With a series victory on the line against the offensively challenged Padres, the Rockies are hoping Jair Jurrjens' second start for them will go better than his first.
In his first big league start in over a year, Jurrjens gave up 12 hits and eight earned runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Dodgers on July 4. After departing, Jurrjens had trouble breathing and ended up being hospitalized, which Rockies manager Walt Weiss attributed to both the high altitude in Denver and nerves.
"People react differently when they get here with the altitude and everything, so I think that was part of it," Weiss said. "But everything was moving pretty fast for him. All of a sudden, he was here and starting in a big league game again. I'm sure things were spinning."
Jurrjens had been acquired by Colorado just two days earlier in a trade with Cincinnati for Double-A first baseman Harold Riggins. The right-hander hasn't been effective at the big league level since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in 2011, when he was an All-Star for Atlanta.
Last week, in aiming for his first win in the Majors since 2012, Jurrjens had to oppose Clayton Kershaw and Los Angeles' star-studded lineup. His assignment on Wednesday will be significantly easier on paper, with the Padres sporting the worst offense in the Majors by nearly every statistical measure and Eric Stults, who leads the Major Leagues in losses (11), as his counterpart.
Stults, though, has recently shown positive signs since incorporating a faster tempo and a more pronounced leg kick into his delivery a couple weeks ago.
The lefty has given up just four earned runs across his last three starts spanning 19 1/3 innings (1.86 ERA) after compiling a 5.76 ERA in his first 15 starts this season.
The Padres did briefly consider replacing Stults in the rotation during his struggles, but decided to stick with him.
"[Pitching coach] Darren [Balsley] and I talked about it, but we didn't talk about it for very long because we know what he brings in terms of the stability, the preparation," manager Bud Black said. "From my perspective, there was a point where I thought it might do him some good to miss a start of two, but it never materialized."
His last outing against San Francisco yielded his first start with seven scoreless innings since August, 2012, and his first win since May 10.
"I've been in this game long enough to know you're going to hit stretches where you're not going to pitch well," Stults said. "You don't dwell on the bad ones. You move forward."
Padres: About those starters
With Tyson Ross throwing six innings of two-run baseball Tuesday against the Rockies, Padres' starting pitchers have held the opposition to eight runs over the last nine games spanning 59 2/3 innings since June 29, which equates to a 1.21 ERA -- the best mark in the big leagues during that stretch.
In fact, Ross' quality start on Tuesday night was arguably the worst outing any member of the rotation had during that span, which Black is hoping doesn't stop anytime soon. "You talk about hitters getting momentum, pitching staffs can get momentum, too," Black said. "Guys are aware of what's going on and they're watching other guys pitch, and they can gain confidence from that and I think that's what's happening."
Rockies: Carlos Gonzalez targeting Friday return
Rockies manager Walt Weiss hasn't spoken with Carlos Gonzalez since before he made his rehab debut with Triple-A Colorado Springs on Monday, but the All-Star outfielder's bat told him all he needed to hear with his bat that night.
After finishing with a double and a three-run home run in three at-bats vs. Round Rock, Weiss is confident Gonzalez will be back for the Rockies' final series before the All-Star Break against the Twins.
"We're shooting for Friday," Weiss said. "Hopefully with no setbacks, that will be the plan."
Following Monday's five-inning out, Gonzalez singled and scored a run in his second rehab start Tuesday. He'll likely play one more game Wednesday before heading back to Colorado during the Rockies' off-day Thursday.
Gonzalez has been out since June 3 with left index finger inflammation and had a benign tumor removed from that area on June 10. He was batting .255 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs in 52 games before landing on the disabled list.
• Jurrjens was the 13th different pitcher to start for the Rockies this season. Colorado's franchise record for most starters used in one season is 15 in 1993 (the Rockies' inaugural season).
• Only six current Padres have ever faced Jurrjens. Chase Headley has had the most success, going 3-for-7 with two doubles and two walks.
Will Laws is an associate reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him at @WillLaws. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.