DENVER - Before his team took the field on Friday, Ryne Sandberg confirmed that Cole Hamels would jump into his rotation next week in Los Angeles. It will be Hamels’ first start of 2014.
After watching Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett throw back-to-back gems in the final two games of the homestand, Sandberg was feeling good about what his rotation would look like in less than a week.
"I think those guys set a tone of what could be to come with adding Hamels to the rotation," Sandberg said.
But then Jonathan Pettibone took the mound. And as Hamels’ placeholder in the rotation, Pettibone took any momentum gained from the previous two days and watched it disappear in the thin Denver air.
Will the Phillies be over .500 when they finish their road trip?
Pettibone put the Phillies down by a touchdown before the end of his second inning of work as the Rockies routed Ryno and Co. 12-1.
And the game wasn’t even that close: Colorado outhit the Phillies 18-2. Troy Tulowitzki led the Colorado assault, going 3-for-3 with a home run, a walk and five RBIs.
After the game, Pettibone was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Shawn Camp will join the bullpen in Denver on Saturday.
"Pettibone is still trying to get some rust off," Sandberg said of the pitcher who only joined the rotation a week ago when a fifth starter was needed for the first time this season. "Pitching behind the count and pitching elevated fastballs is a tough combination. … The elevated pitches weren’t missed tonight."
Regardless if the Phillies won or lost, Pettibone was bound for Allentown. Hamels will jump into his spot in the rotation, either Tuesday or Wednesday, and the Phils chose to use the extra roster spot on a reliever that could be used in the three or four games prior to Hamels’ start.
Pettibone only wished he left the Phils on better terms before rejoining the IronPigs.
"You want to leave a lasting impression, so they know who they want to call back up when someone is needed," Pettibone said. "It’s frustrating. But like I said, I’ll go down there, get after it and get better."
After the Rockies scored four times in the first inning, Pettibone put Carlos Gonzalez on with a free pass after falling behind him 3-0 with the first three pitches. The next hitter was Tulowitzki.
The Rockies shortstop responded by clubbing a three-run home run. The ball landed among the collection of pine trees beyond the center field fence, just to the left of the Phillies bullpen.
It was a bullpen that would be called on early and often after pitching just two innings in the previous three days.
Pettibone gave up eight runs before the Phillies had recorded a hit on Friday. Cody Asche’s two-out single in the fifth inning, which snapped a personal 0-for-16 slump, broke Rockies righthander Tyler Chatwood’s no-hit bid.
Two batters later, the Phillies sent Jayson Nix in to pinch hit for Pettibone. Nix knocked in the Phils’ first run of the night, bringing his team within seven runs of the Rockies 8-1 lead.
"The hitters were saying his fastball had some late life on it, both directions," Sandberg said of Chatwood. "The guys just did not get a good look at him. … It was a tough combination with getting behind the eight ball early and a tough tone with no offense to back it."
In his second start of the season with the Phillies, Pettibone needed 36 pitches to get through the first inning. Fourteen of those came against Tulowitzki, who fouled off eight straight balls before taking first base on a walk.
"He didn’t have a pitch to get him out," Sandberg said.
"I literally threw everything I could at that point," Pettibone said of the long at-bat. "At the same time I didn’t want to give in. that was a big situation, first and second, one out. I didn’t want to walk him or give him something to drive. I just kept battling and battling. I tip my hat to him. He’s a heck of a hitter and he did his job today."
Justin Morneau followed Tulowitzki’s walk followed with a two-run double. It would have cleared the bases if the Phillies didn’t get a lucky bounce - the ball hopped over the fence for a ground rule double.
But the Phillies were neither lucky or good for the remainder of the night.
The Rockies scored two more times in the first inning against Pettibone. In the fourth inning, Tulowitzki stepped to the plate for the third time against Pettibone and knocked in another run, this time with a double.
With little doubt the night would end with a victory, the Rockies took Tulowitzki out in the eighth inning. He was a triple short of the cycle.
Pettibone’s exit came four innings earlier. His final, forgettable pitching line: four innings, nine hits, eight earned runs, two walks, one strikeout and one home run.
Pettibone has an 18.00 ERA in two career starts at Coors Field.
"I just have to get better, make better pitches," Pettibone said. "(There’s) no real time for making excuses. Their guy did fine. It comes down to making pitches."
Possibly the only piece of encouraging news on a night when Pettibone was rocked and one of the Phillies two hits came from a pinch hitter: Mike Adams made his first appearance in 10 months.
Adams, who had shoulder surgery on July 31, pitched a perfect fifth inning. The ball never left the infield.
"He was down in the zone," Sandberg said of Adams, who signed a two-year, $12 million before the 2013 season to be the team’s set-up man in the bullpen. "It looked like he had some good movement on his pitches."