Jharel Cotton had a memorable Triple-A debut at the expense of the Albuquerque Isotopes.
The 23-year-old Cotton pitched Oklahoma City out of a two-on, one-out jam in the bottom of the sixth – the ‘Topes’ last significant offensive threat of the evening. Then he broke the game open with a two-RBI triple down the left-field line in the top of the seventh inning as the Dodgers defeated Albuquerque 8-2 in front of an announced crowd of 7,479 at Isotopes Park on Tuesday night.
Cotton’s two-run triple gave Oklahoma City a 4-1 lead, and what was a close game unraveled from there as the Dodgers tacked on another run in the seventh and three more in the eighth to remove all suspense from the final outcome.
Other than home runs from Cristhian Adames in the opening inning and Tom Murphy in the ninth, the ‘Topes’ bats were largely silent.
“I can tell you anytime the starting pitcher gives up a triple to the relief pitcher in that situation, it’s not good,” Isotopes manager Glenallen Hill said. “That was a turning point, but we only scored two runs tonight.”
Cotton, who compiled a 5-2 record and 2.30 ERA during a stint with Double-A Tulsa, allowed hits to two of the first three ‘Topes he faced in the sixth. But he put the clamps on from there, striking out both Wilin Rosario and Murphy looking to end the threat. Cotton issued a leadoff walk and then struck out the next three Albuquerque batters in the bottom of the seventh before calling it a night.
“My first impressions of him were his first two pitches were high fastballs, and it really didn’t look like he was getting very much angle. Then he quickly made an adjustment and he got some downward angle, and he was able to command the outer half of the plate,” Hill said. “He spotted the ball well, and you know he has a good breaking ball. He gets his release point out front, which allows his breaking ball to show up. Had he have continued to throw high fastballs, we would have been in a much better position. His arm speed got quicker as that inning went on.”
Cotton was far from a solo act, however. David Huff (5-1) handcuffed Albuquerque over the first five innings, allowing two hits and a run, with four strikeouts. It was Huff’s first start since April 30, a fill-in performance necessitated by the absence of the injured Brandon Beachy.
For much of the game, it was something of a pitcher’s duel.
After Oklahoma City’s Corey Seager and Albuquerque’s Adames traded homers in the first inning, both Huff and John Lannan (6-9) settled into a groove for the next four innings. Seager’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the fifth gave the Dodgers a 2-1 edge and provided the only scoring during that time.
While Huff was lifted prior to the sixth inning, things unraveled a little bit for Lannan in the seventh. Scott Schebler and Kyle Jensen reached on consecutive singles, and one batter later, Cotton made a lasting first impression at the plate to completely shift the momentum.
“I think it was pretty obvious that he (Lannan) was in control up until that point,” Hill said. “I wanted him to go as far as he could go, give him a chance to take control of that game – and it got away from him.”