De La Rosa dazzles as D-backs sweep Giants
Maybe it was pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. Maybe it was slumping San Francisco. Maybe it was tacit expectation to pass the baton after two remarkable starts by Chase Anderson and Allen Webster.
Whatever it was, the Rubby De La Rosa who pitched eight-plus scoreless innings Sunday was the De La Rosa the Diamondbacks hoped to see, the one that they acquired with the plan to see if a season-long look at his mid-90 mph fastball and his complementary changeup would translate into success with regular work.
After the two least effective starts of his career, right-hander De la Rosa had one of his best, capping the D-backs' most dominant pitching weekend of the season and polishing off a sweep of the sputtering Giants with a 4-0 victory.
De La Rosa gave up eight hits -- seven singles -- and benefitted from four double plays as the D-backs completed their first sweep at AT&T Park since July 25-27, 2008.
If De La Rosa shook off catcher Welington Castillo at all, it did not happen much. Following the game plan set up by pitching coach Mike Harkey, De La Rosa pounded the strike zone for out after out, throwing first-pitch strikes to 15 of the last 17 batters he faced. He was looking for his first career complete game.
"It was good today," De La Rosa told FOX Sports Arizona's Jody Jackson. "I threw everything he (Castillo) said. I tried to follow him and do my job. I tried to not shake a lot."
The first double play may have been the biggest. After De La Rosa knocked down Brandon Crawford's broken-bat hit in the first inning, the bases were loaded with one out. Two pitches later, De La Rosa was out of the inning when Casey McGehee grounded to shortstop Cliff Pennington to start the double play.
McGehee also grounded into a double play in the fourth inning, and De La Rosa got Nori Aoki to ground into his first double play of the season with runners on first and third to end the fifth after the D-backs had taken a 3-0 lead in the top of the inning on Chris Owings' two-run double over center fielder Justin Maxwell's head.
"I feel good about that," De La Rosa said. "The double plays make it easy for the team. Everything was working down -- my fastball, my sinker, my changeup."
He gave up 16 runs in his last two starts, seven in a in a game the D-backs rallied to win against Atlanta on June 3 and nine in a 9-3 loss to the Dodgers on the first game of the current trip, which ends with a two-game series back in Los Angeles against the Angels.
Not only did following Castillo work well in getting double plays, De La Rosa also had six more strikeouts to extend his season total to 77, his career high. He has pitched 82 innings this season. He had 74 strikeouts in 101 2/3 innings for Boston last year.
De La Rosa held his velocity well. He struck out the final batter of the seventh inning with a 96 mph fastball and struck out the first two in the eighth with fastballs clocked at 96 and 95.
Jake Lamb had two hits and a walk and appears to be regaining the form he showed before he went down with a stress reaction in his left foot. His two hits were line drives, a double into the right-field corner in the second inning and a single to center in the fourth. The Giants walked him with runners on second and third and one out in the fifth.
0.87 -- ERA by D-backs' starters in the three-game sweep at AT&T Park.
* Daniel Hudson, who replaced De La Rosa with runners on first and second and no outs in the ninth inning, recorded his first career save by getting a strikeout, a walk and a game-ending double play by pinch hitter Buster Posey. Hudson hit 97 mph on a fastball to strike out Brandon Crawford, and his performance lent credence to the theory he might best be suited as a closer after two Tommy John surgeries.
* With a two-walk, two-single day, Paul Goldschmidt extended his on-base streak to 24 consecutive games. Goldschmidt his hitting .427 with seven homers, 18 RBI and 27 walks. Those walks have helped him to a .569 on-base percentage in that run.
* The D-backs will use a designated hitter for the first time this season in a two-game series against the Angels that begins Monday. The D-backs are scheduled to face right-handers Jered Weaver and Garrett Richards, which could mean left-handed bats David Peralta and Jake Lamb are in the lineup and Yasmany Tomas or Aaron Hill is the DH.
* Patrick Corbin gave up two runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings in a rehab start for Double-A Mobile on Sunday, his second of what could be four or five rehab appearances before he rejoins the D-backs. He struck out three and did not walk a batter. The only damage was a two-run homer by Jackson DH Dario Pizzano in the fourth. Corbin was removed after 76 pitches.
The Diamondbacks wasted no time signing their high draft picks. Right-hander Tyler Clarke, their third round pick from the College of Charleston, agreed to a $801,900 bonus, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis. Fourth-round right-hander Breckin Williams of Missouri signed for $538,200 and fifth-found right-hander Ryan Burr of Arizona State signed for $403,000. All those bonuses are exactly what the major league slotting system assigned. Ninth-rounder Pierce Romero, a right-hander from Santa Barbara City College, signed for $295,000, about $130,000 over slot. The D-backs will have to make up that difference by signing another of their picks for under slot value, inasmuch as teams are penalized if they overspend on their first 10 picks. The D-backs have $12,816,000 to spend on their first 10 picks and the bonus slot for No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson is $8,616,900.