D-backs fall, but Scherzer dominant
Rookie's performance may get him elevated to rotation
PHOENIX -- Even when the D-backs lose these days it seems good things happen.
Sure, they dropped a 6-4 decision to the Astros on Tuesday night at Chase Field, but they may have found a new member of the rotation in the process.
Rookie Max Scherzer made his big league debut in relief of Edgar Gonzalez and wowed the crowd of 20,241 by retiring all 13 batters he faced.
"That was quite a debut," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said.
And it may be one that lands Scherzer a full-time starting role, but Melvin was not ready to go there so soon after the loss.
"It's just after the game," Melvin said. "We'll take a look at it later."
It sure seems like an easy decision, though, as Gonzalez labored through 2 2/3 innings while the crowd seemed more intent on following Game 5 of the NBA Suns game against the Spurs than what was happening on the field. Gonzalez, whose ERA is now 6.55, allowed a pair of first-inning runs on an RBI double by Miguel Tejada and a run-scoring single by Carlos Lee.
The Arizona offense, though, got Gonzalez back to even when Conor Jackson smoked a two-run homer in the bottom of the first.
Gonzalez, though, couldn't keep the Astros in check, as he allowed four runs in the third while getting just two outs. The big blow of the inning came when Geoff Blum hit a three-run double down the left-field line.
"It just seemed like not real crisp with the breaking ball, the fastball was up a little bit," Melvin said. "He had a hard time keeping the ball down and throwing strikes. They got on him early and just never let up. It wasn't Edgar's best day."
Melvin then went to Scherzer, who got the crowd's attention when his fastball routinely hit 96 and got all the way up to 98 mph.
"I think the deception with him is that there seems to be no effort in the delivery and then the ball is on you," pitching coach Bryan Price said.
While Scherzer was dominating the Houston hitters, the D-backs were chipping away at the lead.
Jackson drove in his third run of the game when he grounded out to score Orlando Hudson in the fourth, and pinch-hitter Miguel Montero pulled Arizona to within 6-4 with a pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh.
The D-backs, though, couldn't quite get over the hump as they watched former closer Jose Valverde, who was dealt to Houston over the winter, shut them down in the ninth.
"Valverde, he had some pretty good stuff today, too, I mean 97s and 98s ... we didn't see that a whole lot last year," Melvin said. "The ball was cutting a little bit. Threw the one split to [Jeff Salazar], and I think everything else was fastballs, so he had good stuff tonight."
So did Scherzer, who struck out seven. A perfect debut, right, Max?
"Nothing's perfect," he said. "There are still things I can get better at. I still thought I could work on fastball command. I did have at times good command tonight, but there were times I missed my spot. I can always go back and work on doing something better."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.