The Arizona organization waited over three weeks for this, but finally, Yasmany Tomas paid some dividends.
Laboring under the microscope of a $68.5 million contract, national criticism and lack of production, Tomas was vilified as a major mistake.
Still, the organization stood by their sizable investment, and urged patience and perseverance.
Weeks of frustration and uncertainly seem to evaporate in a moment on Wednesday night because Tomas delivered at a most critical moment.
After picking up his first, major league RBI on Tuesday night, Tomas seemed to save the most dramatic for a critical at-bat on Wednesday.
Waiting, hoping and hanging for Tomas to show some justification for the large investment, manager Chip Hale continues to heap praise on Tomas where none could be found. Yet on Wednesday, Tomas delivered the key hit an eventual, 9-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies before 19,633 in Chase Field.
With the Diamondbacks clinging to a 2-1 lead in the fifth, Tomas came up with the bases loaded and two out. Having grounded into double plays in each of his two previous time at the plate, the Rockies decided to take their chances with the 24-year-old Cuban defector.
To get to Tomas, Rockies’ starter Jordan Lyles pitched around David Peralta, who walked to load the bases. That brought Tomas up in clearly the most important time at the plate in his fledging Arizona career.
Promptly, Tomas hit a sharp single between first and scored and that scored Ender Inciarte and Paul Goldschmidt, both of whom walked. Jordan Pacheco then followed with a three-run home into the left field stands, but Tomas delivered the most important hit of the game.
“(Tomas) is getting better in all phases of the game,” said manager Chip Hale afterward. “Good at-bat there, and we felt he could deliver in that situation.”
Tomas did not stop in the fifth inning.
Coming up in the seventh, he knocked in his third run of the game with a two-out single down the right-field line to score Peralta, who reached second with a two-out double.
If Tomas delivered the most important hit of the game, starter Josh Collmenter complemented the Cuban’s bat, and turned in another solid effort.
After a shaky beginning and allowing a first-inning, unearned run, Collmenter settled down and, at one point, retired 13 straight hitters. From the second inning until he was lifted after eighth, Collmenter allowed only three base runners, a single to catcher Nick Hundley leading off the second, and a one-out double to Cory Dickerson and single to Troy Tulowitzki in the sixth.
For his effort Collmenter went eight strong innings, surrendered five hits and allowed that one, unearned run. His record now reaches 2-3 and his ERA dropped from 3.65 at the start of the game to his present 2.76.
In preaching control and command of both sides of the plate, Collmenter demonstrated the importance of understanding the strike zone. In the first inning alone, Collmenter delivered all strikes on his first 10 pitches, and hit the strike zone on 12 of his first 13 pitches.
Through his early starts this season, Collmenter continually tells reporters that fast ball command is the key to his success. To complement that goal, Collmenter also demonstrated a penchant for throwing first pitch strikes, and said after his win Wednesday night that an effective curve and change aided his effectiveness.
“I had good fast command, and kept the ball up and down, in and out,” he said. “(Colorado) is a very aggressive team with the bat, and you need to keep them off-balance. As a pitcher, you need to move the ball around, and I was able to do that.”
The win was important in several ways.
First, this was likely Tomas’ wake-up call in the majors and also, the Diamondbacks took two-of-three from Colorado to capture the series.
After swept by the Pirates last weekend, Arizona showed resiliency in bouncing back to take the latest series from the Rockies.
“We talked about getting good at-bats, and better pitches to hit,” Hale said. “The guys are grinding and doing a good job.”
That makes 21 runs in the last two games and a modest two-game winning streak.
“We’re playing up to our capabilities,” said Goldschmidt, who chipped in with a 3-for-4 night, two runs scored and a RBI. “I thought we swung the bats good in the Pirates series, and knew we would come out of it. That’s just how this game goes.”
REACHING A MILESTONE
When Aaron Hill came up in the eighth to pinch hit for starter Josh Collmenter, that marked his 1,300 appearance in a major league game.
That includes 875 games with Toronto in the American League. By the way, Hill singled and scored in that frame.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN …
The Diamondbacks now hit the road for a six-game trip.
First stop is Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and three with the Dodgers.
On Friday night, righty Rubby De La Rosa (2-1, 4.68) ERA) opens the set against righty Scott Baker (0-1, 3.86 ERA). On Saturday, it’s Jeremy Hellickson (1-3, 5.24) opposing lefty Brett Anderson (1-1, 5.49).
For the Sunday finale, Chase Anderson (0-1, 4.24) draws defending Cy Young Award winner and National League MVP Clayton Kershaw (1-2, 3.73) as his mound opponent.
Lifetime against Kershaw, Paul Goldschmidt is hitting .250 (9-for-36, two home runs, two RBIs), Aaron Hill is batting .240 (6-for-25), Chris Owings owns a .143 batting average (2-for-14), A. J. Pollock is hitting .280 (7-for-25), and Mark Trumbo is batting .150 (3-for-20).
Then, it’s on to Denver for three with the Rockies before returning home to face San Diego and Washington during a six-game home stand.
After a day-off Thursday, the Diamondbacks then have only two days off between May 1 and June 10. Those dates are May 14 and May 28. Also, between May 15 and May 31, the Diamondbacks play 13 of 16 games, in this stretch, on the road.