DENVER -- Jacob Nix, meet Coors Field.If, indeed, the 22-year-old right-hander is going to be an integral long-term piece in this Padres rotation, he's going to pitch here often. The tenacity he showed Wednesday night will be a prerequisite to do so.Nix, the No. 14 prospect in a loaded Padres
DENVER -- Jacob Nix, meet Coors Field.
If, indeed, the 22-year-old right-hander is going to be an integral long-term piece in this Padres rotation, he's going to pitch here often. The tenacity he showed Wednesday night will be a prerequisite to do so.
Nix, the No. 14 prospect in a loaded Padres farm system, was hit hard early in the Padres' 6-2 loss to the Rockies. But he bounced back for a strong finish and five innings of three-run ball. Neither the San Diego offense nor the bullpen did much to help him.
Colorado jumped in front in the second inning on Tony Wolters' RBI triple and made it 3-1 on a wild pitch. Nix struggled to command his offspeed pitches and found himself on the ropes in a hitters' paradise.
"In [Class A Advanced] last year, everyone says, 'Oh, in Lancaster the ball flies,'" Nix said of his Coors Field debut. "Then, Double-A, you're in Midland, and the ball flies. I know here it's different because you're at elevation. But you just keep the ball on the ground, not hang a breaking ball and let them crush it. I did all right with it."
He settled in nicely. Nix retired 10 of the next 11 hitters he faced and exited after 96 pitches. He struck out two and allowed five hits in five innings.
Nix wasn't as sharp as his first outing, when he tossed six scoreless. Nor was he as shaky as his second, when he exited without completing the first inning against the D-backs last week.
"I got out of the first inning -- so obviously [I was] a lot better than the last game," Nix quipped.
But all three starts have seen a recurring theme: Nix has not been sharp in the game's early stages. Even in his excellent debut against the Phillies, he escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first. He hasn't been so lucky since.
"He was just kind of scattershot the first two innings," said Padres manager Andy Green. "After that, we see the guy he really is. That's our challenge going into our next outing: How to get that from the first pitch of the ballgame."
The Rockies tacked on two in the sixth off Phil Maton and another in the eighth against Miguel Diaz.
Padres shortstop Freddy Galvis launched his 11th homer of the season in the seventh, a moonshot into the second deck in right field. But a short-handed San Diego offense didn't threaten much against Rockies starter Jon Gray.
After the game, Green announced that infielder Christian Villanueva will be placed on the disabled list before Thursday's series finale, necessitating a callup. X-rays revealed a fractured right middle finger for Villanueva, and he'll be out at least three to four weeks.
Villanueva wasn't the only banged up Padres hitter on Wednesday night. Before the game, William Myers was struck in the face by a ground ball during batting practice. He was a late scratch from the starting lineup with a lacerated nose. Myers received stitches and had a CT scan, which came back negative, as did tests for a possible concussion.
On top of that, Hunter Renfroe is still nursing soreness in his right forearm after he was struck by a 97 mph fastball on Sunday. Renfroe pinch-hit in the seventh and struck out looking (on a pitch that appeared to be several inches off the outside corner).
Meanwhile, Galvis felt a tingling sensation in his forearm while swinging in the ninth inning. But the pain has subsided completely, and the Padres expect Galvis to start Thursday.
Padres catcher Austin Hedges threw out baserunners at a 37 percent clip last year. This year, that number sits at just 23 percent after the Rockies swiped three bags on Wednesday. That number is probably more a testament to a young Padres pitching staff, which struggles to keep base stealers in check. Hedges' average pop time is 1.91 seconds this season -- only a slight uptick from his 1.89 mark last year -- and still the second best mark in the Majors behind Miami's J.T. Realmuto.
Joey Lucchesi got off to an excellent start to his Padres career, but he's struggled over the past two months, since returning from a right-hip strain in June. He's completed just six innings once in that span, and his ERA has jumped to 3.79. He looks to get back on track in Thursday's series finale against the Rockies at 12:10 p.m. PT. The Rockies counter with left-hander Kyle Freeland.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.