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Two Keys To Victory: Enright's Change-up, Working The Count On Jimenez

Enright's change-up

Going into tonight's start, Barry Enright had only thrown his change-up 11 times according to the pitch stats at Texas Leaguers.com. 72.7 percent of those were strikes however, which made it his most effective pitch despite being used so infrequently.

Of course those stats are a small sample size so I didn't give it too much thought going into the game but noticed that he kept using it tonight and once again it was working for him.

I asked Barry about his change-up which he said he threw about 10 times tonight despite not using it at all in his last start.

"I threw some decent one's tonight which keeps them off my fastball and keeps them off my off-speed pitches," he said. "It just makes everything kind of better. I haven't been sharp with all my off-speed pitches in my last few outings so throwing the change-up tonight kind of helped that."

And why aren't you throwing it more if it's so effective both on it's own and in setting up the other pitches?

"I kind of always had a pretty good one in college but coming here I don't know if it's the change in balls, the seams or whatever, I kind of lost it throughout the minor leagues a little bit. Coming up here you're going to have to have something that's a little bit softer," Enright explained.

If he can continue to use that change effectively he's only going to continue to improve ... or in this case stay consistent.

Enright is the only active pitcher in the majors to go five-plus innings and give up three runs or less in his first ten starts. He said he's aware of that but is trying not to think about it.

Asked how he feels about not getting much national recognition he responded with a combination of humility and practicality, "I'm just trying to keep under the radar. It's not always good to get a lot of attention."

Kirk Gibson talked about Enright's ability to continue to pitch effectively despite not having his stuff, "When we sent him out there for the seventh he really had to suck it up. The parts weren't feeling like there were in the first couple of innings, I'll tell you that right now."

This also goes to one of the things I love so much about this guy aside from his general make-up and superb start to his career. He battles when his best stuff isn't working and still manages to get outs.

After Enright got the first two guys and walked the third batter, Gibby said it was time. "I certainly wasn't going to let him get the loss...Our guy Barry, bested the best pitcher in the game today."

As for the fohawk hair cut, "I had it throughout the minor leagues too. When you have red hair you can pretty much do anything. But the guys when I came up, they wouldn't let me cut it."

Working the count on Jimenez

After working five innings Enright had thrown 64 pitches and Ubaldo Jimenez 87. The score was tied at one at that point with the Rockies ace only allowing one hit and Barry two.

It was the sixth inning where the D-backs finally got to Jimenez with an opposite field single by Enright and then the Justin Upton homerun.

You better believe that the D-backs forcing Ubaldo to throw a lot of pitches early made a difference in the game even though he had only face one more batter than the minimum.

"That had something to do with it," Gibby said about his team working the count deep. "You get the pitch count up and maybe the fastball loses a little finish, a little life."

Props to the kids for playing smart baseball and finding a way to make one of the best pitchers in baseball work to the point that he made just a couple of mistakes. And when those few opportunities came, they pounced. That's winning baseball.

Other notes:

  • Gibby thought that batting Upton second in the order the last few nights might have something to do with his coming out of slump. Justin wanted no part of that saying his approach hasn't changed because he's hitting higher in the order.
  • Both Gibby and Upton talked about the work that he's putting in the cage and how Chris Young has used his knowledge of Justin's swing to help him as well.
  • J-Up talked about shorting up a bit but still finding a way to use his legs to generate power. He said  that during his last good hitting streak he was getting hits but wasn't hitting the ball with authority like he is now.
  • Gibby praised Upton for working hard and staying determined.
  • Gutierrez closed the game out with Heilman pitching the eighth. Gibby wouldn't say that he has a new closer, just that they set it up that way because they thought that was the best chance to get through the Rockies lineup.
  • In the sixth inning the trainer came out to check on Enright. They saw him shaking his arm a bit and wanted to go see if he was OK. He was. Enright said it was an issue with the black uniform shirts being heavier and a bit longer and he was just having some sweat cause the sleeve to stick to his undershirt. False alarm.
  • Enright was asked about facing some of the top aces in the league. He answered by saying it hasn't been easy hitting against the likes of Lincecum, Strasburg and Jimenez.
  • Barry said he tries not to think about it but gets text messages from buddies about facing aces. He just tries to keep with his game plan and give the team a chance to win.
  • Enright threw 106 pitches and admitted that he was getting tired in the seventh. He said it was unfortunate that he walked that last batter and being a competitor was frustrated coming out of game but said the bullpen did great job.