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Outlook: Francis needs to lower ERA to go with K rate

Friday at Coors Field doesn't only mark the beginning of a new season in Denver.

It's also the start of a year-long celebration of Rockies baseball history.

The Rockies welcome the Padres to Coors Field at 2:10 p.m. MT for their home opener as the club celebrates two decades of baseball in Denver. The season-long 20th anniversary party begins immediately, as several members of Colorado's original 1993 roster are scheduled to attend and be honored on the field prior to the game.

Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis said he'll soak in the atmosphere -- although that's his usual practice.

"I do that before a lot of games, not just home openers," Francis said. "It's something that's pretty cool. I know the atmosphere will be great. But I do want to make sure I do the things I've been doing all spring and have a good outing for our team."

Friday's home opener is Francis' first such start, but the lefty isn't known for starting the season with a strong outing. The 32-year-old is 0-4 in his first start of the season during his eight-year career, sporting a 7.11 ERA in those outings.

Francis is hoping a successful spring, in which his location and speed were spot on, will lead to a different result Friday.

"I have a good plan as to what I want to do on the mound. I have for a while. It just comes down to me executing that plan," Francis said. "A few times this spring, I had some games when I did that really well. When I didn't, I got away with it and had good results. My focus is to execute pitches and continue the success that I've had."

Many pitchers struggle in the high altitude at Coors Field, but Padres right-hander Jason Marquis, who opposes Francis, knows what to expect. Marquis pitched for the Rockies in 2009 and has a career 3.78 ERA in 140 1/3 innings in Denver.

Marquis was initially pegged as the No. 3 starter, but he was pushed back because of his success at Coors Field.

"That was part of that for sure," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He's pitched there, he was an All-Star there. The Opening Day environment won't bother him. He's a sinkerball pitcher and he keeps the ball down."

Padres: Alonso's arm OK
First baseman Yonder Alonso had a scare during Wednesday's loss to the Mets when he appeared to hurt his left arm making a tag. But after a series of tests with trainer Paul Navarro, Alonso returned to the game.

The 25-year-old was back in the lineup in Thursday's 2-1 win over the Mets and went 2-for-4 while hitting cleanup.

"I was a little scared for a second," Alonso said of the incident. "But when Paulie went out and started playing with [my arm], I knew it would be fine."

Rockies: Dynamic duo
There's no question the Rockies need Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki to live up to their superstar status if Colorado hopes to compete this season. Three games in, the duo is doing just that. They've combined to hit .370 with four home runs, seven RBIs and seven runs scored.

"Seeing 'CarGo' and 'Tulo' in the 3-4 holes is nice," manager Walt Weiss said. "We've got to have those guys if we're going to make a push at this thing."

• Fans are encouraged to be inside Coors Field by 1:30 p.m. to take in the festivities. The Rockies also are urging fans to use public transit to avoid downtown traffic.

Worth noting
• Colorado's last home-opening win came in 2009, against the Padres.

• Rockies first baseman Todd Helton is a .313 career hitter (10-for-32) against Marquis.

• Francis is 6-13 with a 5.70 ERA in 25 career starts against the Padres.

• Padres rookie third baseman Jedd Gyorko smacked a grounder down the left-field line in the top of the fourth inning against the Mets on Thursday, notching his first Major League RBI as Mark Kotsay crossed home plate. Gyorko is ranked No. 50 on MLB.com's list of top prospects of 2013.

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