This was the kind of effort the Diamondbacks have searched during the opening three weeks.
They finally found a starting pitcher who could eat innings, shut down the opposition and find a way to keep his team in the game.
Enter Josh Collmenter.
Not quite anointed the Savior of the Moment, Collmenter’s strong effort signaled the return of a starter who could be considered dependable.
Reaching a pitch count of 98 through six innings of work, manager Kirk Gibson pulled Collmenter but the solid effort was the kind of result the Diamondbacks desperately needed. In the end, Collmenter and five relievers held off the Philadelphia Phillies for a 5-4 victory before 28,168 in Chase Field.
With a solid effort, Collmenter lowered his ERA from 4.50 at the start of the game to 3.38 and gained his first win of the season.
“Location was key for me,” Collmenter said. “Plus, I was able to use all of my pitches. (Catcher Miguel) Montero called a great game and that allowed me to mix in a curve for strikes.”
Despite allowing lead-off singles in four of the first five innings, Collmenter pitched out of each situation. In no inning did Collmenter allow more than one runner and gave the Phillies only those four base runners during his six innings. For his effort, Collmenter gave up those four hits, walked none, stuck out five and threw 61 strikes among the 98 tossed.
“(Collmenter) hit his spots,” said Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who finished the night 1-for-4 before lifted for a pinch runner in the eighth. “We had chances early but didn’t capitalize. He made his pitches and we couldn’t find any real estate.”
Second baseman Aaron Hill provided the offense with a three-RBI night that included a pair of extra base hits. Hill unloaded his second bomb of the season in the fourth with one on and, in the fifth, doubled in Paul Goldschmidt, who previously singled in Gerardo Parra.
Center fielder A. J. Pollock added what turned into the winning run with an eighth inning home run off Phils’ reliever Jake Diekman.
Within the perspective of the Diamondbacks’ horrid start, the win over Philly created a three game winning streak and a heartbeat can now be detected in the clubhouse.
The victory was only the second this season at Chase Field and the D-backs home record now stands at 2-11, including two losses to the Dodgers in Sydney, Australia.
After Thursday’s win in Chicago, catcher Miguel Montero made a point to come to the defense of management.
Sure, the Diamondbacks are off to a difficult start and several are calling for the heads of manager Kirk Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers to roll. Montero, for one, thinks the dialogue is extreme and summoned, prior to Friday’s game with the Phillies, reporters to his locker to clear the air.
“The bottom line is we have to play better baseball,” Montero said through a thicket of notepads and microphones. “As players, we need to turn this around and I’m uncomfortable about the comments about (Gibson and Towers’) jobs.”
Montero said he took the incentive because, as he explained, “as players, we need to commit.” He discounted the notion of being a leader on the team but pointed out, “this is a team, and we need to respond as a team.”
Because of the negativity surrounding the start, Montero said he felt compelled to put the blame on the players and not on Gibson and Towers.
“I felt I had to say something,” he added. “I thought it was the right time and this came from my heart. Going forward, we need to believe in our talents.”
TO BE DETERMINED
The ultimate diagnosis of the stress fracture to Mark Trumbo’s right foot of remains inconclusive.
One thing is certain and Trumbo did suffer a stress fracture. He was immediately placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 24. In addition to the stress fracture, there could also be additional damage.
That’s because more tests are being administrated but it is apparent Trumbo will be lost for a considerable period of time.
At worse, Trumbo is expected to miss nearly two months and could return by the All-Star break. At this point, Trumbo had an MRI and TT scan results are still be determined.
In the power department, Trumbo was off to a qualified start. In 21 games, Trumbo banged out seven home runs and drove in 19 runs.
“With (Trumbo) out, that means other players need to step forward,” said manager Kirk Gibson prior to Friday’s game with the Phillies. “The MRI showed something and this will be lengthy.”
Veteran Cody Ross is expected to get the bulk of playing time in left field but Gibson would not commit to Ross playing every day.
“Cody is still coming along,” Gibson said. “He is accelerating in all phases but I don’t think he’s strong enough, at this point, to go every day.”
Left-handed hitting Tony Campana was in the line-up playing left field Friday night in the series opener against the Phillies.