Joe Mahoney/Associated Press
Joe Mahoney/Associated Press
DENVER – For a pitcher known for his stoic reputation, Jeff Francis showed rare emotion on the mound Monday night.
After striking out Shane Victorino to escape a jam in the fifth inning, Francis slightly pumped his fist. Just the excitement of the moment getting to him.
“Kind of the turning point in the game,” Francis said.
Francis and three relievers combined on a four-hitter as the Colorado Rockies beat Los Angeles 10-0 to spoil the Dodgers’ debut of Josh Beckett.
With pinpoint control of his fastball, Francis (5-4) scattered three hits in five innings and struck out a season-high six. Relievers Josh Roenicke, Rex Brothers and Matt Belisle closed out the game with Belisle pitching 1 2/3 innings to earn his second save of the season.
Asked if this was one of his most memorable wins, Francis just grinned.
“It’s funny, you know, because it’s only five innings. In the world of starting pitchers, it’s really nothing to get excited about,” Francis said. “Within our role on this team, it’s our job. That’s what we go out there to do. So, it is very satisfying.
“It’s weird to stand here and think I did a really good job – I threw five innings.”
Yeah, but he stymied a powerful Dodgers lineup.
No more so than in the fifth, when he gave up a one-out single to Luis Cruz and a double to A.J. Ellis. Francis worked his way out of the jam by striking out Beckett and then Victorino – on a 68-mph curveball.
“I was able to make a few pitches here and there,” Francis said nonchalantly.
Beckett (0-1) was decent in his first outing with Los Angeles, but he needed to be dazzling.
The right-hander was acquired in a nine-player megadeal deal with the Boston Red Sox over the weekend. His career in Los Angeles got off to an inauspicious start as he gave up a leadoff homer to Tyler Colvin on his second pitch, a 91-mph fastball that Colvin hit into the second deck.
He allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings as the Dodgers fell 2½ games behind idle San Francisco in the NL West.
“I’ve only been here a couple of days,” Beckett said. “I’m still feeling things out. As I move forward, I’ll get more comfortable.”
Colvin had a big day, adding a two-run triple as part of a seven-run eighth inning that broke open a tight game. Wilin Rosario added a two-run homer in the inning.
With Francis and Beckett on the mound, this was a rematch of Game 1 of the 2007 World Series. In that game, Beckett went seven innings and allowed one run en route to a 13-1 win. It set the tone for the series as Boston swept the Rockies.
Since that time, Francis underwent shoulder surgery that sidelined him for all of 2009, spent last season with Kansas City and started this season in the minors for Cincinnati before returning to Colorado, which drafted him with the ninth overall pick in 2002.
In his tenure with the Rockies, Francis has been quite productive on the mound. He’s among the franchise’s all-time leaders in wins (60), starts (166), innings (965) and strikeouts (654).
“He had probably the best fastball he’s had since he’s been here,” manager Jim Tracy said. “The ball was coming out as well or better than any other start that he’s had up to this point. He was in the strike zone with all pitches.”
The Dodgers are hoping a change of scenery for Beckett results in a change of fortune. He struggled this season in Boston, going 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA.
Beckett was a key part of the Red Sox on their way to the 2007 World Series crown, but he also was the ringleader last year when the team struggled in September and missed a playoff spot on the final day of the season. Reports of players drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games surfaced afterward, and Beckett’s bombastic demeanor aggravated fans.
But that’s all in the past for Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly, who said before the game that Beckett gets “a little bit of a do-over, for a guy that’s coming from a place that there is a negative vibe all around him.”
After the game, Mattingly said he liked what he saw.
“(Beckett) did what we ask our guys to do,” Mattingly said. “We just couldn’t do anything for him.”