MON@COL: Young hits the first homer in Mile High

SAN FRANCISCO -- Colorado Rockies hitting coach Dante Bichette celebrated an anniversary of sorts Tuesday.

It was 20 years ago that Bichette was on a Rockies expansion team that played the first Major League game in Colorado.

The Rockies beat the Montreal Expos, 11-4, before a crowd of 80,227 at Mile High Stadium, a Major League attendance record for a home opener that still stands. The victory on April 9, 1993, was the first in Rockies history.

"What I remember is 80,000 people," Bichette said. "Electric."

Eric Young Sr. homered for the Rockies in the first inning. Bryn Smith got the win. And Bichette? He went 1-for-3 and drove in a pair of runs.

Bichette said he remembers former team owner Jerry McMorris talking to the team before the game, saying, "'The sky's the limit for you guys here. People are here. They love baseball.'

"We were a bunch of misfits, an expansion team, coming from all over the place. It was a lot of fun. It was a good time to be a Rockie. It will be tough to match those days for Colorado. It was beautiful, for Denver and Colorado.

"A lot of people were wondering if we could support baseball. We were supporting baseball. We were filling it up. That whole year was a beautiful year."

Bichette, who played seven seasons for the Rockies and 14 overall in the big leagues, is in his first season on the Rockies' Major League staff. He said it's hard to believe 20 years have passed since that first game in Denver.

"My knees are feeling it," he joked. "And my eyes are feeling it. It was a long time ago, but this year, we've had one homestand, and some of the same people are still there. Some of the same fans are still there."

Rockies getting solid work from rotation

SD@COL: Chacin solid through 6 2/3 quality innings

SAN FRANCISCO -- Quality starts have become the rule instead of the exception for the Colorado Rockies this season.

The Rockies had six quality starts in their first seven games, and their rotation boasted the seventh-best ERA in baseball at 3.02 to go with a 4-1 record entering Tuesday night's game against the San Francisco Giants.

No one is surprised that the Rockies lead the Majors in hitting with a sizzling .317 average, but who saw this coming from their rotation, especially one that has three starts already at hitter-friendly Coors Field?

"I think those guys are better than people think, and they're healthy," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said before Game 2 in a three-game series against the Giants. "That's probably the biggest factor."

Jhoulys Chacin is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA and two quality starts. Jeff Francis (1-0, 1.50) and Jon Garland (1-0, 3.00) produced quality starts in their debuts, as did Juan Nicasio (1-0, 3.00), who started Tuesday night against the Giants. Jorge De La Rosa (0-1, 6.10) was roughed up in his debut at Milwaukee but had a quality start Monday against the Giants, allowing three earned runs over six innings in a 4-2 loss.

"We've done well so far," Francis said. "There were some things that we concentrated on, that we focused on in Spring Training. We did it well at Spring Training, and our goal was to take that into the season. Through seven games, I think we have."

What was on the starting pitchers' to-do list?

"Focusing on getting hitters to hit the ball on the ground," Francis said. "It's pretty obvious every pitcher tries to do that, but I think we put a focus on it. Being able to throw secondary pitches for strikes and working quick. I think as pitchers we try to keep it as simple as we can. So far it's worked."

Weiss said he's starting to expect a quality start every game.

"Yeah. Our starters have done an outstanding job," Weiss said. "They've all given us a chance to win. I thought Jorge did a great job last night. Gave up the quick three-spot but then really shut them down. Kept us in the game and gave us a chance."

Worth noting

• With Carlos Gonzalez at the plate, Rockies outfielder Eric Young Jr. was picked off and caught trying to steal second in the third inning of Colorado's 4-2 loss to the Giants on Monday night. Moments later, Gonzalez homered to deep right.

Even so, Weiss said he's not about to give Young the stop sign.

"We want to be smart about picking out spots," Weiss said before Tuesday night's game. "We want to keep in mind that the guy at the plate can hit the ball out of the park. That's a factor. But again, that's part of E.Y.'s game. He thought he had something, and he took off. We've preached that, having guys playing with that kind of freedom all spring, and I'm not going to take that away from them. I have enough confidence in our guys that do run that they'll pick their spots at the right time."

• After back-to-back days out of the lineup, first baseman Todd Helton started against the Giants and right-hander Tim Lincecum. Helton entered the game hitting .359 against Lincecum with a .479 on-base percentage.