Chad Bettis was having a perfectly good rehabilitation start for the Albuquerque Isotopes on Friday night.
Then came the sixth inning.
Bettis hit the Omaha Storm Chasers’ Jorge Soler with a pitch, walked Ryan O’Hearn and then gave up an RBI double to Cam Gallagher.
Two pitches into facing Frank Schwindel, Isotopes manager Glenallen Hill, pitching coach Mark Brewer and trainer Heath Townsend suddenly rushed out of the dugout to the mound. After a brief conversation, the Colorado Rockies’ right-hander departed with Townsend.
Hill, though, said Bettis’ departure was not due to an injury.
“Oh, he’s fine,” Hill said, noting that Bettis was at 71 pitches, close to his limit of 80. “That was it.”
Bettis had already left the clubhouse by the time the game ended.
The final line on Bettis was better than his previous start for Albuquerque. This time around he allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits and two walks in 51⁄3 innings. He had no strikeouts, mainly relying on groundball outs up until his struggles in the sixth.
“You know, I thought he pitched good,” Hill said. “I think he did a good job. He definitely shows you why he is who he is. He can absolutely command the ball.”
All those groundball outs were proof, Hill said.
“He just looked very confident in being able to execute his intentions,” he said.
Hill said he does not know the plan for Bettis going forward, whether he will get another rehab start or move up to Colorado. At the very least, Bettis left quite the positive impression with Hill.
“Let me tell you, man, he’s a competitor, he is a bulldog,” Hill said. “Right now he is competing so I don’t think there are going to be very many days he’s going to feel bad about how he’s doing. That doesn’t compute with him. He’s an absolute bulldog.”
Omaha ended up winning 5-4 over Albuquerque to split the four-game series. The Isotopes (54-52) remained a game behind Salt Lake; they split a doubleheader at Memphis.
Albuquerque had a chance in the ninth. Derrik Gibson led off with a triple and scored on a groundout. Ryan McMahon then smacked a double to right field. Noel Cuevas, who homered back in the fourth inning, struck out swinging and Jordan Patterson did the same.
The Isotopes will begin a four-game series with the Iowa Cubs on Saturday night at 7:05. Lefty Sam Howard (3-2, 5.13 ERA) will get the nod against Iowa right-hander Aaron Brooks (5-8, 6.11).