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Zack Godley makes compelling case to be D-backs’ fifth starter

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Godley throws against the Detroit Tigers during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

On the day Shelby Miller underwent Tommy John surgery, the Arizona Diamondbacks continued their search for his replacement as the team’s number-five starter.

Zack Godley, recalled from Triple-A Reno earlier in the day, baffled the Detroit Tigers for seven innings in a 7-1 win Wednesday night at Chase Field.

The 27-year-old right-hander yielded a run in the second inning when James McCann knocked in Justin Upton with a two-out single that gave Detroit a 1-0 advantage. After that, it was pretty clear sailing.

Godley retired the next 13 hitters he faced until he walked Miguel Cabrera to lead off the seventh inning. In all, Godley allowed four hits and one walk while striking out six. He threw only 88 pitches, 57 for strikes, in one of Arizona’s most efficient performances by a starter all season.

As impressive at it was, Godley’s gem was just one start, which doesn’t mean he’s a shoo-in to claim the open spot in the rotation for the forseeable future.

“That’s up to them to decide,” Godley said. “All I can do is keep doing what they ask of me. If they ask me to start, I’ll start. If they ask me to go out of the pen, I’ll do that. If they want to go back down, I’ll do that too. It’s their decision, and I’ll just keep trying to take advantage of the opportunities they give me.”

Godley did draw praise from his manager, Torey Lovullo, in helping the D-backs snap their first three-game losing streak of the season.

“On a night when we needed somebody to step up, Zack Godley did a great job for us. Seven outstanding innings, six strikeouts, one run — what more could you ask for,” Lovullo said. “He kept some very, very dangerous hitters off balance throughout the course of the game, he gave us a chance to play a little bit of catch-up and controlled every inning.”

Godley induced 14 groundball outs from the Tigers by using an array of pitches, but keeping the ball down was key, according to Lovullo.

“The fastball command was at the bottom of the zone, which probably created the number of ground balls,” Lovullo said.

The first-year manager wouldn’t commit to giving Godley the ball for another start in five days, however.

“We have not. We have not, yet,” Lovullo said Thursday prior to the D-backs’ series opener against Pittsburgh when asked if a decision on Godley had been made. “Still discussing that and still working through what will happen in his next turn, but whatever it is, we want to make sure that spot will give us the best chance to win a game.”

The fifth spot in the rotation is due for another start Monday night against the New York Mets in the first of a three-game series at Chase Field.

* ArizonaSports.com’s Derek Montilla contributed to this report

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