Lack of command the difference for Rusin

Lefty falls behind, allows career-high 11 hits vs. Fish five days after holding them in check

Lack of command the difference for Rusin

MIAMI -- The inability to locate pitches will hurt any pitcher, especially one facing Major League Baseball's current home run leader.

After throwing nine of his first 15 pitches for balls in Thursday night's 6-0 loss, Rockies left-hander Chris Rusin found himself behind 3-1 in the count to Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton with a pair of runners on base. Stanton connected on Rusin's 88-mph fastball for a three-run homer to left that put the visiting ballclub in an early 3-0 hole.

"Kind of up a little bit, over the plate," Rusin said of the pitch. "Supposed to be up and in. I didn't get it there and he hit it out. Left one up to [Jeff] Baker as well later in the game. Just can't do that here."

Rusin tied a career high with six runs allowed. He also gave up a career-worst 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out just one batter -- Stanton in the fourth -- and walked two. He threw 105 pitches (68 strikes).

In the first, Adeiny Hechavarria grounded out before Martin Prado's double and Christian Yelich's walk. Following Stanton's blast, Rusin walked Marcell Ozuna. Baker grounded into a fielder's choice and J.T. Realmuto reached on an infield single, but Donovan Solano grounded out to end the frame. Rusin threw 32 pitches in the inning -- just 15 for strikes.

Things didn't go much better in the second. After David Phelps grounded out, Hechavarria singled and Prado grounded out. Yelich produced an RBI triple and Stanton drove him in with an RBI dribbler that stayed fair down the third-base line.

"I just didn't hit my spots," Rusin said. "The ball was up this time. Not like last time where I kept the ball down with movement. Today, I didn't. Left my pitches up, fell behind early, and I had to force myself to throw strikes. Got hurt with a couple of them, especially falling behind early and walking some guys in the first inning to get to Stanton. That's not what you want to do. I found that out."

Last Saturday at Coors Field against these same Marlins, Rusin picked up his first win as a starter since Aug. 9, 2013, at St. Louis. He gave up two runs on seven hits over seven frames with eight strikeouts and two walks. Stanton fanned four times.

Rusin's other two big league outings this year also went well. On May 26, he permitted one run on four hits with five strikeouts and four walks in seven innings. Out of the bullpen five days later, Rusin pitched 4 2/3 scoreless frames on four hits with two strikeouts and a walk.

"It usually comes down to how you control the ball and location of pitches," manager Walt Weiss said. "He didn't have the same command he had the last few times out. He struggled. Pretty good feel for the changeup, but the command of the other pitches, that was tough for him tonight."

Rusin did settle down to retire seven of the next eight batters until Baker's solo shot in the fifth. Miami chased him in the sixth after two men reached with one out on Hechavarria's bunt hit and Yelich's single up the middle.

Facing a team in consecutive starts can be a challenge. Rusin tried to keep his composure to eat innings for the bullpen. He believed he had good movement with his pitches, but couldn't hit his spots.

"You just try to stick to your plan, and when they make adjustments, you try to make adjustments with them," Rusin said. "I wasn't able to throw the ball where I needed to throw it. I was just going off of what I had."

Christina De Nicola is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.