Bettis threw seven impressive innings in his season debut Monday, thrilling the crowd as the Colorado Rockies beat the Braves 3-0 on a feel-good night at Coors Field.
Bettis scattered six hits, walked none and struck out two. He hadn't pitched in the majors since being diagnosed with testicular cancer in November.
"I don't think I was in tune to what was going on until the fifth," Bettis said. "So many emotions. I was trying to get them under control. It was taking much longer than what was expected."
Bettis had surgery for the condition, but tests in March showed the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. He later underwent chemotherapy.
The journey to get back to the rotation was on his mind all day, but he was able to harness his emotions and put together a strong outing.
"From what everybody has told me about this fella, seeing what he did tonight didn't surprise me," first-year Rockies manager Bud Black said. "I'm sure it was emotional for him, his family, the people who he's close to, people with cancer that follow his path."
The 33,641 fans at Coors Field were cheering for Bettis before he threw his first major league pitch of 2017. The crowd rose as he walked in from the bullpen before the start, and gave a big cheer as he went out to pitch the first inning.
"You try to get your mind clear because of the task at hand, and then to be hit with that emotion, it was unbelievable," Bettis said. "Walking in, it was deep breaths."
Asked about trying not to think too much about this start in the days leading up to it, Bettis said, "It crept in this morning, when I woke up. Just thinking about everything that happened, everything my family and I have been through ... I was holding back tears until the start."
"It went from being incredibly high to, 'Oh no, we're about to be down 1-0.' I've never had a problem with guys laying out," Bettis said. "Parra tried to make a spectacular play and ended up still making a spectacular play."
The 28-year-old Bettis settled into a pitchers' duel with Atlanta starter Julio Teheran and pitched the way he did last year when he led Colorado in starts (32), wins (14) and innings (186). Bettis left for a pinch-hitter in the seventh with the game still scoreless.
Bettis said he never had any doubt that he would return.
"The question was when was it going to be and what would it look like," Bettis said. "Was I going to be in the bullpen helping them back there, or was I going to be able to start.
"So the fact that I'm able to start again is exciting."
"You hate not to get that one for [Teheran]," Brothers said.
Teheran allowed four hits and struck out eight in seven innings.
"I've been working to try and get back on track, and today I feel like I had my best, like the old Julio Teheran that we're used to seeing," he said.
Charlie Blackmon led off the Colorado eighth with a triple. After an intentional walk, Parra singled through the drawn-in infield to put the Rockies ahead.
Rockies: OF-1B Ian Desmond (right calf strain) did some hitting and running on Colorado's recent road trip.
The Rockies got a scare Sunday when All-Star 3B Nolan Arenado, who leads the majors with 100 RBIs, left the game in Miami after being hit on the left hand with a pitch. He and the team feared he broke a bone, but X-rays showed only a bruise.
"I was a little surprised. I thought I broke it," Arenado said Monday. "It got super tight right after. Last time I broke my finger, and I've broken bones before, it gets super tight and it usually comes out broken."
Arenado didn't start, but he pinch hit in the seventh, fouling out to first.
"I'm good to go. It hurts, but I've dealt with worse pain," he said. "It's not as swollen as we thought it was going to be. It's just pain tolerance."
Before the game, the Rockies honored Don Baylor, the club's first manager, with a video tribute and a moment of silence. Baylor, who managed Colorado for its first six seasons, died last week at age 68 after a 14-year battle with multiple myeloma. The Rockies hung his jersey in their dugout.
Braves: LHP Sean Newcomb (1-7, 4.45 ERA) will make his 12th start of the season Tuesday.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Buster Olney's top 10 third basemen: Hot corner is a hot commodity
Among MLB's best third basemen: a pair of stars who got huge deals with new teams -- and two others who have been the subject of trade rumors.
White Sox pitching coach concerned about Michael Kopech
White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said he is concerned about right-hander Michael Kopech, who recently opted out of the upcoming 2020 season.
Eric Sogard's daughter gets her tooth pulled in unique way
Brewers infielder Eric Sogard's family all contribute to pull his daughter's tooth, which comes free after his son hits a baseball.
David Bell believes universal DH is advantage for Reds
Reds manager David Bell explains what the universal DH rule means for his team this season, including how it benefits his offense.
The Dodgers believe they can win it all
The Dodgers have a chip on their shoulder and a roster built to win now. Alden Gonzalez chronicles why Los Angeles believes this could be its year.
Yoenis Cespedes says he'll be ready to start season with Mets
Yoenis Cespedes says he's finally close to fully recovered from a string of injuries to his feet and legs and is sure he'll be ready to start the season with the Mets.