An impressive outing on the mound from starter Jeff Hoffman highlighted an all-around strong outing for the Albuquerque Isotopes in the team’s final game as the Mariachis de Nuevo Mexico. Hoffman pitched a career high eight innings, allowing seven hits, one run, walking two and striking out five in a 7-1 win over the Sacramento River Cats, who suited up as the Dorados de Sacramento in front of a crowd of 13,553.
“All year the curveball has been kind of a weak spot for me, which is new,” Hoffman said. “That’s always kind of been my pitch my whole life. Tonight I just said this is my best pitch, this is the one I’ve been throwing my whole life, this is what got me here, I’m just going to trust it.”
He said that it was a breath of fresh air for him to have good results tonight following an outing where he felt like he had a good game plan and executed well, but didn’t see the same sort of success.
The Mariachis started the scoring in the first inning thanks to a triple from third baseman Josh Fuentes that brought Brendan Rodgers home from first. An additional run scored in each of the next two innings, including a two-out RBI single from Hoffman in the second. The Mariachis pushed the lead to five in the fourth thanks to a pair of solo home runs from the recently optioned Pat Valaika and Stephen Cardullo.
After five shutout innings from Hoffman, the Dorados finally broke through in the sixth to score their only run of the game. Coming off his worst start of the season, Hoffman rebounded, in part due to a tweak in his strategy.
“My last start I was attacking just like I want to be, maybe just too much,” Hoffman said. “I think I got too much of the zone with a lot of pitches in my last outing. Today was more like narrowing the focus and trusting that my command was good enough to pick my spot and let it go.”
The crowd also provided additional motivation for him as he looked to capitalize on all of the energy in the building.
“It’s nice, especially when you’ve pitched in the big leagues and you see what those crowds are like, down here you don’t always get that so when you do, it’s like let’s make the most of this because you don’t see this every day.
A bobblehead giveaway resulted in an early arriving crowd, with some fans lining up as early as 2:00 p.m., according to the team. In four Mariachis games this season, the team drew a total of 55,235 spectators, which included a record setting crowd of 16,975 for the first of the four games. With an off day tomorrow, the team now heads down the road to El Paso for a three game set before returning to Isotopes Park on Friday for the final home series of the year.
Cameron Goeldner is a sports beat reporter and photographer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer, softball and the Albuquerque Isotopes, but also contributes content for baseball, basketball, football and track and field. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @goeldfinger.