For six innings, German Marquez was pitching like a man aiming for another late-season promotion.
Then he came back to earth in the seventh, as if the baseball gods had to remind him that pitchers rarely escape from Albuquerque unscathed in their Triple-A debuts.
Marquez still picked up the win as the Albuquerque Isotopes hung on for an 8-7 victory and a four-game sweep of the Las Vegas 51s on Wednesday night.
Even with teammate Simon Castro on standby should he need a translator, the 21-year-old Marquez took almost all of the postgame questions himself.
"I was really excited to get in to just throw the ball and play the game," said Marquez, who had some great movement on his fastball early in the game. "It’s good for me to (have movement). I attack the hitters and that’s how I get outs."
The right-hander allowed just three hits through six scoreless innings before the wheels came off in the seventh. He gave up a leadoff home run to L.J. Mazzilli and a single to Eric Campbell. After striking out former Isotope Johnny Monell, Marquez gave up another single and then a three-run homer to Kevin Plawecki. One more single by former Isotope Roger Bernadina and Marquez’s night was over.
"He fell behind in the count, left some balls in the middle of the plate and he faced guys that hit fastballs," Hill said. "He is a dynamic young man, so he got into a little bit of trouble, left some balls up. It’s a good lesson for him."
The final line for the midseason No. 7 PuRP was 6.1 innings, eight hits, four earned runs, zero walks and seven strikeouts. He threw 61 of 86 pitches for strikes.
"It’s the same everywhere I go, just execute pitches no matter what," Marquez said.
Marquez relied primarily on his fastball. He peaked at 97 mph on the stadium gun, which is usually about 3 mph slow, though he mainly lived around 91-92 on the gun (94-95 in reality).
"He’s the real deal, there is no doubt about it," Hill said.
Marquez got plenty of run support early. Raimel Tapia led off the first with a triple and scored on Brandon Barnes’ double. A five-run third inning was capped by Alex Castellanos’ two-run homer to left. Dustin Garneau would add an RBI double in the fourth and Stephen Cardullo smacked a solo home run in the sixth.
That 8-0 lead should have been enough, but this was a Pacific Coast League game. After Marquez gave up four in the seventh, Brian Schlitter served up a two-run homer to Gavin Cecchini in the eighth.
Schlitter then gave up a double to Campbell and was pulled in favor of Sam Moll. The lefty promptly walked two in a row, got a pop-up, then hit Bernadina with a pitch to force in a run. Niuman Romero grounded into a fielder’s choice to end it, but the Isotopes’ lead was down to one run.
They turned to Simon Castro, who has been almost unhittable since the All-Star break. Castro has a 0.90 ERA in 10 innings, striking out 17 and walking just one. This time around Castro retired the side on a strikeout, pop-up and a groundout to earn his fifth save. Overall, Castro now has 49 strikeouts in 43 innings.
"He was great," Marquez said with a laugh.
The Isotopes will spend their final off-day of the season busing up to Colorado Springs to start a four-game series against the Rockies’ former affiliate on Friday.