De La Rosa pitches gem by sticking to plan
D-backs starter takes shutout into ninth inning, helped by double plays
SAN FRANCISCO -- The D-backs wanted right-hander Rubby De La Rosa to do less thinking Sunday in his start against the Giants and just focus on throwing what catcher Welington Castillo called. A "no shaking day," manager Chip Hale termed it.
De La Rosa followed the script, and it resulted in his best outing since being acquired last December as the D-backs beat the Giants, 4-0, to sweep the three-game series.
De La Rosa (5-3) almost had the first complete game of his career, but departed after allowing back-to-back hits to open the ninth.
"He pitched like he can," Hale said. "We've seen this; we've seen he's got this kind of stuff, and he put it together today."
The outing was in stark contrast to the way the previous two starts had gone for De La Rosa. In those two, he allowed 16 earned runs in 10 innings.
Hale said the reason for the struggles was that De La Rosa was shaking off the catcher too much and getting frustrated too easily on the mound. That led to a sitdown before Sunday's start between De La Rosa, Castillo, pitching coach Mike Harkey and bullpen coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.
"We talked about it before the game. Mike and Stott and Welington sat down [and] they looked at the video and talked to him about what to throw in certain situations, and he stuck with what Welington called," Hale said. "I just think he sometimes thinks too much. Sometimes we just want to make it more simple for him and let the catcher control the game more."
De La Rosa only shook off Castillo once during the game.
"Today was great," he said. "The rhythm was good. I just tried to throw right at the target. That helped me a lot."
De La Rosa was also aided by the play of his defense, which turned four double plays behind him and five in the game.
A double play in the first inning helped De La Rosa get out of a bases-loaded jam and set the tone for the game.
"His sinker was really good down in the zone and that was why he got a lot of ground-ball double plays today," Castillo said.
Hale wanted to see De La Rosa get the complete game, but after Joe Panik doubled to lead off the ninth and Brandon Belt followed with a single to put runners at first and third, the manager went to Daniel Hudson.
After striking out Brandon Crawford, Hudson walked Casey McGehee to load the bases and the Giants sent up Buster Posey to pinch-hit.
"It's scary," Hale said of what he thought when Posey came up. "I'm not going to lie. He's one of the greats in the game right now and he always has a flair for the dramatic. So you're just thinking, 'Keep the ball down, get the ball on the ground and we've got a shot.' But if you get one up to him, it could be a tie game real quick."
Hudson kept the ball down and got Posey to ground into a double play to end the game.