D-backs sweep as rookie tosses 6 hitless frames

After Young departs, Rockies break up no-hit bid in seventh

July 8th, 2019

PHOENIX -- Six innings into a no-hitter in his first start at Chase Field, Alex Young lobbied his manager to stay in the game.

It wasn’t going to happen, as much as it pained D-backs manager Torey Lovullo to take out the rookie left-hander Sunday afternoon. A 5-3 victory and a three-game sweep of the Rockies helped take the sting out of the decision for both pitcher and skipper.

“It was frustrating just because I wanted to go back out there,” Young said, “but it was more of the game situation where it was a 1-0 game and it was matchups and pitch count, which is what it came down to.

“I want to do what’s best for the team. And that’s what Torey thought, and I agreed with it.”

As the new guy in the clubhouse -- Young was brought up from Triple-A Reno on June 27 -- he couldn’t do much convincing, anyway, even though Lovullo said it ranked as one of the toughest decisions he’s had to make as a manager.

“I have no real leverage,” Young said.

But Young did get run support. The D-backs plated four runs in the sixth inning, highlighted by Nick Ahmed’s two-run home run and Christian Walker’s two-run single, to give Young a 5-0 lead when his day was done at 71 pitches.

In his second big league start and third appearance, Young struck out three before giving way to reliever in the seventh inning. The first batter to face Hirano, Trevor Story, broke up the no-hit bit with an infield single.

As Hirano warmed up after coming in from the bullpen, the D-backs and Lovullo heard some boos from the stands.

“What can you say about Alex Young? The manager’s a total dope and has to take him out of the game for a variety of reasons. Who does that?” Lovullo said with sarcasm. “But it was the right move for him because he’s never been beyond that.

“There was no way he was going to get three more innings out of his pitch count, for his health,” Lovullo added. “And, to me, there is nothing more important than the good health of our young players.”

The Diamondbacks swept the Rockies in a three-game series at home for the first time since September 12-14, 2016.

Young’s six no-hit innings matched the longest to open a game by a D-backs pitcher this season -- All-Star did it on June 13 against the Nationals. It was the 18th time a D-backs pitcher threw at least six hitless innings to start a game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“Sometimes, I have to be the parent in the room,” Lovullo said, admitting that he got a little caught up in the moment and asked his pitching coach, Mike Butcher, if he was certain that Young couldn’t go any further. “It’s excruciating. And then when the people in back of me are screaming things at me for three innings, it makes it even more painful. I’m very aware of it, but it’s part of the game.”

Late movement on his pitches and the fact that the Rockies didn’t have a complete book on a pitcher with only two previous big league appearances helped Young’s cause.

“I was happy with pitch selection, everything,” Young said. “It’s just mixing up pitches, throwing pitches where I need to. Hitting my spots. That was honestly the biggest thing, just attacking the zone, and that’s what I did the whole time.”

The D-backs have three starting pitchers currently on the 10-day injured list, with Jon Duplantier and Taylor Clarke throwing as part of their rehab programs. So a decision with the 25-year-old Young looms.

Lovullo talked as though Young is in line for at least another start after the All-Star break.

“My vote,” Lovullo said “is to give him the baseball the next time. … That’s going to be crystal clear when I’m speaking to the people I need to speak to about it.”