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Isotopes boss stays positive despite struggles

Isotopes shortstop Peter Mooney throws out a Reno base runner during the ‘Topes’ 10-1 loss to the Aces on Tuesday.

After a 10-0 loss to end a road trip on Monday was followed by a quick 10-0 deficit in four innings in Tuesday’s night’s return to Albuquerque for the Isotopes, manager Glenallen Hill had some work to do.

The Triple-A manager is big on keeping things positive in a young clubhouse that is not geared primarily for winning, but for long-term growth and development to one day help the big-league parent club, the Colorado Rockies. And after his ’Topes lost to Reno on Tuesday, 10-1 in front of an announced crowd of 6,696 at Isotopes Park, Hill wasn’t about to dwell on the negatives.

“I always look for positives because this is a player development league,” said Hill. “It’s our job to manage confidence.”

So, what were the positives in a game that saw the home team down 5-0 after only five Reno Aces batters had come to the plate in the top of the first on Tuesday, and then trailing 10-0 in the top of the fourth inning? This arguably was 26-year-old starting pitcher Jeff Hoffman’s worst start of his professional career.

“The positives about this game is that if you take away the first and the fourth innings, they only had two hits over seven innings,” Hill said. “So, (hopefully) some momentum will carry in tomorrow. (Relief pitcher Nelson) Gonzalez put up some zeros. (Mitch) Horacek puts up some zeros. And (Sam) Howard put up some zeros.”

For the 26-year-old Hoffman, it was the most earned runs allowed in his five seasons of professional baseball. The 2014 first-round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays twice had allowed nine earned runs in games — with the Colorado Rockies on June 21, 2017, in a home loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks and on Aug. 14 last season with the ’Topes in a home loss to Tacoma. Hoffman’s stat line on Tuesday night was four innings pitched, 10 hits, 10 earned runs, two walks and two strikeouts.

Hill said it is now on Hoffman to study the film and learn from his mistakes. “He didn’t have very good command of his fastball,” Hill said. “And the fastballs that were thrown towards the plate were either missed or thrown right down the middle. And he didn’t use his breaking stuff effectively. They were a non-factor, and they just sat on fastballs and got some balls out over the plate.”

HERE COME THE HOT DOGS: The first of two 50-cent hot dog nights this season will be Wednesday at Isotopes Park. In an effort to promote the popular event, KRQE sports reporter Jared Chester painted his face like Tim Janus, known in the competitive eating world as “Eater X” and tried to see how many hot dogs he could eat between first pitch and the fifth inning. He finished 20 hot dogs before calling it a night.

“Horrible,” Chester said when asked how he felt after the gluttonous feast. “I feel terrible. Wouldn’t do that again.” So, bring your appetites, Isotopes fans. Gates open at 5:30 p.m

WIND FOR THE WIN: On a night devoid of many home- team highlights, there was a moment that will be remembered fondly by Isotopes staff for sometime.

During the third inning, a gust of wind blew through the Frank Smith Memorial Press Lounge. It blew public relations assistant Andrew Cockrum’s score sheet out of the window and high into the sky above Isotopes Park, where it slowly floated over the protective netting behind home plate and onto the field while Hoffman was pitching.

The score sheet eventual landed on the first base line, causing a brief stoppage in play for a bat boy to run onto the field to retrieve the paper.

Isotopes third baseman Elliot Soto hauls in a Reno foul pop fly as catcher Chris Rabafo is ready to help. The Aces routed the Isotopes, 10-1.