Matzek pitched two-hit ball for the first seven innings of his big league debut before faltering in the eighth, and the Colorado Rockies beat the Atlanta Braves 8-2 on Wednesday night.
The left-hander retired the first 13 hitters and 21 of 23 before allowing three straight singles to start the eighth. His strong start to the game masked the jitters catcher Mike McKenry helped ease.
“The first inning was really, really nervous,” Matzek said. “Mac was calming me down, telling me it was the same thing as Triple-A, just go out there and play your game. I let it be a positive thing, not a negative thing. If I try to fight it, it turns into a negative thing so I was just embracing it.”
Matzek (1-0) allowed two runs on five hits and struck out seven in seven-plus innings. He also had his first hit and run scored. The Rockies had lost 11 of 12.
He is the third Colorado pitcher in the last six days to make his debut and the first to get a win.
“A masterful performance by Tyler. An explosive fastball and his slider looked like it disappeared,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “He had it all working. He commanded it. Very impressive.”
It was what the Rockies needed after they had lost 15 of 18. They broke out against Braves starter Julio Teheran, who had blanked them over six innings in Atlanta on May 25.
Teheran (6-4) entered Wednesday with a 1.89 ERA, best in the majors, but Colorado scored three in the first on Drew Stubbs’ RBI double and Corey Dickerson’s two-run triple.
Troy Tulowitzki and Justin Morneau had three hits each for Colorado.
“It wasn’t my day from the first inning,” Teheran said. “I didn’t have a problem with the grip and with my pitches. I think I got my good stuff. A couple bloopers that happened and they got me on a couple base hits.”
Matzek breezed through the first four innings on 39 pitches. Atlanta hit three balls hard, including a line drive by Teheran snared by Morneau to end the third.
Morneau couldn’t come down with Justin Upton’s single with one out in the fifth to give the Braves their first baserunner. The Coors Field crowd acknowledged Matzek’s early work with applause after Upton’s hit.
Chris Johnson followed with a single to right but Matzek retired the next two batters to get out of the inning.
“He has good stuff, 94-95 mph fastball,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “The whole day you’re talking to guys, ‘Hey, this guy sprays it around a little bit. Be patient.’ I’m not sure how many three-ball counts he got into, if any.”
Matzek didn’t walk a batter and threw 71 pitches through seven innings before the Braves got to him.
Johnson, Tommy La Stella and Andrelton Simmons singled to start the eight and make it 8-1.Franklin Morales came on and gave up a two-out RBI single to B.J. Upton before getting Freddie Freeman to fly out.
Matzek received another ovation as he walked to the dugout when Weiss pulled him in the eighth.
“It felt amazing. Great fans, great fan base,” he said.
The Rockies made it 4-0 in the third when Tulowitzki scored on a sacrifice fly by Stubbs.
Josh Rutledge scored from third when Tulowitzki, who singled, was caught in a rundown between first and second in the fifth. Stubbs and Dickerson led off the sixth with consecutive doubles to give Colorado a 6-0 lead.
Tulowitzki and Morneau had RBI singles in the seventh.
Teheran allowed seven runs on 10 hits and struck out five in 6 1-3 innings.
“I know it was a tough day for me. I’m just glad that I was able to compete and get through six innings,” Teheran said.
Braves Bits: Atlanta catcher Evan Gattis singled in the eighth to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. ... Gonzalez was named one of the coaches for the NL at the All-Star Game in Minnesota next month. Justin Upton returned to the lineup after being removed in the first inning Tuesday because of a left hamstring injury. ... Atlanta will send Ervin Santana (5-2, 3.69) against Colorado’s Jhoulys Chacin (0-4, 5.35) today.