Bettis finds solid footing after early stumble
Right-hander gives up five runs in first two innings before settling down
HOUSTON -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis' fate Monday night was sealed in the first two innings. A five-run deficit, built largely on Colby Rasmus' three-run, first-inning homer and George Springer's second-inning solo shot, sent the Rockies on their way to a 6-3 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
"It's not something that we're going to get back on the white board and redraw everything," Bettis said.
After being charged with five runs and seven hits in five innings while losing his second straight start, Bettis (2-2) maintained confidence that something isn't seriously wrong. It's as positive an outcome as Bettis and the Rockies, who have lost five of their last six, can take.
Before the season, the Rockies' pitching coaches figuratively took Bettis apart, working with his motion to ensure his momentum was headed toward home plate instead of spinning off to first base, before putting him back together. It was the best path toward erasing a 2014 that saw him go 0-2 with a 9.12 ERA in 21 relief appearances before the club ended a year-long experiment with him in the bullpen.
The Rockies kept him away from competition early in Spring Training and started him at Triple-A Albuquerque until unveiling the new Bettis in early May. Through his first five starts, he was 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA.
But Bettis lost command of his fastball in a loss to the Cardinals in his last start. On Monday, he felt he didn't have his secondary pitches, and the aggressive Astros could eliminate them and hunt fastballs.
It might be human nature to question the changes to this point, but Bettis said he's not going to overreact to certain pitches.
"Just two," Bettis said. "The one pitch to Colby, that's a pitch where if I locate it, maybe it doesn't happen. Maybe it does. But because it wasn't, it could've been a different outcome if it was.
"The pitch to Springer, a hanging curveball, if that pitch was located well -- down and away in the dirt -- he maybe takes it for a ball. But because of where it was, he hit it well."
After the second inning, Bettis yielded just one hit, and he finished with five strikeouts against two walks. But the homers, plus one Springer added in the seventh off reliever LaTroy Hawkins, pushed the Astros' Majors-leading home run total to 88.
"They are an aggressive club," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "We talked about that coming into the series and they didn't miss much early."
Bettis adjusted, but needed to do it quicker.
"Once he figured it out and made some adjustments on the fly that were terrific, he ran through the lineup a couple of times," Rockies catcher Nick Hundley said. "Obviously, it wasn't a performance that he's going to look back on and say, 'I really had everything going.' But he did a real good job of keeping us in a game that could've gotten away from him."
While Bettis is keeping it in perspective, he's not giving himself a pass.
"I didn't do my job the first two innings," he said.