for) when something doesn't look right. But to kind of pre-set in his mind that he's going to have to do something different, I think, is a bad strategy."

The Cardinals have won four straight games and are tied with the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants in the race for the two National League wild-card spots. The Cardinals' spurt has made the scoreboard watching more riveting and, at Coors Field, more unavoidable.

"From where my angle is (in the dugout) and where the pitcher's head is, right behind it is the scoreboard," Matheny said, referring to the out-of-town scoreboard in right field. "I mean directly behind it, so you can't help but watch and to see what's going on with the other teams."

That said, after Tuesday night's 10-5 win over the Rockies, Matheny repeated the Cardinals' mantra when it comes to scoreboard watching.

"It's not something we run from. It's just not something we put too much focus on," Matheny said. "Control what we can control. Same boring stuff, but it keeps it very simple what our job description is."

Like the Cardinals, the Rockies are also starting a rookie in German Marquez, 21. He made his major league debut Sept. 8 and will be making his first major league start after three relief appearances. He's 0-3 with a 5.06 ERA in those three games, the last two scoreless for a combined three innings.

"I'm very excited I'm going to be a starter. That's unbelievable," Marquez said. "I want to help my team, too. That's why I'm here. I'm going to do it."

The Rockies acquired Marquez from Tampa Bay along with reliever Jake McGee in the Jan. 28 trade that sent outfielder Corey Dickerson and minor league third baseman Kevin Padlo to the Rays. Marquez said he was surprised to be traded, since the Rays had placed him on their 40-man roster for the first time two months before the deal.

Marquez was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year after going 9-6 with a 2.85 ERA, 33 walks and 126 strikeouts in 135 2/3 innings for Double-A Hartford. He then went 2-0 with a 4.35 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Albuquerque before being recalled by the Rockies.

Marquez's repertoire includes a fastball, curveball and changeup. The first two pitches are above average and the third will be. Marquez's changeup was a point of emphasis this season, specifically to not slow his arm speed and keep it the same as his fastball while throwing his changeup.

"The thing that jumps out at you is its easy velocity -- upper 90s," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "There's not a lot of effort. He's got great finish (on the fastball). He's got a good breaking ball. The changeup is a work in progress right now, but it's coming. But for a 21-year-old kid -- very, very impressive."

In addition to his stuff, Marquez has impressed the Rockies with his mound presence.

"We saw that right away in spring training, unaffected by the major league atmosphere," Weiss said. "Always looked like he belonged. It says something for a kid his age, (coming to) a new organization, too. That's not easy.

"The few outings he's had here the last few weeks, same thing. Very composed. Very poised."