Eddie Butler was brilliant for five innings on Thursday afternoon for the Albuquerque Isotopes.
Then came a truly spectacular, horrific implosion, the kind that can either serve as a great lesson or could end up being the beginning of the end.
That will be up to Butler, but if he was wondering how others viewed the start, his manager did not mince any words.
“Eddie caused the wheels to come off,” Glenallen Hill said after the Sounds beat the Isotopes 8-4 to split the series. “And he’s going to have to revisit that and look at what he could have done better. As soon as he gave up the hit he emotionally lost his edge. And that should not happen.”
Butler (4-1) had a no-hitter through 5.1 innings, allowing just a walk to Jaycob Brugman in the fourth. Otherwise it was just a mix of groundouts, pop-ups, and soft flyball outs. Butler even got Tyler Ladendorf to ground out to second to start the sixth.
Then came the boom.
Nashville backup catcher Bryan Anderson, the No. 9 hitter, ripped a double to right field to bring the Sounds to life. From there it all went wrong for Butler.
He walked Billy Burns, gave up an RBI single to Brugman and another RBI single to Chad Pinder that gave Nashville a 2-1 lead. Butler got Max Muncy to line out to center fielder David Dahl, but that would be his final highlight. The Sounds chased him via Joey Wendle’s two-run triple and Rangel Ravelo’s RBI single.
“I saw him give up a hit, I saw him become very distraught and he lost his focus,” Hill said. “And in that situation, he’s not thinking about what hte other team is thinking about. Whenever pitchers pitch like he’s pitching and he gives up a hit, the offense seems to feed off of that. You have to move past that very quickly. He didn’t manage that situation very well.”
Brian Schlitter came in and gave up a two-run homer to Matt Olson to finish Butler’s line for the night. It read six runs, all earned, on five hits and two walks with just one strikeout in 5.1 innings. He threw 45 of 76 pitches for strikes.
At least Butler could look back on those first five innings and try to build off that before his next start, Hill said.
“His pitch count was extremely low and he was getting some early, weak contact,” Hill said. “He was in control back then.”
Butler had 53 pitches through five innings.
“So that tells you what was good about it; it was off the charts,” Hill said. “That’s what makes it so disheartening that he allowed himself to become focused on the results instead of focusing on the process. I’m hoping that it’s a very, very valuable, hard lesson.”
The Isotopes’ starting pitching has gone into a funk despite the fact they have won nine of their last 11 games. During that stretch, Albuquerque has not received a single quality start.
“We’ve talked about the ebbs and flows. Our pitching was so good for most of the year,” Hill said. “There was a time where we were averaging, what, four hits a game? You would like for it all to come together (but) we were 6-2 on this homestand. I liked our shot with the way Eddie was pitching going into that sixth inning.”
The Isotopes will hit the road for four games at Fresno starting Friday.
Around the Lab
- Dahl went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, though he struck out three times and dropped his average below .500 (.491 to be exact) for the first time since he joined the Isotopes back on July 4.
- Dustin Garneau and Jordan Patterson hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning to briefly pull the Isotopes within 7-3.