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Collmenter steps up in big way for Diamondbacks

It was an important start for Josh Collmenter.

The D-backs rookie, pitching for his job (at least, in the
eyes of some), had
given up 11 runs over his previous two starts, throwing a
total of six
innings.

Wednesday night he went seven, and wow did the
Diamondbacks need every one of them in their 6-3 win over the Houston Astros.

“Our bullpen was beat up bad from the previous games and
he gave us
seven strong innings,” D-backs Manager Kirk Gibson said,
“kind of allowed
us to get our bullpen in better condition for the future.”

While Gibson said Collmenter’s job was secure, the right-
hander knew this
was an important start.

“It was big for me,” Collmenter said, noting how it helps
his confidence a
little bit, “but just to get back on track and give our
team a good start and
kind of give us some momentum.”

Mission accomplished in a game the D-backs never trailed
in, due to
Collmenter’s mastery of the Astros as well as a leadoff
homer by Willie
Bloomquist.

And that makes for a nice — if not somewhat humorous —
sidebar to the
2011 Arizona Diamondbacks. While known stars like Justin
Upton are
producing (the right fielder had three more hits
Wednesday), it’s lesser-
known players who have stepped up at just the right times.

They, just like everyone else on the team, know what is at
stake these days.

“Especially with the Giants losing today and reeling as of
late, we needed to
take advantage of that so I wanted to make sure that I
went out and took
care of business and got myself on track and hopefully set
up the team as
we continue forward,” Collmenter added.

However, while the Diamondbacks will go to sleep Wednesday
night in sole
possession of first place in the NL West, they’re not
exactly breaking out
the bubbly.

Their lead is just one game, though you won’t find
counting down a magic number just yet.

“It’s obviously nice to be in a position where we’re in a
race here, but we’re
not going to get too excited about being in first place
right now,” Willie
Bloomquist said. “Talk to me in late September, then we’ll
start getting
excited.”

But the Diamondbacks will most certainly take it.

Collmenter’s Curve

Josh Collmenter has found some success at the Major League
level, but it
really has had nothing to do with his curveball — until
Wednesday.

The right-hander threw “probably more than I have all
season” in a win
over the Astros, hitting his spots and keeping Houston’s
hitters off
balance, especially early in the count.

“A lot of times they’re looking fastball/changeup and they
haven’t seen the
curveball or aren’t looking for it, and a lot of times it
will surprise them,
maybe they’ll take a bad swing or it will lock them up and
you can get
ahead in the count,” the pitcher said. “Now it’s just
getting to the point
where I have to have the confidence to throw it and then
trust that it’s
going to do something and be an effective pitch.”

It was on this night, and Collmenter’s success with the
pitch is something
his manager noticed.

“That’s not what they’re expecting,” Gibson said of the
curve. “So it gives
him a strike, gives him a different look and gets them off
just his fastball
and his changeup.”


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