03/31/08 8:41 PM ET
Rain washes away Francis' rough outing
Rescheduled for Tuesday at 6:15 p.m. MT
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Francis was trailing the Cardinals, 5-1, with one out in the bottom of the third when rain hit and forced the postponement of Opening Day at Busch Stadium. By that point, Francis had walked five and given up five hits, including Albert Pujols' homer in the second inning. He started the game with 10 straight balls, and 17 in his first 19 pitches.
Now, none of that counts. It's as if Francis never took the mound. Righty Kip Wells, who pitched for the Cards last season, will start for the Rockies against righty Kyle Lohse on Tuesday.
"It's hard to explain what happened out there," Francis said. "It was extraordinarily terrible.
"I might be the luckiest guy on the planet today."
How bad was it?
Francis, who has led the Rockies in victories for three straight years, has never walked more than six in a game. After walking Cezar Izturis in the third, he was one away from the personal worst. Then the skies opened. After a one-hour, 29-minute rain delay, his 19.29 ERA was officially washed away.
"Might have been Opening Day jitters, I don't know," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "That's not the Jeff we are accustomed to seeing. We've seen him get hit, but not have trouble throwing strikes.
"He was almost so deliberate that he didn't get to the point he needed to get to [in his release]."
Some of the pitches early were close, but Francis wasn't about to complain about plate umpire Randy Marsh's strike zone.
"Whether there were some pitches close or not, that's irrelevant -- I wasn't close most of the time, so I can't be out there begging for strikes," he said.
Garrett Atkins' fielder's choice with the bases loaded and one down in the first against Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright gave the Rockies a 1-0 lead.
Francis walked the first two batters and went 2-0 against Pujols, who swung through one pitch then lined to left field. But Rick Ankiel knocked a two-run double to right field, and Yadier Molina skipped a two-run single past first baseman Todd Helton, who fell awkwardly trying to make the play. Pujols homered with two down in the second.
"There's a lot of stuff to figure out," said Francis, who fashioned a 3.00 ERA in Spring Training. "I just wasn't able to figure anything out today."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.