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Hoffman scuffles again as Isotopes fall flat

Prospect struggles with his command in fourth start

Milwaukee Brewers v Colorado Rockies Photo by Joe Mahoney/Getty Images

The Jeff Hoffman development process seemed to hit another bump in the road Friday night.

Then again, the results of the game are not really what ultimately matters to the Colorado Rockies organization.

“His issues are his issues,” Albuquerque Isotopes manager Glenallen Hill said. “He would most definitely like to have one of those outings that we’ve seen in the past where he’s got eight or nine strikeouts and it looks easy. It doesn’t look easy for him right now.”

Hoffman and the Isotopes lost 6-1 to the visiting Reno Aces, who took three of four in the series.

“So he’s working on some things, battling through some issues,” Hill said. “What you guys don’t see is he’s throwing certain pitches so that he can get a feel for those pitches. You’re trying to formulate that into a competitive game plan, without telling the world what pitches he needs to work on.

“We are now about results. The results we’re looking for are not always going to translate what a normal (fan) sees as good.”

Reno (9-7) scored all of its runs off Hoffman (0-2), with four of those being earned on eight hits and one walk. Hoffman had four strikeouts and threw 61 of 92 pitches for strikes.

“Too many balls over the middle of the plate,” Hill said. “They seemed to be not off-balance, the hitters.”

Hoffman said before the season started that fastball command would be a major focus in his early starts. It was not just that which eluded him Friday.

“I just think it’s just command in general,” Hill said.

In Hoffman’s defense, it was not a particularly well played game by the rest of the Isotopes (7-9). The Aces scored unearned runs in the third and fifth innings. They also had a leadoff triple that led to a run in the first. The only truly hard-hit ball of the night off Hoffman was a three-run homer by Hank Conger in the fourth inning that blew the game open.

As for Hoffman’s opposite number, Keyvius Sampson (1-1) dominated Albuquerque’s lineup, holding them to just one hit and one unearned run in six innings of work. They finished with five hits total

“You know, I watched the way that Sampson executed his pitches was kind of the way we wanted our guy to execute his,” Hill said. “He threw early strikes. He pushed contact and basically put pressure on our hitters and at least to me when he was pitching, he never looked stressed, it looked pretty easy for him.”

The Isotopes will look to rebound against a new opponent Saturday as the Tacoma Rainiers come to town for a 7:05 p.m. matchup. Right-hander Matt Flemer (1-1, 5.06 ERA) gets the nod against former Isotope Christian Bergman (2-0, 2.31).