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Butler's gem marred by Dahl injury

Starter hurls six one-hit frames, top prospect pulls hamstring
May 7, 2013

Eddie Butler is making a habit of putting up zeros, but an injury to the Rockies top prospect took some of the shine off his latest gem.

Butler allowed a lone infield single over six scoreless innings Tuesday, but David Dahl left after pulling his right hamstring in the first inning of the Asheville Tourists' 9-3 road win over the Augusta GreenJackets.

"It definitely hurts to have our best outfielder and one of the top hitters go out like that," Butler said. "When he went down, he grabbed his leg. It's rough and it kind of knocked us down mentally. It definitely put a damper on the game."

Dahl lined an RBI double to left field and scored in a first inning that saw the Tourists send 12 batters to the plate and score seven runs.

In his second at-bat of the inning,'s No. 55 overall prospect plated two more runs with a two-out infield hit. After running through the bag at first, Dahl fell to the ground and had to be helped off the field.

Selected 10th overall in last year's Draft, the 19-year-old was replaced by pinch-runner Francisco Sosa.

"He was trying to beat out a base hit in the infield," Tourists manager Fred Ocasio said. "At first, I thought it was his knee, but it was a pulled hamstring. He did it before he got to the bag. We'll have more information tomorrow."

Asheville trainer Billy Whitehead confirmed a right leg injury but said he was not in position to provide additional information. The team said Dahl will be evaluated further and there is no timetable for his return.

As for Butler, Tuesday's outing was the latest in a string of dominant performances.

Colorado's No. 10 prospect struck out seven batters over 5 1/3 one-hit innings on Opening Day in West Virginia and followed it up with six shutout frames in Lexington five days later. On April 25, the 22-year-old right-hander gave up one hit over eight scoreless innings.

Against the GreenJackets, he exited with what he thought was a no-hitter intact. But the official scorer later changed a third-inning error to an infield single.

"It went pretty well, it definitely ranks up there," said Butler, who improved to 3-1. "I was definitely aware of [the no-hitter], but I was trying to suppress the whole thought of it because then I start pressing. I was trying to make too many good pitches and I started missing my spots."

As good as Butler has been at times, consistency has been an issue over the first five weeks of the season. He combined to surrender nine runs in consecutive starts against West Virginia and Rome last month. And he gave up five runs -- two earned -- on five hits over 5 2/3 innings in a loss to Hickory his last time out.

In seven starts this year, Butler -- selected 46th overall in the 2012 Draft -- ranks third in the South Atlantic League with 38 strikeouts but second with 22 walks.

"I walked a few too many and I wish I was more consistent," he said. "I'm missing around the zone and I need to tighten that up a little bit. It's just a little thing I need to work on. My sinker, slider, four-seamer, all were around the zone. I was just trying too much for the edges.

"It's easy to say to just throw it down the middle. I know a couple times I threw fastballs down the middle and they got hit to infielders, but trying to let them hit it is tough. It's a big block there. You're told not to throw it down the middle of the zone, but now I have the sinker they're saying throw it down the middle."

Butler threw 85 pitches through six innings, meaning he was not allowed to go back out for the seventh. His limit is 95, but if he's within 10 of that limit at the end of an inning he can't start a new one. If he's within five pitches in the middle of an inning, he's cannot face another batter.

"He was aggressive and he went after hitters," Ocasio said of Butler, who led the Pioneer League with a 2.13 ERA and .230 opponents' average while tying for third in wins (seven) in his professional debut last year.

"He kept the ball down and got a bunch of ground balls. That was a good outing for him."

Butler's batterymate, Tom Murphy, doubled to extend his hitting streak to 15 games, while Rosell Herrera collected two hits and a walk and has reached safely in 23 straight contests.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB.