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Hoffman loses fastball command vs. Pirates

Rookie right-hander allows seven runs on nine hits and four walks in loss
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- No fastball, no chance for Rockies rookie right-hander Jeff Hoffman on Friday night.

Hoffman gave up seven runs on nine hits and four walks in three innings, plus three batters in the fourth, while grinding through 82 pitches in the 13-5 loss at Coors Field that ended a Rockies win streak at four games.

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DENVER -- No fastball, no chance for Rockies rookie right-hander Jeff Hoffman on Friday night.

Hoffman gave up seven runs on nine hits and four walks in three innings, plus three batters in the fourth, while grinding through 82 pitches in the 13-5 loss at Coors Field that ended a Rockies win streak at four games.

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"The fastball command thing -- I just wasn't able to locate it when I needed it," said Hoffman (6-2, 5.10 ERA), who had won his previous two decisions. "I was confident in it, it's tough to get to it. You can't really just pitch with the curveball.

"Everything is going to go back to the fastball command."

At least Hoffman, 24, had his changeup for the first time in three weeks. But still, Friday was his second-worst performance of the season. He coughed up nine runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings against the D-backs at home on June 21.

Video: PIT@COL: Hoffman fans Mercer in the 2nd inning

Rockies manager Bud Black, who also saw Hoffman struggle with the curve but end up with a few good changeups, said it's merely another test in the life of a younger starting pitcher. Hoffman is one of four rookies in the current rotation for a Rockies team that holds the second National League Wild Card.

But other than the two rough outings, he has gone seven innings four times and fewer than six just four times in 11 starts. The challenge is to rebound.

"We'll see," Black said. "Jeff is so young in his career. But the guy's shown the ability to do that. That's an early good sign for Jeff.

"I know that he's already thinking about Wednesday in St. Louis. He's extremely, I'm sure, motivated. So we have all the confidence in the world in Jeff."

Hoffman also found consistent misfortune with borderline pitches. According to Statcast™ strike-zone imaging, eight borderline pitches (those touching any part of the strike zone border) were balls. Of those plate appearances, six ended with a hit or a walk, including Josh Bell's three-run double in the second and two walks that helped lead to the double. Of the four borderline first pitches that were balls, three of them led to hits - including Josh Harrison's leadoff double in the two-run fourth.

Hoffman said he just needs to make better adjustments.

"Coming into tonight, I had a few things in mind," Hoffman said. "I worked on them and they were good in the bullpen. But they just didn't translate. I'm just going to continue to work on things we've been working on and just do those things until we can make that translate into a game situation."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Jeff Hoffman