It was mostly a night to forget for the Albuquerque Isotopes on Thursday.
Jeff Hoffman, making his first start since being sent down by the Colorado Rockies, was mauled for six runs in two-thirds of an inning.
It was just the start of a 12-0 bludgeoning by the Salt Lake Bees (66-65), who moved 3 1/2 games ahead of slumping Albuquerque (62-68), which has lost seven of nine.
A positive note was rehabbing Rockies utility player Ian Desmond. He started at first base and went 1-for-2 with a double and a walk before being lifted in the seventh inning.
“In the at-bats that he had and the way he worked at first base, (he looked) really good,” Hill said.
Desmond has been on the disabled list since July 26 with a strained right calf.
“I love playing this game and it felt good to be back out there,” Desmond said. “The calf felt good. The double was a pretty clear double, no real chance for a triple. It felt good covering the bag. I was a little hesitant early but as the game went on I got a better feel of it.”
Desmond is also expected to see time at shortstop and possibly the outfield while he is in Albuquerque for the next three games.
“That’s what I’ve been doing, I’m prepared for it,” Desmond said. “I’ve worked hard up there rehabbing. I feel like I’m prepared for it, now it’s just a matter of going out and testing it.”
It’s now just a matter of getting his timing back at the plate and a little more, Desmond said.
“Yeah, timing and I think just trusting the calf,” he said. “I want to make sure that when I do go back up there I’m ready to play at a high level.”
Other than Desmond’s night there was little to write home about.
Hoffman’s first inning started well enough as he retired Eric Young Jr on a weak pop-up and then struck out Michael Hermosillo. Then it all came undone.
“He got two quick outs I think on seven pitches or less and he just seemed to let down his guard,” Hill said. “At that point, it looked like he was feeling for all of his pitches, not just his breaking ball. He didn’t throw a lot of quality pitches after that.”
Shane Robinson and Ramon Flores hit back-to-back singles. Rey Navarro then lined a two-run double to right field. Hoffman (3-3) followed that by walking David Fletcher and Nolan Fontana to load the bases.
Even with lefty reliever Jerry Vasto ready to go, the Isotopes elected to let Hoffman pitch to the right-handed Tony Sanchez. The former Pittsburgh Pirates catcher lofted a grand slam into the Albuquerque bullpen.
Hill did not say what the plan is for Hoffman going forward.
“He’s part of our roster and he pitched one inning today,” Hill said, “which wasn’t a very productive inning.”
Zach Jemiola, the original scheduled starter, tossed three scoreless frames before giving up three runs in the fifth, though two unearned on a fielding error by third baseman Cristhian Adames.
While the pitchers were struggling, the lineup was listless. The Isotopes only mustered six hits, including Desmond’s leadoff double in the fourth, while striking out seven times.
“We hit too many balls in the air,” Hill said. “When you hit balls in the air and they don’t leave the ballpark, not a lot of good things are going to happen. We need to level out some swings, square some balls and it will turn around quickly.”
The Isotopes and Bees will meet again Friday at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Yency Almonte (1-1, 7.43 ERA) gets the nod against Salt Lake right-hander Daniel Wright (6-9, 7.44).