Taylor Widener made his first career start on Sunday and it was exactly what the previously winless Arizona Diamondbacks needed.
In the 3-1 win over the San Diego Padres, the right-hander allowed just three hits and three walks while striking out six across six scoreless innings of work.
“It was exactly what we’ve been talking about having our starters do,” manager Torey Lovullo said postgame via Zoom. “We haven’t gotten a lot of length out of our starters, so for him to step up and do what he did after losing the first three games of the season, that’s not an easy chore.
“Typically, young pitchers put a little bit too much pressure on themselves and they might not execute as precisely as he did today. So for him to block all that out, go out and execute the way he did, make pitches the way he did, it was a solid day for him.”
Widener’s solid outing, combined with five relievers that gave up just one run, helped the D-backs avoid a four-game sweep by San Diego.
“Any time you can get a win it feels pretty good, especially with it being my first time starting, it feels really good to get the win,” Widener said.
The 26-year-old made 12 appearances out of the bullpen for Arizona last season and posted a 4.50 ERA, 22 strikeouts and 12 walks in 20 innings.
Widener said he felt no extra nerves in his first start versus a typical bullpen call during a game — mostly thanks to having fans back in the stands.
“When I was warming up, I was looking in the stands and I was just so excited to see people again, I didn’t really think about anything besides how happy I was to hear people screaming again,” he said with a laugh.
The offense provided enough support for Widener, starting off with a two-run triple by David Peralta in the first inning that opened up scoring for the D-backs. The left fielder went 2-for-4 on the day.
“We’ve experienced some heartbreak and some frustration in a couple of our losses,” Lovullo said. “For these guys to come out on the final day of this series and get off to the start that we did, we were ready to play baseball, ready to make a statement.”
The D-backs will look to keep the momentum going when they face the Colorado Rockies in a three-game series starting Tuesday. First pitch is at 5:40 p.m.