Above: Josh Collmenter/ Photo by Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
Starting pitching has been paramount to the D-backs’ success in 2011. In a division where talented pitching is abundant, the Arizona starters have matched up well.
The D-backs came out swinging in Thursday night’s matchup against the visiting Chicago Cubs.
Behind a 10 hit outburst, the home team cruised to an 11-2 win in game one of the four-game series.
In the opening inning, the D-backs scored early and often against Cubs starter Ryan Dempster. Dempster would last just a third of an inning as the D-backs exploded for seven runs on four hits and four walks. It was the 20th seven run inning in team history.
Chris Young got things started by rocketing a Dempster offering into the left field corner for a standup double.
Kelly Johnson and Justin Upton both reached base via a walk and hit by pitch to load the bases. One batter later, Stephen Drew provided the striking blow by smashing his first career grand slam into the right field bleachers.
Dempster struggled mightily with his command, and the D-backs made him pay.
After Melvin Mora, Russell Branyan, and Gerardo Parra all walked, pitcher Barry Enright smacked an RBI single to right centerfield to plate Mora. The D-backs collected nine walks in the game.
In Young’s second at-bat of the inning, he laced an RBI single into left field to extend the Arizona lead to 7-0. With Young’s two hits in the same inning, it was the 23rd time a D-backs player had collected a pair of hits in the same frame.
“We haven’t had one like that in awhile,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “But at the same time you can’t relax. The guys played hard. The defense was awesome tonight.”
In the bottom of the second, the offensive outburst continued thanks to a leadoff single from Drew and Miguel Montero’s RBI double.
Arizona tacked on to its lead in the third on a two-run blast off the bat of Montero. The homer was his fourth of the season, and pushed the D-backs to a 10-1 lead.
Drew knocked in another RBI in the seventh for the D-backs’ 11th run of the night.
With that RBI groundout, Drew set a new career high with five RBI in a single game.
Enright dazzles in first win of season
In his first four starts this season, Barry Enright struggled to put together an all round solid effort. He entered his Thursday start with an 0-2 record and a 6.65 ERA.
The struggles on the mound came to an abrupt halt for Enright against the Cubs.
“It’s been a while from the last win,” Enright said. “They spotted me a pretty good lead in the first inning and took a lot of the pressure and attention off.”
The righthander cruised through the game’s first four innings, allowing just a solo home run to Cubs catcher Koyie Hill.
He set the Cubs down 1-2-3 in both the second and fourth frames.
Enright ran into trouble in the fifth when he walked three Cubs hitters to load the bases. He got out of the jam unscathed when Upton made a diving catch in right field to end the inning.
Later in the sixth, Enright’s defense helped him out yet again with a pair of phenomenal defensive plays from Mora and Parra. Enright then struck out Carlos Pena to end the inning and seal his third 1-2-3 inning of the night.
He hurled 6 2/3 innings of two-run baseball to earn his first win of the season.
“He just controlled the zone better,” Gibson said. “He went into that one inning where I think he walked three guys, but got a lot of ground ball outs.”
Enright believes he was able to make some necessary adjustments after watching film of his past starts.
“Definitely,” Enright said. “[Gibson] actually had me go back every day and watch all my starts last year. It actually really helped me, just seeing how I attacked hitters. The tempo I had was different this year.”
Collmenter solid in relief outing
D-backs reliever Josh Collmenter took over for Enright in the seventh inning and kept the Chicago bats quiet for the remainder of the game.
In the ninth, the right-hander struck out Tyler Colvin to start the inning. He then retired Hill on a fly out to left before getting the pinch hitter Darwin Barney to ground out for the final out.
Collmenter did not allow a single hit in his 2 1/3 innings of work. He fanned three batters while walking just one.
“I was excited to get a chance to finish the game,” Collmenter said. “The crowd gets on their feet. They get two strikes on the guy like I did and they’re just excited for a strikeout.”
Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Salvatore
In the second edition of the D-backs Insider Podcast, we caught up with starting pitcher Barry Enright, who can be found on Twitter with the handle @BarryEnright54.
We discussed his upbringing in California, playing college baseball in Malibu, his big league debut in St. Louis and life as a homeowner.
There are a few ways to listen to the podcast (length – 26:35). You can use the player below, download it as an MP3 or stream it in your media player. We also grabbed a five minute clip to watch on video.
Jarrod Parker – Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
Last season, Barry Enright made a name for himself in Arizona after his promotion to the Major Leagues in June.
In 2011, Enright finds himself battling for a spot in the D-backs rotation and the right-hander certainly started Spring Training with a strong performance.
Enright made his Spring debut in the third inning of the D-backs’ 6-5 loss to the Rockies on Monday afternoon at Salt River Fields, and did not disappoint.
In his first inning of work, Enright swiftly retired Dexter Fowler on a pop out to the catcher. Enright then showed off his glove work as he scrambled to haul in a ground ball off the bat of Jonathan Herrera for the second out of the inning.
Enright capped off the 1-2-3 inning by inducing Charlie Blackmon into an inning ending ground out.
In the top of the fourth inning, Enright returned to the mound and promptly retired Troy Tulowitzi on a line out and Todd Helton on a fly out to the shortstop.
Chris Nelson stepped to the plate and smacked a double off the left field wall, but Enright rebounded by striking out Cole Garner to end the inning.
While Enright fell behind a few hitters, he was able to fight back and avoid walking anyone.
“I struggled actually getting ahead,” Enright said. “So that was kind of frustrating. But (I was) able to get some balls down in the zone, get a few ground outs, which helped. It was good to only give up one hit, but to get behind in the count like that, I can hurt myself. Just got to work on getting ahead.”
In the end, Enright posted an impressive final line of two innings, one strikeout and only one hit allowed.
Like for many of his fellow pitchers, Enright enjoyed returning to competition.
“It’s good to get back out there,” Enright said. “Had to wait till Monday to do it and was kind of anxious. Good to get back on the bump and get a few pitches under my belt.”
Following Enright, it was Jarrod Parker’s turn to make his 2011 debut.
After missing all of last season due to an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery, Parker and the D-backs have long awaited his return to the mound.
On Monday afternoon, the return finally arrived.
“I was excited,” Parker said. “Just tried to stay within myself and be as calm as I can. The adrenaline was pumping and I was excited facing the Rockies, a pretty good lineup in today.”
In the top of the fifth, Parker retired the leadoff batter Matt Pagnozi via the strikeout. Parker did get in some trouble, issuing three walks in the inning. But with two outs and the bases loaded, Parker responded by getting Troy Tulowitzki to fly out to right field to end the threat.
That would be Parker’s lone inning on the afternoon as he finished with three walks, one strikeout, and no runs allowed.
“It’s good to get the inning under my belt and get some outs and battle a little bit,” Parker said. “It was fun.”
Monday afternoon photos by D-backs photographer Jordan Megehardt:
Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Salvatore
If you’ve been yearning to get a look at D-backs pitching prospect Jarrod Parker in action, today is your day.
The young righty will pitch against the Colorado Rockies. Obviously, pitchers aren’t firing with 100 percent of their velocity this early in the spring, but you’ll be able to watch Parker in his first professional game since July 2009, at least his first outside of instructional league.
It will also be our first glimpse of Barry Enright so far this spring.
After a terrific big league debut in 2010, he’s fighting for a rotation spot alongside veterans Zach Duke, Aaron Heilman and Armando Galarraga. Coincidentally, Monday is our first look at Galarraga in a D-backs uniform as well.
Here’s a look at who will be taking the mound for the next three days (* – indicates first Spring Training outing):
Monday vs. Rockies at Salt River Fields:
Armando Galarraga *
Barry Enright *
Jarrod Parker *
Backups: Matt Gorgen, Leyson Septimo, Micah Owings
Tuesday vs. Rockies at Salt River Fields:
Matt Gorgen *
Wednesday, split squad:
vs Mariners at Salt River Fields
Leyson Septimo *
vs. Giants at Scottsdale Stadium
Follow me on Twitter (Insider_Writer) for in-game updates.
Jarrod Parker looked good throwing a bullpen session on Wednesday at Salt River Fields.
Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
It was business as usual at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Wednesday as pitchers and catchers took part in day three of spring workouts.
Pitchers continued with bullpens, PFP (pitcher’s fielding practice), conditioning and hitting work.
Hitting figures to be a continuous work in progress for the pitching staff as manager Kirk Gibson has expressed his desire for pitchers to be able to handle the bat.
As workouts progress, several players have established a routine and are developing a routine.
“It feels great, obviously to be out here at the great Salt River fields,” pitcher Barry Enright said. “You can’t really complain being at this place, but two bullpens now. Obviously, getting into the conditioning and the thick of things and being with all the guys. It’s good to be back, and it’s definitely a lot less boring than being at home by myself.”
Among the pitchers who participated in workouts today was left-hander Clay Zavada. Zavada missed the first two days of camp for reasons he deemed were a personal matter.
While the southpaw did not throw a bullpen, he was able to play catch and workout.
“It was great,” Zavada said. “It was sunshine, everyone’s in a good mood, working hard. It’s a good group of guys. Staff is awesome. I love it. It’s been real exciting so far first day.”
Zavada said he hopes to throw a bullpen on Friday or Saturday.
While getting Zavada in camp was a priority, so was reaching an agreement with starting second baseman Kelly Johnson.
Johnson agreed to a one-year deal with the D-backs on Tuesday, which allowed him and the organization to avoid an arbitration hearing. Johnson reported to camp Wednesday.
“I don’t know anybody that’s ever been to a hearing so you go off of hearsay on things like that, and nobody has too many good of things to say,” second baseman Kelly Johnson said. “Besides all that, it’s no different than anybody else’s deal free agency or whatever. It’s one of those things that once it’s announced, it’s all good, but after that it’s all about team.”
Now that Johnson is under contract, the infielder has developed a winner’s mentality he hopes the D-backs will hold as team throughout 2011.
“I’ll be honest, I’m sick of the moral victory thing we started doing at the end of the year. I think we started with a really good, positive note going into spring training. Going into the season, I think everybody was very strong. I think we played great baseball in Spring Training. I know spring games don’t mean a lot, but there was just a lot of confidence. I think guys going up to the mound, going up to the plate, I think everybody was confident and positive. I thought we had a really good momentum going into the season.
“It was unfortunate the way some games were lost, but that’s how it works. You still have a chance to go and play in May, June and July. April and May, those months aren’t going to decide your season.”
Johnson is adamant that a moral victory attitude for the D-backs has to be put to an end this season.
“We started looking for those positives, but we’re losing,” Johnson said. “I think that’s got to be done. That’s go to be out the window, it’s got to be more about how are we going to win today. What are the Arizona Diamondbacks going to do today to win the baseball game?”
Here are some shots from D-backs staffer Jordan Megenhardt:
Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Dan Strittmatter
One of the many subplots of the 149-pitch Edwin Jackson no-hitter was how the team would give Jackson some extra rest to compensate for the fact that Jackson threw so many pitches in one outing. So when the news broke on Sunday that manager A.J. Hinch had decided to push back Jackson’s next start two day, it came as a surprise to nobody.
However, this opened up a hole in the rotation for Wednesday’s game in St. Louis, when Jackson was originally slated to start. The team did not have a day off between Jackson’s no-no and the Wednesday game, so any of the other members of the Arizona rotation would have had to pitch on short rest if they were to fill Jackson’s spot. Add in the fact that the D-backs rotation has already been heavily taxed in 2010, and it was clear that an alternative solution was needed.
So the team instead looked to the minor leagues, announcing that it will purchase the contract of Double-A Mobile right-hander Barry Enright, who will bring his fantastic command of his four-pitch mix to St. Louis for his Major League debut in Jackson’s place.
Enright was selected by the D-backs in the second round of the 2007 draft following his junior year at Pepperdine University, where he was a third team All-American. He threw 15 innings that year, split between Short-Season Yakima, Single-A South Bend, and Single-A Advanced Visalia. Enright then started 2008 back at Visalia, where he went 12-8 in 29 starts with a 4.44 ERA (3.34 FIP), a 143:35 K:BB ratio, and 17 home runs allowed in 29 starts spanning 164 1/3 innings.
Enright then moved up to Double-A Mobile in 2009, where he had a solid basic production – a 3.98 ERA in 27 starts spanning 156 innings. But he saw his impressive strikeout rate from Visalia dip, recording just 103 punch-outs, a rate of just 5.94 per nine innings. He remained effective by continuing to be stingy in allowing free-passes, keeping his FIP at a solid 3.82.
In 2010, the team invited Enright to Major League camp for Spring Training, and the club got an extended look at their polished right-hander, who put on an impressive display, with his overall numbers spiked by an unfortunate string of singles in his final appearance. There is video available of Enright’s fourth Spring appearance, when he walked just one and struck out four Cubs, including Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee, and Alfonso Soriano, video here.
Due to upper-level depth of starting pitching in the system — with Kevin Mulvey, Bryan Augenstein, Cesar Valdez, Kris Benson and Billy Buckner then manning Triple-A Reno’s Opening Day rotation slots, subsequently followed by Matt Torra and Wes Roemer — Enright was assigned to Mobile again to begin 2010 and try to resurrect his strikeout rate.
The results have been everything the team could have hoped for, as Enright has struck out 83 in 93 2/3 innings over 14 starts, while still allowing just 15 free passes, giving him a D-backs’ system-best 5.53 strikeouts per walk. His ERA is a shiny 2.88, his FIP an equally-impressive 3.06, and his WHIP is a spectacular 1.02.
Mobile catcher Konrad Schmidt offered his scouting report of Enright when the news broke that Enright would be called up to the majors:
“He’s really a competitor on the mound,” Schmidt told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. “He’s got good stuff and he’s really fun to catch. He’s got great command, throwing four pitches for a strike right now. There’s been some pretty potent lineups he’s gone against in this league and he’s done well. He’s like a bulldog.”