Over the summer, there was a dramatic transformation in pitcher Randall Delgado.
From the infancy of spring training to a growing maturation in September, Delgado appears to lay the foundation for a worthy future.
If the Justin Upton trade last off-season may have been unpopular in some quarters, the deal seems beneficial to the Diamondbacks. As part of the transaction, Delgado came west from Atlanta with Martin Prado and minor league shortstop Nick Ahmed, who will play in this autumn’s Arizona Fall League.
In his latest audition for a significant spot in the rotation, Delgado delivered six strong innings and came away with an 8-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies before 28,845 Sunday afternoon in Chase Field. Delgado’s record now stands at 5-6 but his ERA dipped under four per game to a present 3.98.
In the process, the Diamondbacks took two of three from the Rox during the weekend series and that represented the first series victory since they took two of three from San Diego at home in late August.
In tossing 91 pitches for his six innings, Delgado committed the one sin in the Diamondbacks bible.
Do not throw directly over the plate.
In his pre-game session with the media Sunday, manager Kirk Gibson compared the execution of lefty Patrick Corbin and Delgado. Emphasizing Corbin will pitch to spots on the corner, Delgado has a tendency to elevate pitches over the plate.
That lack of execution cost Delgado a goose egg Sunday.
In the Rockies fifth, Delgado walked Jonathan Herrera and proceeded to throw a belt-high fast ball over the middle to pinch hitter Charlie Culberson, who promptly delivered the mistake into the left field bleachers for his first career pinch-hit home run.
“Actually, it was not too bad a pitch,” said Gibson. “It was a two seam fast ball and (Delgado) has been working on that pitch. Right now, the runs he’s giving up have been on home runs. Once he cuts down, he’ll be very good. He’s throwing first pitch strikes to hitters and that’s a good sign.”
Otherwise, Delgado was efficient and laid claim he could rise to a possible number two starter in the 2014 rotation.
From throwing in the mid-90s through spring training, Delgado has cut down slightly on the velocity but picked up an effective curve. At this point, he’s conscience of one basic element.
“I can’t throw a curve that hangs,” he said. “The curve has to break down and away, and I’m working on that. Good location on the curve is important.”
Overall, Delgado’s efficient outing clearly put the Diamondbacks in a position to generate offense. As a result, his solid effort was aided by Paul Goldschmidt’s five RBI afternoon.
In the first, Goldschmidt drove in Adam Eaton from third, and then lifted a towering two-run home run to dead center field in the third. In the fourth, he knocked in two more with a double into the left-center field gap. The home run was Goldschmidt's first in 83 at-bats and dated back to Aug. 20 at Cincinnati.
The five runs-batted-in pushed Goldschmidt’s season mark to 114 and that represents the most for a Diamondbacks hitter since Luis Gonzalez knocked in 114 in 2000.
The next RBI will move Goldschmidt into third place in franchise history for most RBIs in a season. Ahead is Matt Williams, who drove in 142 in 1999 and Gonzalez, also drove in 142 in 2001.
Third baseman Matt Davidson chipped in with his first major league home run in the fifth inning, and was given the silent treatment when the reached the dugout. Eventually, the congratulations started and ended with a hug from Prado.
“The silence was pretty long and seemed that it kept coming,” Davidson smiled. “Yeah, I was able to get the ball and I’ll give it to my parents. I’m not big on memorabilia but I know they’ll care take of it.”
Another “first” for the Diamondbacks Sunday occurred when shortstop Chris Owings drove in his first major league run. Owings, the rookie-of-the-year and MVP of the Pacific Coast League this season, lined a one-out single to center that scored Davidson, who doubled to lead off the eighth inning.
FAREWELL TO A WORTHY OPPONENT
Veteran first baseman Todd Helton will say good-bye to the Colorado Rockies in two weeks.
With that much time remaining in the baseball season, Helton announced he stepping away from the game and retiring. His final game will be Sept. 29 in Los Angeles against the Dodgers and the final contest at Coors Field is Sept. 26 against the Red Sox.
After 17 seasons in the majors and all with the Rockies, Helton told reporters before Sunday’s game with the Diamondbacks in Chase Field, “it’s time to walk.”
“This is a young man’s game and this is the time for me to shut it down,” he said. “I’m excited about the next stage of my life, and no, I’m not sure what I want to do.”
Helton indicated stepping away from the game is his priority, and will make a decision about his future on his terms. He did not discount a future in the game but emphasized he wants time away from the game.
“I’ve been thinking about this for the past few weeks and I guess it’s time I listen to my body,” he said. “The decision was taken with the fans in mind and appreciate the support they gave over my career.”
Helton, a five-time All-Star, leaves the game as the Rockies’ leader in games played, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, runs scored and walks.
“It’s sad, because you don’t want to see him go,” said D-backs manager Kirk Gibson. “When they go, you celebrate their achievements. The fact he spent his entire career with the Rockies says something about his commitment to the organization and their commitment to him.”
Of his 17 seasons in the majors, Helton said his great achievement was participating in the World Series.
Though swept by the Red Sox in 2007, Helton led the Rockies with a .333 average (5-for-15).
Helton sports a career .317 average and with a double in Saturday’s game in Chase Field, moved into 16th place on the all-time doubles list.
MOVING IN FOR THE KILL
Starting Monday night, the Dodgers engage the Diamondbacks in a four game series in Chase Field
Coming into the series, the Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the National League West Division title is four. Any combination of Dodgers wins and Diamondbacks losses totaling four will put the Dodgers in post-season play.
For Monday night, Trevor Cahill (6-10, 4.22 ERA) takes on lefty Hyun-Jim Ryu (13-6, 3.07).
On Tuesday night, it’s Patrick Corbin (14-6, 2.92) opposing Zack Greinke )14-3, 2.74).
Match-up for Wednesday night features Brandon McCarthy (4-9, 4.58) and Clayton Kershaw (14-9, 1.94) and on Thursday afternoon, Wade Miley (10-10, 3.70) takes on righty Ricky Nolasco (13-10, 3.36).