LOS ANGELES -- Five batters in, and Eddie Butler had nothing. All five had reached based, three on walks, and Justin Turner hit a 408-foot shot to stake the Dodgers a 3-0 lead with no outs.
Yet, after a mound visit from the coaching staff, one could say Butler went on to be nearly perfect, facing one batter less the minimum for the rest of the game thanks to a double play that ended the first. That performance wasn't enough to help the Rockies get the win Tuesday, falling, 4-3, in walk-off fashion, but he certainly kept the game within reach.
"It's not uncommon to labor through first innings, we always talk about pitchers being vulnerable in that first inning," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "They don't have a rhythm yet ... to Eddie's credit, that's one of the areas of growth we've seen with him. He doesn't melt down, he pulls it together and gives us a competitive outing. That's what he did again tonight."
Butler exceeded his season-high in walks by the first inning and had clear trouble controlling the ball, throwing seven strikes and 14 balls to the first five batters. The next two hitters only saw one ball total from Butler while grounding into three outs.
Butler attributed his early struggles to some tweaks he made to try and improve his first-inning 7.50 ERA, including a shorter warmup in the bullpen.
"We tried something a little differently today and it didn't work out," Butler said. "Once we got through there, [I] was able to lock it in and shut them down for the rest. Give these guys a fighting chance to come back and almost make something special happen."
Butler only allowed three baserunners after the first, and all three were nullified by double plays. Most of that success was thanks to weak conduct induced with two-seamers. As improbable as it seemed after the bumpy start, Butler exited the game after the sixth inning with his third quality start of the season.
Runs scored in the third and seventh inning tied the score at 3-3 for the Rockies, but a Trayce Thompson walk-off homer rendered the comeback moot. Despite the loss, a decision he didn't officially factor into, Butler will take home an encouraging bounceback performance and another improvement to his solid 3.08 ERA on the road.
Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com who covered the Rockies on Monday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.