Karl Kauffmann’s MLB learning curve continues in

DENVER • Karl Kauffmann’s otherwise solid start went off the rails over the course of 35 pitches.

The Rockies dropped a 10-2 home contest Wednesday night to the visiting Marlins at Coors Field with the right-hander’s gaffes stretching through the fourth and fifth innings. Miami tallied five earned runs on six hits to sour Kauffman’s second MLB start. The 25-year-old Michigan native is riding a big-league learning curve.

“Command of the fastball from the first throw I make — that’s going to be a focus,” Kauffmann said from the postgame dressing room. “Getting ahead, staying ahead and then putting guys away. … As a whole, I’ve just got to be better.”

Kauffmann’s clean first three innings were aided by two groundball double plays turned by the Colorado infield. But his total balls-to-strike ratio (37 to 45) points to larger issues that need fixing. Kauffmann’s performance was very similar to his MLB debut last week in Texas. The Rangers and Marlins both solved Kauffman on their third time through the lineup. Kauffman issued three walks and two strikeouts against Miami.

“He’s got to get the fastball in the strike zone, and he’s got to get in good spots,” Rockies manager Bud Black said of Kauffmann. “He threw a couple of decent sliders. The changeup, for me, has to come into play a little bit more so he has a true three-pitch mix. … It’s a little bit more of being on the attack and trusting his stuff.” 

Hold the lead

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Colorado is MLB’s lone team that’s undefeated, 19-0, when leading after seven innings.

Don’t get it twisted. The Rockies are still climbing out of the NL West basement (21-29) now past the quarter-turn of the season. But their historically uneven bullpen has not imploded lately when they’re needed the most.

Marlins 10, Rockies 2

What happened: The Rockies dropped a lopsided game to the reigning NL Cy Young winner (Miami’s Sandy Alcántara) with lackluster pitching and hitting. But Colorado can still win the series on Thursday afternoon.

On the mound: RHP Karl Kauffmann, in his second-career MLB start, was solid before a rough fourth inning. He gave up two hits and issued two walks. The Marlins also executed a double steal, including home, for a 2-1 lead. It got worse. Kauffmann got pulled after one-third inning in the fifth after allowing three more earned runs on four hits. Colorado reliever Peter Lambert proved unable to stop the bleeding. He gave up five earned runs on six hits over 2⅔ innings of work.

At the plate: The Rockies took an early 1-0 lead after Charlie Blackmon ripped a leadoff triple and Jurickson Profar brought him home with an RBI double. Elias Diaz launched his fifth home run of the season in the sixth inning. But Colorado went just 1-of-5 overall with runners in scoring position.

What’s next: Miami Marlins (LHP Braxton Garrett, 1-2) vs. Colorado Rockies (LHP Kyle Freeland, 4-5), 1:10 p.m. Thursday (AT&T SportsNet) at Coors Field.

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