For Max Scherzer, it was about time. The second-year pitcher had pitched well enough to win several games this season, but the Arizona Diamondbacks' anemic offense let him down each time. On Saturday, in a 12-0 laugher against the Atlanta Braves in Hotlanta, Scherzer finally got his first "W," shutting out the Braves in six innings of work. He gave up only four hits, struck out four, and even picked Braves superstar Larry "Chipper" Jones off of first base in the first inning.
It was just the kind of game the D-Backs needed after dropping a real tough one on Friday night, 4-3. In that game, the Diamondbacks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning against a solid pitcher (and former D-Back) in Javier Vazquez, who eventually struck out 10 Arizona hitters.
Diamondbacks starter Doug Davis was pretty darn good (again) in his own right, giving up two earned runs and four hits over six innings. But his own boneheaded throwing error in the second inning cost him a run and allowed the inning to continue and the Braves to plate another run. Later, it appeared as if Davis was pissed when new manager A.J. Hinch yanked him for a pinch-hitter in the seventh. To that point, Davis had thrown an economical 80 pitches and looked as if he had a lot more in him.
Perhaps Davis had a point, but it was a by-the-book maneuver by Hinch, who was just trying to generate some offense in a 3-3 game. Of course, it's difficult to generate offense when your team is populated by a bunch of guys hitting around .210 (or worse). That's what made Saturday's blowout so unusual.
Besides Scherzer, another youngster came up big on Saturday. Rookie center fielder Gerardo Parra, whom Hinch inserted into the number two spot in the lineup, went 3-for-6, drove in three runs, and scored a run. Parra was brought up from the minors after Conor Jackson went on the disabled list last week, and he's been one of the few D-Backs who's regularly providing offense. What's more, he's all but turned Chris Young into the forgotten man. Young's been absolutely dreadful this year at the plate, hitting .177 and providing no pop and no speed. If Parra keeps hitting, Young may find himself back in Triple A when Jackson gets healthy.
A make-up date for Sunday's rain-out has not yet been announced.
The D-Backs head down the coast to Miami for a four-game series against the Florida Marlins, who started the season 11-1 but have really come back to Earth in a big way. They're now 18-20, meaning they've gone 7-19 since their hot start. Not even the D-Backs have been that bad over the past 26 games. With the rain-out, Hinch had some room to shuffle the rotation. Jon Garland was supposed to pitch Sunday; now, he's slated to go Tuesday. Here's how the series matches up:
Today: Dan Haren (3-4, 2.09 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolasco (2-4, 7.78), 4:10 p.m.
Tuesday: Jon Garland (3-2, 5.18) vs. Josh Johnson (3-0, 2.50), 4:10 p.m.
Wednesday: Doug Davis (2-5, 3.22) vs. Chris Volstad (2-3, 3.35), 4:10 p.m.
Thursday: Max Scherzer (1-3, 3.35) vs. Andrew Miller (1-1, 5.94), 4:10 p.m.
TV: FSN-Arizona. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. More info: www.dbacks.com.