Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood and Giants righty Matt Cain have had to ease into the season, for different reasons. Both hope to be at full stride when they meet in Wednesday's finale of a three-game set at Coors Field, with the Rockies seeking a sweep.
Chatwood missed his first two starts with a left hamstring strain. Since returning, he has been efficient.
Chatwood needed just 74 pitches to go six innings in giving up four runs against the Giants at AT&T Park on April 13. He made just a couple of costly pitches, and he was removed for offensive purposes in a game the Rockies eventually lost in extra innings.
On Friday night, Chatwood held the Phillies to two hits and an unearned run on 88 pitches while earning his first victory, a 12-1 decision in the opener of the current homestand.
Any start at Coors seems to be comfortable for Chatwood, who is 10-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 21 games, including 17 starts. The ERA is third-lowest among pitchers with 10 or more starts at Coors, behind former Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez (3.67) and 2014 Hall of Famer Tom Glavine (3.68).
Cain (0-3, 2.88 ERA in four starts) began slowly, giving up eight runs (seven earned) in his first two starts over 11 innings on 13 hits and two walks. He yielded three homers in a six-inning, five-run outing at Los Angeles.
Cain found his form in his last two starts, allowing just one earned run over 14 innings while walking five and striking out 16.
He faced the Rockies in his only home start, throwing seven innings of one-run ball in a game the Giants lost 1-0.
Cain has generally done well against the Rockies, posting a 17-8 record with a 3.15 ERA in 32 starts.
Giants: Using a power-hitting tandem at No. 2
The absence of second baseman Marco Scutaro from the lineup, with a lower back strain that has kept him out all season, has found manager Bruce Bochy using a power-hitting tandem in the two-hole, with Hunter Pence batting second against left-handers and Brandon Belt filling the slot with right-handers on the hill.
Belt hit .289 with 17 homers and 67 RBIs in his sophomore season of 2013, and entered play Wednesday hitting .305 with six homers and 11 RBIs.
"We'll see how we go here," Bochy said of Belt's place in the lineup. "At some point he could go in the three-hole and stay there.
"I think the second half [of last season], the early go here, he looks like he's ready to take it to another level. We're in April still. As we get in this, Belt could be a stabilizer in the lineup in that three-hole."
Belt batted sixth against lefthander Franklin Morales on Tuesday, going 1-for-3 with a walk against the starter while Pence was 2-for-4 with a homer, accounting for the Giants' lone run.
Bochy has expressed no interest in going back to a more traditional table-setter in the two-hole.
"We'll stick with this plan right now, with Belt and Pence going back and forth," Bochy said.
Rockies: Time to rest CarGo?
It's difficult for manager Walt Weiss to rest left-handed slugger Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez has had precious little success against Cain -- 4-for-44 with seven walks and 17 strikeouts. Yet, Gonzalez is often swinging well going into those games, so Weiss includes him.
But this appears to be as good a time as any to rest Gonzalez.
In Tuesday night's win, Gonzalez reached on an infield single to go 1-for-4. He is in a lengthy slump that not even the homestand (3-for-15) has cured. Since suffering left knee tendinitis running the bases Sunday, the contact hasn't been hard, either.
Wednesday also occurs before an off-day -- just the second one for the Rockies this season. So Gonzalez could take two days to rest the knee.
• Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, hitting .441, did not start Tuesday's game against Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner, much to the chagrin of fantasy players and social media. But the Rockies won, and if form holds, it could pay off Wednesday.
The five previous times that Blackmon has sat, he has hit 16-for-23 (.696) when returning to the lineup.
• The Giants went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position Tuesday night and are 3-for-40 (.075) over the last six games.
• Bumgarner on Tuesday night became the second pitcher in Coors Field history to throw a complete game and hold the opponent to two or fewer runs in a losing decision. Jason Jennings lost to the Cardinals, 1-0, on an Albert Pujols home run on July 25, 2006.
• The Rockies' Nolan Arenado, who has homered in the last two games, has gone 19-for-52 (.365) with four doubles, two home runs, six RBIs and five runs during his career-best 13-game hit streak.
•: Hunter Pence homered for the Giants' only run Tuesday night. Since joining the Giants in 2012, his seven homers against the Rockies are the second-most by any opposing player. The Giants' Buster Posey has 10 in that period.