Bradley savors night of firsts, including standing ovation
D-backs rookie pitcher admits crowd response made him emotional
By Jesse Sanchez
PHOENIX -- The applause from the home crowd at Chase Field started when the foul ball off the bat of Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick began to drift and eventually landed in the glove of D-backs right fielder Mark Trumbo for the final out of the sixth inning.
The cheers culminated seconds later when rookie Archie Bradley stepped off the mound and took his first few steps toward the dugout after 112 pitches.
Bradley, Arizona's No. 1 pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, had just completed his long-awaited Major League debut, and most of the 37,636 in attendance rose to their feet to celebrate the occasion. They later roared after the D-backs' 6-0 win to clinch the series.
Bradley allowed only one hit in six shutout innings in the stellar debut. He struck out six and walked four.
Saturday night belonged to Bradley, and everyone knew it. The young right-hander picked up his first win, his first hit, he was picked off base for the first time, and now, he can add a standing ovation to the growing list of firsts.
"I was trying to hold it in," Bradley said. "I saw people standing up and I heard people starting to cheer real loud. When I got into the dugout, everyone was kind of right there, and that's when it hit me and I let out a little smile and I was like, 'All right, this is pretty cool.'"
It was more than pretty cool.
Not even reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, who was unceremoniously lifted from the game the next inning after giving up a two-run home run to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, was going to steal the spotlight. The tall Texan walked off the mound in the seventh looking down at his feet after a rare subpar night. By contrast, Bradley strutted off the mound after the top of the sixth with his head held high.
In the end, Kershaw was charged with five earned runs on 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out five.
"If you can't get excited and get ready to pitch against Clayton Kershaw then you need to go get yourself checked out," Bradley said. "I think very few times does he have a game like that and we took advantage of it."
Bradley used a steady dose of fastballs and curveballs Saturday and did not give up a hit until a one-out double by Kendrick in the fourth. He would go on to strike out the side in the fifth and retire the first two batters in the sixth. He walked Adrian Gonzalez before squaring off against Kendrick for the final time to end the inning and conclude his outing.
"He did a good job. He got his first hit, he got picked off for the first time and he threw the ball well," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "He's a confident kid. It's exciting for the ballclub, it's exciting for the organization."
It was also exciting for a special group seated near home plate. Fifty-five family members and friends were among those on their feet cheering Bradley as he walked off the mound for the final time.
"I don't know if it was my nerves as much as eagerness and my blood were pumping, ready to get out there," Bradley said. "My heart was beating really fast and I was just ready to get this thing going."
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.