10/02/07 6:15 PM ET
Francis looks to overcome Phils woes
Game 1 starter was hit hard in two starts vs. NL East champs
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
But just in case, the Rockies might want to hide the Phillies stat sheet.
The Rockies ace has 17 wins this year, but none of them came against Philadelphia, which battered him like no other club. The Phillies hit .465 against Francis in his two starts, tagging him for a 15.12 ERA with 14 earned runs and 20 hits in only 8 1/3 innings.
The Phillies probable starting lineup is 28-for-58 lifetime against Francis.
"That lineup, it doesn't seem like there's a break," Francis said during Tuesday's off-day conference. "The last time I faced them, [Shane] Victorino wasn't even in the lineup and it still seemed right up to the pitcher's spot, there wasn't a break."
The career success of Philadelphia hitters against Francis is stunning. Aaron Rowand is 6-for-8 with four doubles. Wes Helms is 6-for-9 with four doubles and a homer. Jimmy Rollins is 5-for-9 with a double. Pat Burrell is 3-for-8, Ryan Howard 2-for-5 and Chase Utley 2-for-8. Victorino is 1-for-3 with a double and fellow outfielder Jayson Werth is 3-for-10 with three doubles.
"Those guys, they have all had great years and they all have produced and they can all do it at any time," said Francis. "It's up to me to go out and it comes down to execution. If I can execute my pitches and the game plan that I come up with, then hopefully we can keep run totals low and come out on top.
"It's no secret they've got a great offense. It's a matter if I go out and execute. The two games I faced them, I didn't execute well. I walked a lot of guys and left some balls up. It might be a big scoring game, but I'm confident our offense can back us up and take a little of the pressure off me."
Citizens Bank Park has quickly become known as a modern-day band-box, and the Phillies lineup is tailored to suit it. Of course, you don't win 17 games when Coors Field is your home park unless you have the proper mentality for pitching in a hitter's haven. And Francis has that.
"Coming up with the Rockies, you know, people ask you about our ballpark, too," he said. "I guess you always kind of wait until you get there and you kind of realize that it's the same for both teams. So, if I do what I do and our offense does what they do, you, know, if we win 10-9, it's the same as winning 4-3. To me, it's all the same. If we come out with one more run than the other team, it's all the same to me."
Francis added that he's pitched better recently, a reference to three starts since his Sept. 13 disaster at Citizens Bank Park, when he allowed the Phillies eight earned runs and four walks in 3 1/3 innings, matching his shortest outing of the season.
That 12-4 loss was only a little worse than his July 6 no-decision in Denver, when he allowed six runs in five innings in a game the Rockies came back to win, 7-6.
Of course, those games were in the regular season. This is the first postseason appearance for the Rockies since 1995, and the first ever for Francis.
National League Division Series schedule
|Wed., Oct. 3||10 p.m.||Chase Field||TBS|
|Thu., Oct. 4||10 p.m.||Chase Field||TBS|
|Sat. Oct. 6||6 p.m.||Wrigley Field||TBS|
|*Sun. Oct. 7||1 p.m.||Wrigley Field||TNT|
|*Tue. Oct. 9||10 p.m.||Chase Field||TBS|
|Wed., Oct. 3||3 p.m.||Citizens Bank Park||TBS|
|Thu., Oct. 4||3 p.m.||Citizens Bank Park||TBS|
|Sat. Oct. 6||9:30 p.m.||Coors Field||TBS|
|*Sun. Oct. 7||10 p.m.||Coors Field||TBS|
|*Tue. Oct. 9||6:30 p.m.||Citizens Bank Park||TBS|
|* If necessary. All times ET.|
"Being my first postseason game, I'll just try to get myself ready for the excitement and the hype and not being surprised," he said. "I know it's going to be there. I've made first starts of the season and things where you might get surprised and the heart rate gets up and surprises you a little bit.
"I'll just try to get myself ready for those things and visualize the pitches I want to make going over the lineup in my head. I'll get to the ballpark tomorrow and go over the lineup with the catcher and pitching coach and go out and execute. That's the bottom line."
Francis' season was somewhat erratic. He was 1-4 in mid-May, but won 12 of his next 13 decisions. His lowest ERA months were May and June and his highest walk total was in September. The 215 1/3 innings he threw are a personal high in 3 1/2 Major League seasons, and he'll be working on normal four days' rest.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.