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Outlook: Chatwood's low ERA may regress in 2014

Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood would rather have not dealt with a slight right hamstring strain that cost him the first two turns in the starting rotation. But he couldn't have picked a better place to make his 2014 debut.

Chatwood is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in three starts at AT&T Park against the Giants. He will start Sunday afternoon against Giants righty Tim Hudson in the rubber game of the series.

The Giants just happen to be a good opponent for Chatwood -- 3-2, 1.88 ERA in five starts. Actually, he pitched well against the entire National League West last season, going 4-2 with a 2.25 ERA in eight starts. It was a big part of a year in which he went 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 20 starts and established himself as a key figure in the Rockies' rotation.

"It's the first start of the year, but from a baseball sense it's just controlling my emotions and adrenaline, and making pitches," Chatwood said.

Chatwood worked on improving his changeup during Spring Training and mixed that with his two- and four-seam fastballs during his lone injury rehab start, when he pitched for Triple-A Colorado Springs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings.

In Hudson, the Rockies are facing an opponent who has had success against them. Hudson is 5-2 with a 4.35 ERA in 11 starts vs. Colorado. Having signed a two-year contract with the Giants, he'll become even more familiar with the Rockies.

Rockies: Blackmon has become essential
The season started with the Rockies unsure of how they would divvy up the playing time in center field. Left-handed-hitting Charlie Blackmon has shown he deserves the biggest piece of the pie.

Blackmon went 2-for-3 with a double on Saturday, and he is 19-for-38 with four doubles, a triple, a home run and nine RBIs this season. He has a .737 slugging percentage and a .512 on-base percentage.

Because he hits left-handed, the matchups tend to be in his favor when it comes to deciding whether to use him as opposed to right-handed-hitters Drew Stubbs or Brandon Barnes in center. And Sunday's matchup certainly works for him: Blackmon is 4-for-5 with a double against Hudson.

Giants: Getting a read on the division
Looking at San Francisco's schedule start to start the year, the team should have a good read on the NL West by the time May comes around. The Giants' initial 22 games of the season and 25 of their first 28 contests will take place against division foes.

Even though they finished with a 76-86 record and a third-place finish in the NL West last year, the Giants featured winning records against the Rockies (10-9), D-backs (12-7), Dodgers (11-8) and Padres (11-8). The Giants will be looking to continue that trend this year, and they have been successful so far by winning series against Arizona and Los Angeles to start the season.

But the division looks to have a different makeup in 2014, and a lot of it has to do with the Rockies, who enter Sunday's contest as the NL leader in runs scored (66) and batting average (.306). After getting his first look at the Rockies on Friday night, Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner heaped praise on Colorado's talented lineup.

"They're awfully good," Bumgarner said. "You can't afford to go out there and not be on top of your game."

Worth noting
• The Giants' pitching staff has been doing a great job of limiting free passes this season. A year after giving up 3.21 per game, the Giants have allowed an average of just 1.83 in their first 12 contests of the year (22 total), by far the best in the NL.

• Saturday's 1-0 victory was the 18th 1-0 win in the history of the Rockies, who began play in 1993. It was their third such victory over the Giants. The others were June 11, 2008, at Coors Field, and Sept. 12, 1998, at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.

• With another full house for Saturday's matinee against the Rockies, the Giants now have a 251-game regular-season sellout streak at AT&T Park, the longest active streak for any team in MLB. The streak dates back to October 1, 2010, when the Giants were getting ramped up for their first World Series run of the recent years.

• Two season-opening Rockies hit streaks have fallen. Michael Cuddyer, who sat for the first time this season on Saturday, saw his run end at 10 games with an 0-for-3 on Friday night. Carlos Gonzalez went 0-for-4 Saturday to see his streak end at 10 games.

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