The Braves won't have struggling slugger Jason Heyward on Tuesday - and for a while longer - as these teams play a split doubleheader following the third postponement at Coors Field this season.
After averaging 5.2 runs while opening 12-1, Atlanta has dropped four of five. Having scored nine runs while batting .195 over that stretch, the Braves (13-5) are coming off their third straight loss, 4-2 at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
"We're just not capitalizing on our opportunities offensively," said manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose team dropped to 0-5 when not homering. "We're not getting that big hit when we need it. We're not catching any breaks either, like a broken-bat hit or a pitch going to the backstop. It'll turn around, though."
To make things worse, Atlanta found out Monday it will be without Heyward for a while after the right fielder had an appendectomy. Heyward, hitting just .121 with two homers, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday. Gonzalez said there's no set timetable for his return.
The Braves could get a boost from cleanup hitter Freddie Freeman , who is expected to be activated from the DL after going 5 for 10 with two doubles during a three-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett.
Freeman was 7 for 17 with a homer and seven RBIs before suffering a strained right oblique April 6. Dan Uggla should also be available after sitting out Sunday due to a strained left calf.
The Braves and Colorado (13-5) rank among the major league leaders in homers, and the Rockies are near the top with a .482 slugging percentage and 104 runs.
Colorado had opened a franchise-best 8-0 at home and won eight straight overall before falling 5-4 to Arizona on Sunday. Troy Tulowitzki went 2 for 4 with his sixth homer, but the Rockies gave up three runs over the last two innings - including two in the ninth - with closer Rafael Betancourt unavailable after pitching the previous two days.
"This is a good team and we battle every single game," said Carlos Gonzalez , batting a team-high .364. "If you're going to lose your winning streak, it's better to do it the way we did today, playing good baseball. We just had one bad inning at the end."
Colorado could have a hard time regrouping versus Atlanta, which has won seven of eight and 12 of 15 in the series. The Braves are batting .327 and have scored 38 runs during a four-game winning streak in Denver.
Atlanta now gives the ball to Mike Minor (2-1, 0.95 ERA), who was scheduled to start Monday's series opener before it was postponed due to bad weather.
The left-hander, who has struck out 16 and walked one over his first three starts, gave up one run and five hits over six innings in a 1-0 loss to Kansas City on Wednesday.
Minor allowed a career-high eight runs over five innings at Colorado on May 5 before giving up one hit and striking out seven in seven innings of a 1-0 home win over the Rockies on Sept. 5.
The Rockies counter with Jeff Francis (1-1, 8.25), who's allowed 15 runs - 10 earned - 16 hits and six walks over his last two starts spanning six innings. The left-hander is 3-2 with a 6.49 ERA in five outings against the Braves, but he hasn't faced them since 2007.
Francis will need to be cautious with Justin Upton , who's gone 8 for 22 with two homers in their matchups. The slugging left fielder, who has nine home runs, is batting .341 with five homers and 16 RBIs over his last 25 games against the Rockies.
Julio Teheran (0-0, 7.31) gets the ball for the Braves in the nightcap. The right-hander has allowed at least four runs in all three starts this season and given up five homers in 16 innings, but the Braves have come away with a win each time.
Teheran will be opposed by Jon Garland (2-0, 3.32). The right-hander has notched three quality starts in as many outings, including Thursday against the Mets when he allowed two runs over seven innings of an 11-3 win at home.
"So far, he's been real good at pitching down and his sinker is even better than I thought it was," manager Walt Weiss said. "He knows what he's doing out there. He's got a plan."
Garland, 3-1 with a 3.55 ERA in five career starts at Coors Field, is 1-2 with a 7.25 ERA in four starts against the Braves. He's held Upton and Uggla to a combined six hits in 30 at-bats.
|April 23, 2013||Jason Heyward||Day-to-Day||Appendectomy|
|April 20, 2013||Dan Uggla||Day-to-Day||Left game - left calf strain|
|April 20, 2013||Blake DeWitt||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|April 16, 2013||Luis Avilan||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring injury|
|April 07, 2013||Cristhian Martinez||15-Day DL||Right shoulder strain|
|April 07, 2013||Freddie Freeman||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|April 20, 2013||Jhoulys Chacin||15-Day DL||Left lower back strain|
|February 14, 2013||Edwar Cabrera||60-Day DL||Left shoulder impingement|
DENVER (AP) -- The coldest day ever at Coors Field was short-sleeve weather for Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Minor .
Starting a day-night doubleheader that opened with the temperature at 23 degrees, Justin Upton hit his major league-leading 10th home run, Dan Uggla and rookie Evan Gattis also connected in support of Minor's solid outing and the Braves beat the Colorado Rockies 4-3 Tuesday.
Reed Johnson , playing right field for Atlanta because Jason Heyward underwent an appendectomy Monday night, went 4 for 4 with three doubles. Heyward was put on the 15-day disabled list.
The matchup featured baseball's hottest teams - Colorado and Atlanta each began the day at 13-5, tied for the best record in the major leagues - in the coldest gametime temperature in the majors since it began collecting data in 1991, according to STATS. The Rockies said the previous low at Coors Field was 28.
"I think that one is going to be short-lived," Braves said manager Fredi Gonzalez said between games. "I think the next one is going to break the record."
Donning a short-sleeve jersey with his standard T-shirt underneath while many of the other players were bundled up, Minor (3-1) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. He said he decided against warmer attire because he wanted the same freedom of movement he feels with his arms uncovered.
"I don't know what it is, but with (long) sleeves on, I feel restricted," he said. "It's just a feeling and you want to feel comfortable out there."
To a degree, anyway.
"It was all right," Minor said. "The biggest thing was grip, just being cold and dry. I pretty much just battled through it."
At one point, Minor admitted he got so cold that he had a trainer rub his back, arms and thighs with a heating ointment.
"I was burning up there," he said with a smile.
Upton said giving Minor an early lead helped.
"You always want to get ahead," Upton said. "Let Mike settle in and know that he doesn't have to be too perfect."
Especially on a day like this.
By the time Craig Kimbrel , pitched a one-hit ninth for his eighth save in eight chances, the temperature had warmed up to 27.
"You can't feel your hands when you go up there. You have to continue your focus and concentrate," said the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez .
Upton felt the same way.
"It's more in your hands," he said. "You use your hands a lot in the game and that's the worst part - your hands get a little cold. But if you can keep your hands warm and keep them feeling the bat and the ball, you'll be fine."
Gattis hit a tiebreaking home run in the fourth and ended the game by throwing out Wilin Rosario trying to steal second.
Jeff Francis (1-2) gave up four runs and six hits in four innings, leaving him with an 8.44 ERA.
"The ball was slick," Francis said. "That's why I didn't throw my curveball. But there's no excuse"
Ground crews began working at around 6 a.m. to clear several inches of snow from the playing surface at Coors Field, which opened in 1995. While there was no sign of snow on the field when the game started, some parts of the ballpark remained closed, including the snow-filled Rockpile section in center. Workers hosed off the snow on the stand of evergreen trees beyond the center field wall. It was important that the trees be cleared of the snow because they're part of the green "batters' eye" background.
It's been a wintry April for Denver, which has been hit by a wave of snowy weather over the past nine days that forced postponements of games three times. The delays led to two doubleheaders within a week.
Upton hit a solo drive in the first, and Uggla's two-run homer in the second made it 3-0. Colorado closed in the second on Rosario's run-scoring groundout and Jordan Pacheco 's RBI single, then tied the score in the third when Dexter Fowler tripled to the right-field wall and Josh Rutledge singled.
Gattis homered leading off the fourth.
NOTES: The announced crowd was 19,124. ... INF Tyler Pastornicky was recalled from Triple A Gwinnett to fill Heyward's roster spot. ... Gattis leads all major league rookies with six home runs. ... Rutledge stole his fifth base, adding to the Rockies league-leading total of 17. ... The Rockies were 0-3 at home against the Braves last year and 1-6 overall.