In retrospect, the two week break at the All-Star game represented a world of difference for Diamondbacks’ right-hander Chase Anderson.
After running through his first two months of the season like a hot knife through butter, Anderson hit the wall. Gaining five wins in his first five starts in the major leagues, Anderson recorded only one victory in his next eight starts.
Until Friday night.
That’s when Anderson appeared to turn the clock back to May and early June, the time of his unbeaten streak. Though he threw 104 pitches, Anderson was more than effective, shut down visiting Colorado and beat the Rockies, 5-3 before 21,782 in Chase Field.
The win snapped the Diamondbacks three game losing streak and moved Arizona to within three and one-half games of third place San Diego in National League West.
On this productive night, Anderson recorded his seventh victory of the season but only his second win since June 8. In the process, Anderson, who allowed one run in six innings, dropped his ERA to 3.06, second on the team. Only the 1.81 allowed by reliever Oliver Perez is lower.
“My aim is to pitch well and give my team a chance to win,” Anderson said afterward. “Yeah, my pitch count was up and I’m trying to cut down on that. But, my fast ball was working and I was getting strikes early in the count.”
Before last month’s All-Star game, manager Kirk Gibson saw Anderson decline in strength and fast ball velocity. In deciding to shut Anderson down from July 7 to July 22, Gibson reported the break fully energized the 26-year-old native of Wichita Falls, Tex.
“We’ve cut down on his work load between starts,” Gibson said. “He used to put in more work and we’re limiting this. It’s the theory of saving your bullets.”
Allowing only a lead-off home run to catcher Michael McKenry in the fifth, Anderson did not allow more than one runner on base during any one inning. Save the home run, only one Colorado batter to reach second against Anderson was a lead-off double by Justin Morneau in the fourth.
Catcher Miguel Montero provided much of the offense Anderson needed.
After a first inning walk to Cliff Pennington and a double from David Peralta, Montero drilled the first pitch from Rockies’ starter Tyler Matzek into the right field bleachers for his 12th homer of the season and a quick 3-0 lead.
“It was a fast ball and I got a good swing on it from a tough pitcher,” Montero said. “Nice to get it there and pick up some of the guys.”
Peralta then put the finishing touches on this one when he stole home plate in the seventh. On third base and Montero on first with one out, McKenry was slow to get the ball back to reliever Rex Brothers, who dropped the ball in return. Quickly, Peralta took off and became the first Arizona player to steal home in seven years.
By crossing the plate, Peralta is the initial Diamondback, and sixth in franchise history, to accomplish the feat since Chris Young did so against the Braves on Aug. 19, 2007.
“I was waiting for the right time,” Peralta. “Guys on the bench, like (pitcher Randall) Delgado kept saying, ‘do it. Don‘t be afraid.’ So I said, okay. That’s the first time I’ve even stolen the plate and I saw the opportunity. The catcher was slow all game getting the ball back to the pitcher so I took off.”
By allowing two runs in the ninth inning, closer Addison Reed made things interesting but ended the game by getting Charlie Blackmon looking at a called third strike with two runners on base.
A PLETHORA OF LEFT ARMS
For the better part of the last six weeks, the Colorado Rockies, the Diamondbacks’ opponent this weekend in Chase Field, have had a different look to their starting rotation.
Because of injuries, manager Walt Weiss juggled his starters to a certain extent that his rotation became a rotation of all left-handers.
Only right-hander Jordan Lyles, back from the DL with a broken hand on Aug. 6, broke up the all-lefty rotation. Lyles (6-1, 3.72 ERA) is expected to start the Rockies’ next series, a three game set beginning this Monday night in San Diego.
In the meantime, Weiss continues with four lefties. Tyler Matzek started Friday night against the Diamondbacks, Jorge De La Rosa, who goes Saturday and Franklin Morales is slated for Sunday. With Lyles pitching on Monday, the fifth Colorado starter, lefty Yohan Flande is slated against the Padres on Tuesday.
During the course of the season, starters Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood, Brett Anderson and reliever Boone Logan all spent time on the disabled list. Over the course of campaign, the Rockies have had their share of pitchers on the disabled list.
With the preponderance of lefties in the rotation, Weiss remains realistic.
“It is what it is,” he said before Friday’s game with the Diamondbacks. “It’s not how you drawn it up and it’s a little strange to go with five lefties. It’s not what you want to do. Look, you just put their name on the line-up card and watch them go.”
JUST ONE WEEK AGO
It was last Friday night that first baseman Paul Goldschmidt broke this left hand from a pitch thrown by Pirates’ reliever Ernesto Frieri.
At the time, Frieri apologized feverishly and told reporters the next day because his ERA was so high, “I’m not about to put people on base.”
While his ERA was 9.31 at the time he hit Goldschmidt, Frieri has fallen on difficult time.
Though his ERA decreased to 7.34, the Pirates said “good-bye” to the Columbia-born right hander on Friday.
Frieri was designated for assignment.