SAN DIEGO -- Rockies right-hander Eddie Butler's performance against the Padres on Tuesday night quickly went from a showcase of his immense talent to a learning experience, not to mention a 6-3 Rockies loss.
Butler retired 11 straight to start the game. That was when Rockies nemesis Matt Kemp clubbed a changeup that reached beyond the center-field wall, and Brett Wallace followed with another homer. But the hard lesson came in the sixth.
Still with a chance to escape with the game tied, 3-3, Wallace swatted his 1-2 slider, which Butler was hoping would freeze him, the other way for the go-ahead RBI double.
"I threw a pretty good slider," Butler said. "Looking back at it, maybe I'd bury it [in the dirt]. But I thought we had the outside open, and he put a good swing on it."
Butler, making his first start after being called up from Triple-A Albuquerque last Wednesday, struck out three and forced weak contact for most of the game. But all four hits off him went for extra bases, and five of his six baserunners scored.
"I strung together a lot of good pitches, but when I look back at it, three or four of them changed the outcome of that game," Butler said.
A supplemental first-round pick in the 2012 Draft, Butler had a rough beginning to his Major League career, going 4-11 with a 6.04 ERA in 19 starts in 2014-15. But after starting this season well at Albuquerque and having an encouraging relief appearance last Wednesday against the Pirates (one run, 2 1/3 innings), Butler has begun approaching the Rockies' expectations. But on Tuesday night, he wasn't quite there.
"His two-seamer was real hard and heavy, slider was real good, but little by little, the ball started getting elevated," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
It looked as if Butler would have enough cushion to muddle through. Charlie Blackmon opened the game with a home run, and the Rockies loaded the bases after him before recording an out. But Padres starter Andrew Cashner ended the inning trailing just 2-0. The Rockies added a run in the second on Trevor Story's RBI single, but Nolan Arenado's third-inning leadoff single was their last hit as the Padres faced the minimum the rest of the way.
It was a lot to ask of a starting pitcher. Butler, however, made it through the first five innings in 59 pitches. But 21 pitches later, with two outs in the sixth and three more Padres runs across, he was out of the game.
"I had an opportunity to get the team on the right track, and I ended up going out like that," Butler said.