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Prospect Lauer knocked around in MLB debut

Left-hander can't hold Rockies at Coors Field as Padres' bats go quiet
MLB.com @AJCassavell

DENVER -- The Padres placed a daunting task before Eric Lauer on Tuesday night, asking their 22-year-old pitching prospect to conquer the Rockies and Coors Field in his Major League debut. Mother Nature made that task next to impossible.

Snow had given way to freezing rain by the time Lauer took the mound after a 46-minute delay. The Padres' No. 12 prospect was summarily knocked around over three-plus innings in an 8-0 loss. He allowed seven runs (six earned) on six hits and four walks.

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DENVER -- The Padres placed a daunting task before Eric Lauer on Tuesday night, asking their 22-year-old pitching prospect to conquer the Rockies and Coors Field in his Major League debut. Mother Nature made that task next to impossible.

Snow had given way to freezing rain by the time Lauer took the mound after a 46-minute delay. The Padres' No. 12 prospect was summarily knocked around over three-plus innings in an 8-0 loss. He allowed seven runs (six earned) on six hits and four walks.

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The list of starters to debut at Coors Field as visitors isn't a long one -- and perhaps for good reason. Lauer was just the seventh, and they've combined to post an 8.69 ERA with none lasting more than five innings.

"You can spin it whichever way you want, but at the end of the day those aren't the results I want, and that's not going to keep me here," Lauer said. "I've just got to get better."

Lauer made it to the fourth, though his fate was decided by the second when the Rockies poured on five runs with two outs. DJ LeMahieu made it 3-0 with an RBI single, and Charlie Blackmon followed with a single of his own. Nolan Arenado worked a two-out walk to load the bases, before Trevor Story demolished a 1-1 fastball for a grand slam to make it 7-0.

Following a 1-2-3 third inning, Lauer was removed after he issued a leadoff walk in the fourth. Padres manager Andy Green had a message for him when he took the ball.

"There's going to be a lot of really good days ahead," Green said. "You're going to remember this one, because you're going to come back from this one and have a lot of really good days."

Lauer took those words to heart.

"I appreciate that, and I don't think today really represents what I want to do with my career and how I'm going to finish and continue to work," Lauer said. "I don't think today was an accurate representation of who I am as a pitcher."

He added: "I've just got to get back to basics. Today was one of those days where I just couldn't settle myself down. Usually I can do that pretty easily, but tonight it wasn't working for me."

Of course, Lauer's offense did him no favors by following Monday's 13-run outburst with a dud. San Diego mustered just four hits and couldn't solve Rockies starter Kyle Freeland.

Lauer's debut won't dampen the Padres' plans for him. He's one of the club's top pitching prospects and just the second pitcher to reach the Major Leagues out of the 2016 Draft class.

Joey Lucchesi, another Padres lefty and one of Lauer's closest friends, was the first. He also struggled in his debut, though the raw numbers weren't quite so ugly. Since then, Lucchesi has settled in as arguably the Padres' best starter this year.

Like Lucchesi, Lauer will be given every chance to earn his place in San Diego's rotation of the future. If he does, Monday's start will soon be regarded as a footnote.

"He's here to pitch," Green said. "He's going to get opportunity. We like a lot of things about him. That doesn't change on one cold night at Coors Field."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Assume the double play: Lauer came oh-so close to a scoreless first inning after loading the bases with one out. Chris Iannetta sent a chopper to shortstop, where Freddy Galvis started what could've been an inning-ending double play. But Jose Pirela -- making his second appearance at second base this season -- bounced his throw, and Chase Headley couldn't pick it. Two runs scored.

Video: SD@COL: Iannetta reaches on error, two score

Down looking: Lauer bounced back immediately after Pirela's costly error. He froze David Dahl with a pristine 93 mph fastball on the outside corner for the final out of the first. It was Lauer's first career strikeout, and he'd set down two more. In the third, Lauer would tack on another first when he blooped a single into right for his first hit at any level since high school.

Video: SD@COL: Lauer records first MLB hit in debut

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
It took a few weeks, but Kazuhisa Makita is finding his groove in the big leagues. The 33-year-old rookie from Japan has notched five straight scoreless innings, including the sixth and the seventh innings of Tuesday's loss.

Makita is perhaps best known for his quirky submarine delivery and his mind-bendingly slow eephus-type curveball. He opened his seventh-inning showdown against Story with a 58-mph curve right down the middle. Story was frozen. He would later strike out on an 80-mph fastball that must've looked like 100 in comparison.

Tweet from @AJCassavell: 58 mph. Down the middle. Frozen. pic.twitter.com/3Lr7JHmi5Y

HE SAID IT
"One bad pitch to Story. If we get Story, I think we're rolling. It's not like he made 70 bad pitches, he made one bad one, and a lot of good ones. He should focus on the good ones. We've got a lot of really high hopes for him." -- Padres catcher Austin Hedges, on Lauer

UP NEXT
Tyson Ross is looking for an encore performance to his near no-hitter in Arizona on Wednesday. He's been excellent in his return to the Padres but clearly isn't content with success through four starts. The Rockies counter with Jon Gray, who blanked the Padres for seven innings earlier this month. First pitch is slated for 12:10 p.m. PT.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres