In the first 43 starts of his major league career, Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Josh Collmenter had never gone more than eight innings in an outing — a feat he had previously only reached once.
That night, July 18, 2011, Collmenter threw eight shutout innings in a 3-0 blank job of the Milwaukee Brewers.
There must be something about facing a National League Central foe, though, because the 28-year-old outdid himself Thursday night against the visiting Cincinnati Reds.
The fourth-year pro delivered an absolute gem in the D-backs’ 4-0 win over the Reds, facing the minimum 27 batters over nine scoreless innings for his first career complete game.
“That was outstanding,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of Collmenter’s shutout. “He just had great location. He was varying speeds and throwing to both sides of the plate.”
Collmenter became the second D-back to face the minimum, joining Randy Johnson (perfect game on May 18, 2004) and the 13th pitcher in MLB history to do so despite allowing three or more hits since 1914.
“I just wanted to continue to be efficient and get outs,” said Collmenter, who threw 94 pitches on the night. “Especially getting the first guy of the inning out, that was my big focus. I was trying to make good pitches to get that guy out, because it’s a lot tougher for them to rally with a guy already out than it is if they get the first guy on.”
Rallies were not a problem for Collmenter.
Although the Michigan native gave up three base knocks on the evening, he had plenty of defensive support, including a terrific catch and throw by center fielder A.J. Pollock to nail Brayan Pena at third base in the top of the third inning.
In all, Arizona’s defense turned three double plays behind Collmenter.
“When he got guys on, he eliminated them with the double plays,” said Gibson. “Pollo made a good throw on Pena at third base. And Aaron Hill made a couple of very good plays. Overall, it was a very good game for us.”
With the win, Collmenter extended his win streak to a career-high-tying four games and his undefeated streak to seven games.
“The big thing for me has been fastball command,” said Collmenter on his recent success. “I’m not going to blow guys away. If I can place the ball where I want and move the ball in and out and change speeds that is my bread and butter. To be able to do that, repeat it over and over and over, work down in the zone, and not give them pitches that they’ll be able to drive…I’ve just really been focusing on that.
“You see a lot of these teams, and I’ve started a handful of times against each team just about. So, there’s no mystery. It’s just about executing and adjusting the game plan from game-to-game.”
While Collmenter’s masterful performance sent the D-backs home with their second shutout of the season, his spotless outing left the team’s former pitching coach, Bryan Price, searching for answers.
“I’ve seen plenty of Collmenter in the past,” said Price, now the Reds manager. “He has a fastball, changeup and on occasion breaking ball. He elevates the ball well. He took advantage of a low strike zone that both teams were getting from the home plate umpire. And, he took what was there.
“We just didn’t barrel many balls. 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. We 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.”
Following the four-run defeat, the Reds fell to six games below .500 with a 23-29 record. And of their 29 losses, six have come by way of the shutout.