Matzek overcomes early jitters, cruises to pick up first win

Rox starters hold Giants to 1 run in series sweep

Matzek overcomes early jitters, cruises to pick up first win

SAN FRANCISCO -- While Rockies fans likely worried about lefty Tyler Matzek's scattershot control for the first two innings Wednesday night, he experienced peace -- and trust -- in the dugout.

"For the most part, it's a quick 'Good job,' or 'Let's think about doing this next time,' but not much," said Matzek, who confirmed the Rockies' belief that he'd find a way. He did, settling down for six solid innings of one-run ball in a 4-2 victory that completed a three-game sweep at AT&T Park and ran the Rockies to 6-0 on the road.

Matzek (1-0) hit Giants leadoff man Nori Aoki in the bottom of the first, creating flashbacks to his first start of the season, when he hit the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo twice and completed just four innings.

While Matzek gave up a run and threw 26 pitches in that first inning, he found enough efficiency to stretch his 93 pitches through six innings.

"Sometimes it just takes a little time to find your rhythm," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.

It was an odd but ultimately satisfying series for Rockies starting pitching. Eddie Butler threw 93 pitches in five innings Monday afternoon and spot starter Christian Bergman needed 84 to make it through four Tuesday night. But the run scored off Matzek was the only one the Giants managed against any of the starters.

Knowing that the bullpen had eaten a game's worth of innings the previous two games, Matzek understood he had to stay on the mound. And in his second season, he demonstrated that he knew how to do it.

Last year when he was in trouble, catcher Michael McKenry would start calling for changeups. McKenry started Wednesday and made the same call, and Matzek understood why.

"It's just a good pitch to contact," Matzek said. "It just looks good to a hitter and it's enough to just miss the barrel. That's the whole point of the pitch. I feel comfortable throwing it in the zone."

Matzek's fifth inning represented a breakthrough. Gregor Blanco led off with a triple to center, but didn't move from there. Matzek used his slider to force infield bouncers from Aoki and Matt Duffy, and maintained his 4-1 cushion.

"The whole point of the game is to not let runs cross the plate," Matzek said. "Nobody cares if there's a runner on third, runner at second. If they don't cross the plate, it doesn't mean anything. Keep them there. That's how you win the baseball game.

"When you have that mindset, it gives you comfort. All you've got to do is execute a couple of pitches and that guy getting a triple is almost erased. You don't have to worry about it."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.