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Rox rookie pitchers wobble vs. D-backs

MLB.com

DENVER -- The Rockies' young starting rotation, which had been one of the team's biggest bright spots nearly halfway through the season, hit a bump in the road against the D-backs.

Following rookie Jeff Hoffman's poor outing Wednesday, when he gave up nine runs to the D-backs, fellow first-year pitcher Antonio Senzatela followed with a similar start. Senzatela was also charged with nine runs in Thursday's 10-3 loss. Both totals were career highs for the starters.

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DENVER -- The Rockies' young starting rotation, which had been one of the team's biggest bright spots nearly halfway through the season, hit a bump in the road against the D-backs.

Following rookie Jeff Hoffman's poor outing Wednesday, when he gave up nine runs to the D-backs, fellow first-year pitcher Antonio Senzatela followed with a similar start. Senzatela was also charged with nine runs in Thursday's 10-3 loss. Both totals were career highs for the starters.

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"Guaranteed that we're aware what's going on with our players," manager Bud Black said. "Our coaches, our players, we're talking. I think with these last two games, we got beat, they swung the bats. I mean they swung 'em, and we didn't make enough pitches."

Pitching has always been an issue for the Rockies, who play half their games at mile-high altitude. Though he had done well at home in his first two months, Senzatela's effectiveness at Coors Field has slid in June.

Senzatela excelled in his first six home starts this season, pitching to an ERA of 3.00. But since tossing eight scoreless innings against the Cardinals on May 26, Senzatela has an 8.83 ERA in three starts at Coors Field.

Black said after Wednesday's 16-5 loss that he hoped Hoffman would treat his performance as a learning experience. But he said Senzatela's loss was more being the victim to two three-run home runs.

"It's really tough to overcome that," Black said. "The pitch to [D-backs second baseman Chris] Owings was intended to be a little bit inside and a little bit up. It didn't get there, it stayed in the middle, a little bit down. The pitch to [D-backs first baseman Paul] Goldschmidt caught a lot of the plate, and he's swinging well."

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Nevertheless, Senzatela's fastball command was subpar Thursday, he and Black said. Senzatela admitted that the league may be adjusting to his early success.

"I [normally] control really good with my fastball, but maybe they know me," Senzatela said. "But I just can try to compete and put the ball down for ground balls, not fly balls."

Senzatela added that he felt physically fine, but the D-backs were just able to capitalize on his mistakes.

For Black, performances in two games out of 75 played doesn't mean a whole lot given the day-to-day randomness of the sport. Though Senzatela's fastball command was off, he will still have a chance to rebound, Black said.

"Time will tell," Black said. "There's no doubt that this is always a game of adjustments moving forward, so in regards to Jeff and Antonio, time will tell. But we have a lot of confidence in these guys."

Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.

Colorado Rockies, Jeff Hoffman, Antonio Senzatela