HOUSTON -- After Monday's 9-1 win at Houston, Arizona pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. was encouraged about the D-backs' bullpen, which entered the series with an ERA over 6.00.
D-backs relievers did not allow a run in four innings in preserving the win for Cesar Valdez on Monday, who was making his big league debut. The trio of Esmerling Vasquez (2 innings), Aaron Heilman (1 inning) and Blaine Boyer (1 inning) did not walk a batter and gave up only three singles.
"For the first time, I saw signs of our guys getting out of their rut they've been in," said Stottlemyre. "We were good the first week [of the season]. We were pounding the zone, and the guys got away from attacking the zone and getting ahead of the hitters, and that carried over from game to game.
"It comes down to getting ahead and pounding the zone. Last night was the first time we've gotten back to that."
Stottlemyre said it's about simplifying things, getting strikes, and from there you have options.
Stottlemyre and Arizona manager A.J. Hinch are both impressed with Vasquez, who entered Tuesday with a 3.12 ERA in 8 2/3 innings.
"He's a guy that has electric stuff," said Stottlemyre. "But if he throws it 100 mph, he's not going to throw it by anybody if it's not in the zone."
Added Hinch: "He has swing-and-miss stuff in the strike zone."