PHOENIX -- Needing an out Saturday night in the seventh inning with the tying run on third base and one down, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson elected to bring in rookie southpaw Eury De La Rosa to face Brandon Belt, a lefty, instead of left-handed specialist Joe Thatcher, whom the club traded Ian Kennedy for at the end of July.
It was a move that not only drew light onto the skipper's growing confidence in De La Rosa, but also magnified Thatcher's recent struggles with his new team.
De La Rosa, just 23 years old with 13 big league appearances under his belt, ended up striking out Belt looking on an 88 mph sinker down and away in the zone.
"In that situation right there, he was the guy we were going to go to and he did a hell of a job against Belt," Gibson said. "He's coming on. We watched him a lot when he did it in the winter leagues in the Dominican and we know that he's pretty good in those situations. He's not scared, he's not influenced by the situation, he throws his pitches."
After Saturday's outing, De La Rosa has now allowed just one earned run on four hits over 11 innings in two stints with the D-backs this season.
As for Thatcher, the 31-year-old made a great impression in his first three games with Arizona after the trade, tossing two scoreless innings vs. the Red Sox. Since then, however, 13 of the last 23 batters he has faced have reached base.
"Well, he got tired, No. 1. We kind of gassed him out then we tried to freshen him up and his location; he hasn't been able to locate the ball where he wants to locate it," Gibson said. "He's kind of been in a bad stretch right here, but I go out every day when those guys are throwing and I saw a lot more life in his arm, so I know he feels better. He's coming back, he'll be fine."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less