Ottavino takes step forward after struggles

Rockies reliever throws scoreless inning in Tuesday's win over Twins

Ottavino takes step forward after struggles

MINNEAPOLIS -- Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino's clean eighth inning in Tuesday night's 7-3 victory over the Twins was a stride in the right direction.

In his first four outings in May, Ottavino -- Colorado's primary right-handed setup man -- gave up four runs on three hits and six walks in just 2 1/3 innings. Just one of the outings -- one inning during Saturday night's 4-0 loss to the Dodgers -- was clean. He needed 19 pitches on Tuesday against the Twins to produce a groundout, strikeout and flyout.

Rockies manager Bud Black said Ottavino, pitching coach Steve Foster and bullpen coach Darren Holmes have zeroed in on some fundamental fixes.

"We've talked about that -- the first-hitter efficiency and even his lack of control through the first handful of pitches," Black said. "There has been a little bit of a teaching moment on the mechanics side. He discovered some things, and he, [Foster and Holmes] talked yesterday.

"It centers around his stride direction, which will not inhibit any of his deception or stuff. He threw the ball much better yesterday. His stuff was solid. It was a much-needed clean inning."

Worth noting

• Center fielder Charlie Blackmon, who entered Wednesday tied with the Astros' George Springer for the lead among home runs from the leadoff spot with nine, said after Tuesday's game that he is getting an increased number of offspeed pitches in fastball counts. And according to Statcast™, he is crushing non-fastballs.

• Blackmon shows he's #ASGWorthy vs. Twins

Six of his home runs have come on sliders and changeups, and he has a .737 slugging percentage against sliders, 1.000 against changeups and .714 against curveballs.

Blackmon also has produced some notable clutch stats. He's hitting .436 with three doubles, two triples, five home runs and 18 RBIs with two outs and is 9-for-18 with a double and four home runs with two outs and runners in scoring position.

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.