Betancourt, an 11 year veteran in the Bigs who saved 13 games for the Colorado Rockies jerseys just last season and owns a career 3.19 ERA, struggled against the O’s Advanced Rookie level hitters in his fourth appearance in the Pioneer League.
Missoula was already behind big at that point, though.
After small ball broke the scoreless tie 1 0 for the Rockies jerseys in the fourth, Grand Junction (17 12) hammered Osprey starter Carlos Hernandez for four runs in the fifth.
Hernandez served up back to back singles to start the frame and the runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt before Forrest Wall singled one home. The next batter, Yonathan Daza, got a bit more of the ball and deposited it beyond the fence for a three run homer.
“If we look at it, how’d that inning start?” Osprey manager Audo Vicente asked. “If it’s a walk or a 0 2 (pitch count) base hit, some times you get away with it. Most of the time they get you.”
The rally finished Hernandez’s (2 1) night and boosted his stellar season long ERA by more than a run from 2.96 to 3.99. The loss was his first of the year.
The righty had trouble baseball jerseys form china with his command again Wednesday, walking two in the first inning on his way to three free passes. That’s 11 total in his last three starts after just four in the first three.
“More than anything it’s his confidence,” Vicente said. “He’s lost his confidence a little bit. Overall he’s been doing very well but, especially in this league, you’ve got to be able to pitch down in the zone. When you miss, you need to miss down in the zone and you’ll survive.”
Trailing 5 0, Missoula took a few back the next inning against Betancourt, a 39 year old working his way back to form after Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
Betancourt got an easy fly out for the first out of the bottom of the sixth before Justin Williams walked. Kevin Cron crushed one hard to the gap in right, pulling up with a double that scored Williams all the way from first.
“That’s what we’re all hoping to do, play in the big leagues so it’s obviously pretty cool to play against someone who’s been there,” Cron said of his battle with Betancourt. “At the same time, he’s down here getting his rehab and we’re trying to win the game. You’ve got to produce regardless of who’s on the mound.”
Betancourt would have escaped the inning with no more damage if not for an error and a sharply hit grounder thatan infielder couldn’t handle. Lopez to reach base while runs scored.
Instead, a big leaguer with MLB postseason experience couldn’t survive Missoula’s infamous peanut inning.
It’s Betancourt’s second time facing the O’s. He allowed one run in an inning of work when the Osprey swung through Grand Junction last week.
Williams finished with two of Missoula’s six hits to raise his batting average to .350. He’s hitting .385 in July and leads the Pioneer League in hits with 41, but even the scorching hot Williams couldn’t help the Birds pull out of the nosedive.
The team’s eighth loss in 10 games leaves the O’s just a game ahead of Helena out of last in the North Division at 12 17.
Wednesday’s matchup was the first of seven straight at home against Grand Junction and Orem.
“You try to look at every game as a blank slate because those are in the past and you have to play the next day,” said Cron, who was 1 for 3 and also reached on a hit by pitch Wednesday. “It’s nice to be back getting to play some games at home though, getting into our routine again.