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Rockies prospect Jeff Hoffman up and down in Triple-A Albuquerque’s season opener

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Hoffman may have pitched better than his line suggests, and rehabbing Rockie Chris Rusin

The final pitching line did not tell the whole story for Jeff Hoffman on Thursday night.

Hoffman allowed four runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five in five innings, throwing 82 pitches, 56 for strikes.

The Albuquerque Isotopes rallied to beat the visiting Salt Lake Bees 7-4 in the season opener for both teams, though Hoffman did not factor in the decision. Still, he was not a man displeased afterward.

“I think if you look at my line and stuff like that, my line doesn’t really show how well I threw the ball,” Hoffman said. “I was ahead (in the count) the majority of the time. I was getting strike one. When I wasn’t getting strike one, I think was like seven for nine getting 1-2 instead of 2-1.

“From a strike-throwing standpoint, I was right where I want to be. Obviously you don’t want to see the four runs up there. The guys on the offensive side did a great job of keeping us in the game and then coming through late and giving us the lead in the end.”

Hoffman’s manager was also pleased with what he saw.

“I thought Hoffman pitched in the (strike) zone,” Glenallen Hill said. “A couple balls made it through, but I think overall he kept his mix in the strike zone.”

Hoffman said on media day that fastball command would be a major focus early on this season. So far, so good on that front.

“I thought it was pretty good,” he said. “From where I was (at the start of) spring training, I’ve gotten consistently better game by game. Tonight I think I was 30 for 47 in strikes with fastballs. That’s pretty good.

“I was also able to get the slider in and the curveball in early in the count. I think that was good, too.”

As for the outcome of the game, Albuquerque trailed 4-3 in the seventh when Raimel Tapia drew a leadoff walk and Pat Valaika followed with a double to right-center. Rosell Herrera’s grounder to second drove in Tapia to tie the game and two batters later, Valaika scored on a passed ball.

A two-out, two-run double by Tapia in the eighth provided some final insurance. He added some more with another outstanding catch on the hill in center field, snagging a flyball by Kaleb Cowart while falling down backwards.

That could have easily been an extra-base hit and an RBI with former Rockies speedster Eric Young Jr. on base.

“That one tonight, that could have been a huge momentum swing,” Hoffman said. “That has to be up there in (his) top three (catches). He does a great job around that hill up there.”

A promising outing was also recorded by rehabbing Rockies lefty Chris Rusin, who came on in relief of Hoffman and ended up tossing 2.2 scoreless innings. Rusin allowed two singles, struck out three and did not walk a batter before being pulled at 42 pitches.

“He looked like he always looks,” Hill said. “Very cool, calm and he has the ability to make pitcher’s pitches when he needs to. It’s good to see him look like himself.”

Mike Tauchman smoked an RBI triple in the first inning to extend his franchise-record hitting streak to 26 games. He was also hit by a pitch and walked twice as he reached base in every plate appearance.

“You know, I kind of wasn’t sure how it worked, if it would carry over or not,” Tauchman said of the streak. “That was kind of cool. I was happy that I was able to get a hit there.”

Jordan Patterson added a monstrous two-run homer to the trees in center field in the first inning.

“I believe it’s going to be a pretty good season,” Hill said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”

The series continues tonight at 7:05 p.m. MT as right-hander Matt Flemer gets the nod for the Isotopes against Bees lefty Manny Banuelos.