Diamondbacks’ Brandon Pfaadt dominates with sweeper in win over Reds

May 15, 2024, 4:52 PM

Brandon Pfaadt...

Brandon Pfaadt of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitching against the Cincinnati Reds at Chase Field. (Arizona Sports Photo/Felisa Cardenas)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Felisa Cardenas)

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks starter Brandon Pfaadt was on a roll, showing “no-hit stuff” in a gem outing Wednesday against the Cincinnati Reds.

Pfaadt’s first hit allowed came with two outs in the fifth inning, and his seven innings with one earned run helped push the D-backs past the Reds in a 2-1 pitcher’s duel.

Arizona (21-23) won the series and five out of six games against Cincinnati (18-25) over the past nine days. A Lourdes Gurriel Jr. RBI double in the eighth inning was the difference in the D-backs’ shortest game of the season at one hour and 59 minutes.

“I feel good, the stuff feels good,” Pfaadt said. “Each and every gameplan has felt on point. It’s just a matter of execution at this point and seeing where it takes us.”

Brandon Pfaadt rolling

Pfaadt struck out five of the first eight hitters he faced, making up for the zero punch outs in his last start in Baltimore. He finished the day with nine strikeouts, five of which were looking, as he came two shy of his career high.

The key; pushing the sweeper/slider button until it breaks, using both backdoor and back foot to lefties.

“Our game plan was to use more sliders, I certainly did and it was super effective,” Pfaadt said. “So I think moving forward, that’s probably going to be our game plan and pitch off the slider a little bit more. … Backdoor, back foot and that’s kind of what I mean by moving around the plate and showing them a little something that opens up those other pitches.”

Pfaadt largely abandoned the curveball and threw more sweepers (33) than four-seam fastballs (31) to keep a shorthanded Reds lineup off-balanced.

“Gonna say his tunneling and ability to attack the zone, he’s always in the zone and he can evacuate the zone at the right time,” Lovullo said. “The ball is getting to home plate and just splitting in three different ways whether it’s a sweeper, a four- or two-seamer sometimes changeup. … That is what every pitcher tries to get to.”

Reds shortstop Santiago Espinal ended the no-hit bid with a solo shot to tie the game on a 2-2 count in the fifth inning.

Pfaadt exited with 92 pitches in a 1-1 ballgame, having allowed only one more hit after Espinal. Lovullo said if the score was 6-1, he may have left him in for the eighth for his longest career start. But with a gassed-up bullpen, Lovullo called on Ryan Thompson for a clean inning with closer Paul Sewald behind him.

D-backs assistant general manager Mike Fitzgerald told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Wednesday that Pfaadt’s peripherals have significantly improved, and he has been two or three pitches away from some scoreless games through the season.

The 24-year-old has continued to build off his successes in the back half of 2023 with five quality starts out of his last six outings to help a bruised rotation continued to push ahead.

Diamondbacks in the clutch

Reds southpaw starter Andrew Abbott matched Pfaadt’s seven one-run innings, but the Reds bullpen cracked where Arizona’s did not.

Reliever Fernando Cruz, who made his fourth appearance against the D-backs, got two quick outs in the eighth before Lovullo called Pavin Smith’s name off the bench. Lovullo had Corbin Carroll and Joc Pederson as other left-handed options, but Smith came up with a double to right.

“I was trying to give Corbin a flush day to get him off his feet,” Lovullo said. “Pavin can hit and I liked the matchup in that situation. I was saving Joc down for the designated hitter spot. I didn’t want to hit Joc and have him come off field.”

Carroll pinch ran, and Gurriel snapped a three-game hitless streak with an RBI double to right just beyond the reach of diving outfielder Jake Fraley.

Sewald picked up his first home save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth.

What is the shortest game at Chase Field?

Wednesday’s matchup was the fifth shortest nine-inning Diamondbacks home game by time to date. The shortest was one hour and 52 minutes on May 31, 2008. Brandon Webb threw a shutout against the Nationals that day.

When do the Diamondbacks play next?

The D-backs get Thursday off and host the Detroit Tigers for three games starting Friday at Chase Field.

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