ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Zach Davies giving D-backs what they need in rotation, throws gem vs. Orioles

Sep 1, 2023, 11:06 PM

Zach Davies...

Zach Davies (Arizona Sports Photo/Jeremy Schnell)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Jeremy Schnell)

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo’s first words describing Friday’s 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Chase Field was that it was all about Zach Davies.

The veteran starting pitcher gave Arizona (70-65) six innings with one earned run and six strikeouts in his second start off the injured list (lower back).

An Orioles (83-51) team that scored 23 runs in three games against the Chicago White Sox earlier this week was held to two singles over Davies’ final five innings.

The one run he allowed came in the first inning on a single up the middle by Ryan O’Hearn.

Arizona responded quickly, as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. blasted a two-run shot in the bottom half to take the lead, giving the D-backs their first multi-run first inning in nearly two weeks. Lovullo called it a statement.

Christian Walker padded the lead with a two-run blast in the sixth inning to go up 4-1. It was his first career homer against Baltimore, the club that designated him for assignment in 2017, which ultimately led to Arizona picking him up.

Arizona’s bullpen did its job from there, allowing one run in three innings with Paul Sewald throwing a scoreless ninth to earn the save.

The D-backs have won 13 out of 19 games despite getting swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers this week. Baltimore entered the series coming off an 18-9 August with a 1.5-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East.

“It’s good to win a game one against the quality team, especially coming off the off day having had a tough time in L.A.,” Lovullo said. “I thought there were a lot of little things that went well today. You look for a different hero each night, I think that’s what a good team does.”

The San Francisco Giants lost on Friday, so they and the D-backs enter Saturday tied for the third wild card spot.

So far, so good for Zach Davies

Davies has thrown 11 innings with two runs allowed since his five-week IL stint in which he received a cortisone shot for his lower back pain.

He had surrendered 16 runs over his previous three starts, culminating in a nine-run outing against the Giants on July 18.

Pitching coach Brent Strom has said he wanted Davies to use his fastball and cutter up and in to lefties, differentiate speeds and utilize his command to work the ball around the strike zone.

“I cannot, like some of these guys here that they get to throw the ball as hard as they can and have incredible offspeed pitches. So for me, it’s the command, I think that makes up for it for me,” Davies said. “Being able to mix speeds, get guys to get out of their comfort zone when they’re hitting, I think that’s one thing that I’ve always tried to accomplish.”

He got ahead of 15 out of 23 batters with first-pitch strikes on Friday. Lovullo complimented his fastball command, which allowed him to work off it with the changeup that evaded barrels.

The manager pulled his starter at 85 pitches with two lefties coming up in the seventh inning. Davies said he felt strong toward the end of his outing after throwing 86 pitches last weekend.

“He’s 100% healthy, and he worked his butt off to get back here,” Lovullo said. “We had a gassed up bullpen, all the pieces in place, I just felt like we were gonna hand it off and he had done his job.

“Maybe the next time it’s a different situation and he’s throwing the ball that well, I might (leave him in), but I just wanted to get him off the field with a full workload. I know he’s been working hard for that type of outing.”

Gunnar Henderson throws out Corbin Carroll

A standout rookie shortstop made a perfect toss from the outfield to throw out D-backs speedster Corbin Carroll at home plate.

It happened Sunday with Cincinnati Reds infielder Elly De La Cruz and again on Friday.

Nick Ahmed hit a pop fly to left field that shortstop and AL Rookie of the Year contender Gunnar Henderson caught over his shoulder. Carroll tagged up from third after he singled, and Henderson nailed him with a two-hopper that led catcher Adley Rutschman right into the tag.

“It was a tremendous catch, stop, realign and throw a dart right on the money to home plate,” Lovullo said. “I think nine times out of 10 Corbin scores on that play. So I have no problem with that.”

Carroll’s shoulder

During Friday’s game, Carroll spoke with the training staff in the dugout after what Lovullo called an uncomfortable swing.

He stayed in the game, doubled in his next at-bat and will be fine for Saturday, Lovullo explained.

“Every once in a while he gets a little stinger, gets a little feeling in there that might scare him or there’s a little discomfort, and then he checks out strength-wise,” Lovullo said. “He’s fine. Everything’s good.”

Revenge game?

Both Walker and Davies were Orioles draft picks who were let go, with Davies getting traded in 2015 for Gerardo Parra.

Davies said there was no revenge game given that he’s been with five organizations at this point.

Walker said he didn’t have any emotional feeling toward playing the Orioles, who Arizona had not seen since 2019. “Anytime I get a chance to play against a former team, it means still playing in the big leagues, so that’s always a good thing,” Walker joked.

Slade’s Saturday

Slade Cecconi will get the ball on Saturday in his fourth MLB start. Cecconi is coming off 5.2 innings of one-run ball on Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds.

Kyle Bradish will pitch for the Orioles. He has a 3.03 ERA in 24 starts.

First pitch is at 5:10 p.m. on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com. 

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Zach Davies giving D-backs what they need in rotation, throws gem vs. Orioles