Chatwood tripped up by another big inning

Chatwood tripped up by another big inning

DENVER -- Every inning counts, and in too many games, one inning counts heavily against Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood.

On Friday night against the Dodgers, Chatwood allowed five runs in the second inning of a 6-2 loss to the Dodgers. It was the sixth time this season Chatwood has given up three or more runs in a single inning.

Outside of those bad innings, Chatwood has not yielded much. But all that gets you is a 3-5 record and 5.25 ERA through eight starts. On Friday, the second inning -- which featured three walks and three extra-base hits -- required so many pitches (35) that he lasted just 4 1/3 innings.

Chatwood tried to keep the explanation simple.

"Walks," he said. "I think I had three walks in that inning, which is not ideal, especially in this park."

Of the six games in which Chatwood has struggled in one particular inning, he's walked at least one in the frame five times.

Chatwood struggled at Coors Field last year and has more high-run games (Sunday's one run and two hits against the D-backs was the outlier) at home. However, two of the big-inning outings occurred on the road. He coughed up three in the fourth, including two homers, at Milwaukee on April 5. He carried a no-hitter into the fifth at San Diego on May 2, but gave up five runs and retired just one batter in the sixth.

Three of the big innings in question featured two homers, and another featured one homer. There were no homers Friday.

Uncompetitive second-inning pitches -- 13 balls under the strike zone, some that bounced before reaching home plate, for example -- forced him to leave pitches in the zone just to get back into the count. Those led to Chase Utley's two-run triple, Joc Pederson's RBI double and Corey Seager's two-run double.

"He was getting behind and missing arm side a lot and couldn't find the strike zone and didn't want to give in to us," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "For us to be able to take the walk when we needed and create traffic was good. We had a couple big hits to clear the bases."

The bad innings are vexing because Chatwood is capable of domination. Sunday's game against the D-backs and the April 16, two-hit shutout at San Francisco are shining examples.

Manager Bud Black took his assessment beyond the bases on balls.

Black, a former Major League pitcher, noted that it has happened to several starters on a staff that has seen four rookies (Antonio Senzatela, Kyle Freeland, German Marquez and Jeff Hoffman) start games. Black opined that it's possible Chatwood -- by far the most-experienced rotation member with 105 appearances and 96 starts -- is being tripped up by the same issues as the rookies. It's focusing on the desired result, such as the strikeout or the double play, rather than the execution.

"You've just got to get outs," Black said. "If you get outs, minimize damage, make some pitches when you need to, to get one out. It looks like we're trying a little bit too hard to try to get stuff and velocity or make the perfect pitch. What happens is you end up falling behind in the count, you end up walking guys. It's a bad formula."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. 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.