PHOENIX – The road-wearied Arizona Diamondbacks arrived at Chase Field Friday hoping to reap some advantage from familiarity in an effort to snap the six-game losing streak they carried from Washington.
Back at their own lockers after a night in their own beds, their heads on their own pillows, the D-backs prepared to take the field against a San Diego Padres that was beginning the final leg of their own 10-game road trip.
“We had (the 2-8 road trip) out of our mind when we got home last night,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “It was a long trip and what happened in the games adds more to it. But you come in here and it feels like home. They sit in their locker and, you know, they’re comfortable. They’re in their training room. They’re at their batting cage. They take their field. You know, I sit at my desk. It’s a very nice office. And here at Chase Field, it makes you very comfortable.
“We were beyond the road trip when we got here today.”
The return to normalcy was seen immediately against Padres starter Odrisamer Despaigne, as a two-out triple by David Peralta in the bottom half of the first frame sparked a three-run frame for the D-backs, following their starter’s 1-2-3 inning just prior. Mark Trumbo plated Peralta with a single through the 5-6 hole and Miguel Montero’s home run off the right field foul pole a batter later gave the starter a 3-0 cushion by the team he faced the Padres’ cleanup man.
And it was that starter, Josh Collmenter, who ended up being the real story in the series opener, though the D-backs added runs in the second and the eighth, which were ultimately enough to reward and secure their pitcher’s effort with a 5-1 win.
Having skipped his regularly-scheduled mid-week bullpen session, Collmenter’s arm was noticeably livelier, his ability to locate his pitches seemingly sharper.
“Just (gave) the arm a little break — I’ve been going at it for quite a while now,” he said after the game. “August is usually the time, if you’re going to get fatigued, that you start feeling it, so I think it was just good to rest and just be 100 percent going into today.”
He set down the first seven he saw and faced one more than the minimum through eight innings, putting him in position to toss a shutout as he climbed the hill in the ninth.
The Padres had managed just two hits against Collmenter by the time they took their final at-bat. But Alexi Amarista, who led things off for San Diego in the final frame, coaxed a ball up the middle and into the center field grass to kickstart the campaign to get Collmenter out of the game. An out later, Yangervis Solarte added to that effort with another single to center.
With two men on and one out, Gibson strode out of the third base dugout and toward Collmenter, motioning to the bullpen for the entrance of the warming Matt Stites.
The home crowd booed.
“As much as I wanted to push him, it was not the right thing to do,” Gibson said after the game of his decision to pull Collmenter, whose final line included eight strikeouts, matching a career-high.
Stites got a ground out, but a passed ball with two away in the ninth helped the Padres get on the board, with Amarista scoring the run. Left fielder Abraham Almonte flew out to end the game three pitches later.
Collmenter improved to 9-7 with the win.
Montero’s two-run homer in the first was his 13th of the year. With it came RBI No. 64 and 65, putting him on pace to surpass 80 this season, should he catch 25 or more of the team’s final 33 games.
The catcher’s uptick is a welcome sight, following a measly 11-homer, 42-RBI season in 2013. Montero’s batting average, too, following a 2-for-3 night at the plate, is up to .260 — 30 points higher than last season’s .230.
Center fielder Ender Inciarte and second baseman Cliff Pennington combined to go 0-for-8 in the first two spots of Gibson’s batting order Friday.
• Ender Inciarte swiped his 10th base of the season Friday, taking second base in the second inning.
• Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko committed his errors No. 9 and 10 of the season Friday, with the first one resulting in a run.
• Of the 12 outs collectively recorded by the two teams in the second and third innings, eight were flyouts to center field, with Inciarte recording five of the D-backs’ six outs in the two frames.
The D-backs will look to carry Friday’s momentum into the second game of the series as Vidal Nuño takes the hill in search of his first National League win. He may have a tough go, as the Padres will send right-hander Andrew Cashner to the mound.
Nuño, though pitching to a respectable 3.72 ERA in eight starts for Arizona, has failed to record a win since being traded from the New York Yankees last month, instead taking three losses and five no-decisions.
And Cashner, while pitching better overall, has had similar win-loss struggles, going 2-6 in 12 starts for the Padres though tapering his ERA down to a rotation-best 2.36 over the course of a DL-stunted season.
First pitch as at 5:10 p.m. and can be heard on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM along with pregame coverage, which begins half an hour earlier.