COLORADO SPRINGS -- Jason Hirsh threw 1 2/3 pain-free innings against the Sacramento River Cats on Thursday in Colorado Springs. He left the game with his ankle in good shape, but his Triple-A ERA was battered and bruised as he allowed six runs on six hits.
The Rockies rookie right-hander has said since the injury he would take "baby steps" throughout the process. His baby steps Thursday involved getting comfortable in a game situation. He said he wasn't thinking about his ankle and estimated -- halfway jokingly -- it's at 94 2/3 percent.
Hirsh was slated to go two innings -- or 40 pitches -- for the Triple-A Sky Sox. He threw 39 pitches -- 28 for strikes -- before leaving the game with two outs and a runner at second in the second inning. He had three strikeouts and no walks, but the River Cats scored six runs in the second after a perfect first inning for Hirsh.
"Today was just leaving some pitches up," he said. "If I was throwing against the Nationals today and if I leave pitches up, I'm probably out of the game by the second inning just like today. I've just got to make sure to get the ball down and find the comfort level to get the ball down."
Hirsh threw all four of his pitches -- fastball, slider, curveball and changeup -- and had trouble locating his changeup. He estimated he was throwing in the low 80s, but the Sky Sox radar gun indicated he was in the mid-to-high 80s.
Hirsh had two strikeouts and needed only 12 pitches to get through the first inning. But the River Cats opened the second inning with four straight singles -- two bloopers -- and a double as Hirsh struggled with his control in the zone.
"I think I was a little bit rushed, because my balance wasn't quite there," he said. "I hadn't thrown in two weeks. Balance for me is definitely a big part of my rhythm when I throw."
Hirsh will start and throw 75 pitches Monday in Fresno for the Sky Sox. He said he hopes to rejoin the Rockies on Tuesday in Denver.
The rookie righty injured his right ankle on July 2, while trying to get back to third base on a pickoff attempt by Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca. Before the injury, Hirsh had pitched the best game of his season. He held the Mets scoreless in an efficient six innings, throwing only 61 pitches. In 17 starts this season with the Rockies, he's 4-7 with a 4.90 ERA.
Hirsh said that the trainers have told him he'll have discomfort and swelling in his ankle for the rest of the season.
"It's just a matter of how can I adjust myself and my mechanics to where I'm not hurting myself, but I'm being effective," he said.
C.J. Moore is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.