Rusin steps in for gutsy start in Rockies debut

Recalled from Triple-A, lefty escapes early jams to toss seven impressive innings

Rusin steps in for gutsy start in Rockies debut

CINCINNATI -- The Rockies had called up lefty pitcher Chris Rusin once before for a doubleheader, but he never took the mound. The rains that fell all day Tuesday, when he was recalled for an emergency start, seemed especially cruel.

But the skies cleared, and Rusin made a strong first impression in purple by yielding one run and four hits in seven innings of the Rockies' 2-1 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

"There was a window, and they said they knew we were going to get the game in and we were going to be on time," Rusin said. "Just had to get in, get out as quickly as possible. I was able to do that, as the other pitcher [the Reds' Michael Lorenzen, who gave up one run and two hits in seven innings] did as well. It turned out to be a quick game."

Pressed into service because a cut on Jorge De La Rosa's left middle finger hadn't healed, Rusin, 28, made pitches to heart-of-the-order hitters to escape two major jams.

In the first, Brayan Pena lined to leaping first baseman Ben Paulsen with runners at second and third. He also fanned Jay Bruce -- on an eight-pitch at-bat with five foul balls -- with runners at the corners to end the fifth.

Paulsen's leaping grab

"He has a four-pitch mix going really well, threw to both sides of the plate and really did everything I asked him to do," said catcher Nick Hundley, who homered in the fifth for the Rockies' lone run.

Hundley's monster solo homer

Rockies manager Walt Weiss said, "Rusin was outstanding -- good fastball with late movement, threw his secondary stuff for strikes. He was in control all the way."

Rusin was 3-2 with a 6.29 ERA in seven games, six starts, at Triple-A Albuquerque, but he was far more effective in his Rockies debut. Rusin had appeared in 24 games, 20 of them starts, for the Cubs in 2012-14.

Familiarity wasn't his only ally. The rain made for a traditionally humid night by the banks of the Ohio River. Rusin, who plied his trade collegiately about 90 miles away at the University of Kentucky, said the mugginess made for a more comfortable grip on his pitches.

Rusin said he was summoned to Cincinnati on Monday and was informed of the start Tuesday.

"It's a confidence booster for me, because I've been throwing well down there [in Triple-A], but not like this -- I haven't been able to go past the sixth inning," Rusin said.

Between righty David Hale's 6 2/3 solid innings in a victory over the Giants on Saturday, when he was the 26th allotted player for a doubleheader, and Rusin's performance, the Rockies can feel confident about their starting depth.

"It's been nice that we've got a couple guys to choose from," shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "If we get in trouble again, we can call some of those guys up, and hopefully they keep throwing well for us."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.