Juan Cruz recorded just two outs before being pulled from Wednesday’s loss to the Padres, but he rebounded from his worst start of the season in a big way Sunday.
Cruz, who began the year in the bullpen but replaced Russ Ortiz in the rotation in late April, limited the Braves to two runs on two hits through six innings of the Diamondbacks’ 2-1 loss Sunday.
He was perfect through four innings and didn’t give up his two runs until the sixth. It was far different from his last outing, when he surrendered nine runs on five hits in twothirds of an inning.
“I felt very good. The other day, you saw the game,” Cruz said. “You’ve got to forget about the negative thing because you don’t want to bring the negative things to the game. You just forget what’s happened.”
Cruz quickly eliminated any notion that there would be a repeat of Wednesday’s performance in a 13-pitch first inning. He struck out Marcus Giles on three pitches, Edgar Renteria on four pitches and Chipper Jones on six with the count full. He finished with seven strikeouts.
Unfortunately, he didn’t get the run support usually provided by the Diamondbacks’ offense. Arizona didn’t get on the board until the ninth inning.
“If Juan Cruz pitches like that, we’re going to win a lot of games,” Craig Counsell said.
One of the first players out of the Diamondbacks clubhouse Sunday was Brandon Medders.
Relief pitcher by day, musician by night, Medders had to head down Interstate 17 toward Tucson where his band was expected to serve as opener for country singer Billy Currington at the Rialto Theatre.
Medders, one of several guitarists on the Diamondbacks roster, said he and his bandmates had to learn a handful of country songs for the gig since they usually stick with rock ’n’ roll.
With the Phoenix Suns hosting the deciding game of their first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers tonight, the Diamondbacks could be greeted by a small crowd at Chase Field.
Of course, the Diamondbacks themselves are interested in developments down the street at US Airways Center.
“Everybody’s pulling for the Suns here, absolutely,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Sometimes when it’s on during a game we’ve got to make sure that everyone’s not in (the clubhouse) watching it. We’ve had several games where once our game’s over, guys stay here until the (Suns) game is over before they leave.”
Injured pitchers Russ Ortiz and Terry Mulholland made rehabilitation appearances with Triple-A Tucson Sunday. Ortiz surrendered two runs on six hits in four innings. He struck out four and walked two. Mulholland earned the win, tossing three scoreless innings. He gave up two hits and struck out one.