Collmenter faces minimum in three-hit shutout
Becomes 13th since 1914 to face 27 hitters while allowing at least 3 hits
PHOENIX -- Efficiency was the name of the game for Josh Collmenter on Thursday night.
The right-hander faced the minimum 27 batters in his first complete game and first shutout, leading the way for the D-backs in their 4-0 victory over the Reds at Chase Field.
Collmenter became the first D-backs pitcher to face the minimum number of batters since Randy Johnson pitched a perfect game on May 18, 2004. His outing was the 13th time a pitcher has faced the minimum while giving up three or more hits during a nine-inning game in Major League history.
"That was outstanding," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He had great location, varying his speeds, throwing both sides of the plate and when he got guys on he eliminated them through double plays.
"That would be pretty hard to top."
Collmenter dominated the Reds in the series opener. He gave up three hits, and each time the D-backs turned a double play. When Skip Schumaker grounded out to end the game, Collmenter had thrown only 94 pitches.
The top halves of innings zipped by with Collmenter on the mound. His longest inning lasted only 16 pitches. His shortest lasted six.
"He took what was there, and we didn't barrel many balls," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "That's, in part, a credit to him and in part kind of a testament that we haven't been swinging the bats very well -- not just recently, but for the bulk of the year. You have to be the ones to make the adjustment. He threw a nice ballgame, but we're better than 27 guys batting in nine innings. That's beyond unacceptable."
The key to Collmenter's success wasn't that he was particularly dominant -- he struck out only five batters -- but in his command. He didn't walk a single hitter, pitching to contact and letting the Reds' batters hit into 11 ground outs and seven fly outs.
"I think he made quality strikes and got contact, got bad contact," D-backs catcher Tuffy Gosewisch said. "They hit a few balls hard, and we played great defense, turned a double play here or there. He was very efficient with fastball location and was able to miss the barrel a lot tonight."
The defense behind Collmenter made several crucial plays to keep him at the minimum.
The D-backs led 1-0 going to the third inning, but Reds first baseman Brayan Pena put that lead in jeopardy. He led off the inning with a line-drive double, but when he tried to tag up and take third on a flyout from shortstop Zack Cosart, center fielder A.J. Pollock made a strong throw, beating Pena to third by several feet.
"[Right fielder Gerardo Parra] was telling me that he was tagging, and I just kind of figured I'd let it rip and see what happens," Pollock said.
Aaron Hill was the next player to step up with a standout play. He dove to his right to snag a sharp grounder from Reds third baseman Todd Frazier, throwing him out at first and denying the Reds a runner on base.
"The defense was great," Collmenter said. "Hilly made a couple of really great plays; I was able to get some timely balls on the ground when I needed a double play, and Pollock throwing the guy out. Every play I could ever ask them to make they made."
Added Pollock: "I think everyone kind of fed off [Collmenter]."
Hill and Pollock didn't just make key plays in the field; they also had a hand in three of the four runs the D-backs scored.
Pollock, who is 8-for-16 over his last four games, led off the first inning with a double, scoring one batter later when he stole his team-leading seventh base and scored on a throwing error by Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco.
Hill added runs in the fourth and sixth innings, respectively. He launched a line-drive home run to left to give the D-backs a two-run lead, then singled to score Martin Prado, who later drove in the game's final run with an RBI single in the seventh.
The win moved the D-backs to 10 games under .500 -- a mark they haven't reached since May 13.
"Pitching is contagious and that's what we want to get going here -- one guy takes the ball and gives us a good start and then you hand it onto the next guy and the next guy," Collmenter said. "We've kind of gotten a better roll, and it's nice to be playing better at home."