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Albuquerque Isotopes' Jeff Hoffman struggles for first time in five starts

Rockies top pitching prospect fails to make it out of the fifth inning against El Paso.

If this was Jeff Hoffman’s last start for the Albuquerque Isotopes, it was certainly not a start to remember.

The right-hander was tagged for a whopping eight runs on 10 hits and three walks in 4.2 innings on Tuesday night, as the Isotopes lost 11-4 to the visiting El Paso Chihuahuas.

Hoffman (4-7) retired seven of the first eight batters he faced before the wheels started to come off in the third inning, came off completely in the fourth, and then caught fire and exploded in the fifth. It was his first bad start since he allowed seven runs without getting out of the third inning against Las Vegas back on June 9, five starts ago.

"Not a lot of fastball command," Isotopes manager Glenallen Hill said regarding Hoffman. "He threw a lot of breaking balls early but he didn’t establish a feel for his fastball. He pitched behind in the count. He left some balls up and walked too many."

Opposing pitcher Michael Kelly hit a bloop single with one out in the third. Carlos Asuaje followed with a towering home run to right-center. Hoffman gave up another bloop single before striking out Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges to get out of the inning.

Unfortunately, that would be his high-water mark.

Hoffman’s fourth inning went as follows: single up the middle, four-pitch walk, single to right, RBI single to center, fielder’s choice, bases-loaded walk, sacrifice fly. That put El Paso up 5-2.

The fifth was no better. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases, and then came another sac-fly, plus a throwing error, to bring in two more runs. An RBI single followed to make it 8-2. Hoffman struck out Kelly, but that would be his final batter, as Hill pulled him in favor of lefty reliever Ryan Carpenter.

Hoffman and the coaching staff will meet Wednesday.

"I think we wait until the next day and then we go over what happened," Hill said. "We ask him what his opinion was and see if we’re on the same page and see if we can make some adjustments."

Rumors of Hoffman being called up were not a factor in his performance, Hill said.

"I would venture to say (it had) absolutely nothing to do with it," Hill said. "This is about player development and those of us who are in player development understand that it’s a process. We don’t speed up the process, the process is just the process. When the time comes for that to become a decision, I’m sure the people will make the decision that’s best for Mr. Hoffman."

Hill said he has not been told of any sort of innings limit for Hoffman, who threw only 104 innings last season. Of course, even if Hill had been told by the Rockies, he would not share that info with the media.

For now, Hoffman’s next scheduled outing is still set to be the All-Star Futures Game in San Diego on Sunday.