Rusin shows improvement, beats Brewers
DENVER -- After his results went from bad to worse in his previous two starts, Chris Rusin knew he had to show improvement Sunday when he made his fifth start of the season for the Rockies.
"Obviously two bad ones, you don't want to have a third one," Rusin said. "It was good to go out and have a good outing. It's a confidence booster to see that I can make that adjustment and get my pitches back in the bottom of the zone."
At Miami on June 11, Rusin allowed 11 hits and six runs in 5 1/3 innings. On Tuesday at Houston, he gave up nine hits and seven runs in four innings. Against both the Marlins and Astros, Rusin yielded two homers.
Rusin worked six innings in the Rockies' 10-4 win over the Brewers, getting 10 outs on ground balls before leaving for a pinch-hitter when his spot came up in the bottom of the sixth. He threw 61 of 84 pitches for strikes, allowing seven hits and three runs with no walks and two strikeouts and successfully taking what he worked on in a bullpen session after his outing at Houston -- staying on top of the ball -- into Sunday's game.
"When I'm more on the side of the ball, I don't get my sink," Rusin said. "I don't get ground balls. I get line drives, bloopers, home runs and that's where I was in Houston. We really stuck to it, worked hard in between starts and were able to keep the ball down with sink.
"And we were able to keep the ball in the ballpark. And that's what you got to do here to win games. I was able to get early contact and ground balls."
The Rockies claimed Rusin off waivers from the Cubs on Sept. 27. He began the season at Triple-A Albuquerque before being recalled May 26. In his first three games, which included a relief outing of 4 2/3 innings after Jordan Lyles left in the second with a toe injury, Rusin went 2-0 with a 1.45 ERA. That latter figure had climbed to 5.14 after losing his past two starts.
Rusin said he wasn't thinking about the need to pitch well to keep his spot in the rotation, but he knew a turnaround was necessary. He retired the first five batters he faced before Adam Lind doubled and Hernan Perez singled, but got trapped in an inning-ending rundown.
Working with a 3-1 lead in the fourth, Rusin gave up a leadoff triple to Ryan Braun, the ball hitting the right-field wall above Carlos Gonzalez's glove and bounding back almost to the infield. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu leaped high to spear Jonathan Lucroy's liner and ranged far to his left to make a sliding stop of Aramis Ramirez's grounder as Braun scored on the play.
With the Rockies ahead 6-2, Rusin gave up a run in the sixth. Gerardo Parra reached on an infield single and took second on shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's throwing error. And Lucroy hit a ground-rule double with two outs. Rusin then got Ramirez to pop out, ending his outing.
"He gave us a good start, commanded the ball well and that's the key for him," manager Walt Weiss said. "He was able to speed hitters up and slow them down and looked like he was in control for the most part."