In his major-league debut, lefty Anthony Banda of the Arizona Diamondbacks acquitted himself well.
Talk about leaving a calling card.
The assignment for rookie left-hander Anthony Banda of the Arizona Diamondbacks was formidable at best. Not only did Bando experience his first major league start Saturday, but faced the Washington Nationals, a club leading the National League in team batting average, hits, runs and RBIs.
The beginning for Banda was as ominous as his assignment. After retiring the first two hitters, he delivered a 3-2 breaking pitch right into Bryce Harper’s wheelhouse. After Harper deposited the pitch onto a concourse well beyond the right-center field seats for his 25th homer of the season, Banda’s house of cards could have folded.
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Instead, Banda, who will 23-years-old on Aug 10, failed to be intimated by the moment. Though he absorbed an eventual 4-3 loss to the Nationals before 39,176 in Chase Field, the experience and emotion was interpreted as a significant building block. Banda survived 5.2 innings in his major-league debut, surrendered seven hits, walked none, fanned five and gave up four earned runs.
Though Banda was sent back to Triple-A Reno after the game, the taste of the major leagues before a large and enthusiastic crowd supplied more than ample motivation. Perhaps the biggest factor for Banda was educational. After the homer to Harper and three straight extra bases which eventually scored three in the Nats’ sixth, Banda told Venom Strikes that pitchers must adapt to changing conditions.
"“By the third time around, they made some adjustments, and I need to do the same,” he said. “You can’t make mistakes up here and good pitchers are able to adjust to conditions. Overall, I was happy. To be successful up here, you can’t be timid and you can’t be scared. I went after hitters, attacked hitters and gave my team the best chance to win.”"
If Banda thought his initial outing against one of the top hitting teams in the majors was successful, manager Torey Lovullo was the first to jump on his bandwagon. After he instructed Banda to go back to Reno and learn from the experience, Lovullo pointed out to Venom Strikes that Banda had reason to be excited.
"“(Banda) did everything he could to get to this moment,” he said. “He believed in himself and that’s what it takes to be a winner. He made pitches, had strong mound presence and showed a fast ball we knew was in the mid-90s. He got nicked up a little (in the sixth) by a few very good hitters, but I was proud of what he did.”"
In that sixth, Banda allowed back-to-back-to-back doubles to Chris Heisey, Harper and Ryan Zimmerman. By that time, the Nats forged out to a 4-1 lead, but single runs by Arizona in the sixth and ninth fell short.
The Washington series concludes with a matinee on Sunday. It’s Robbie Ray (9-4, 2.97 ERA) taking on righty Stephen Strasburg (10-3, 3.31).
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Then, the Atlanta Braves move in for three.
In the opener Monday night, look for righty Zack Greinke (11-4, 2.97) to take on righty R. A. Dickey (8-6, 4.14). On Tuesday night, Taijuan Walker (6-4, 3.61) faces righty Mike Foltynewicz (8-5, 3.87). For the series and home stand finale, it’s lefty Patrick Corbin (7-9, 4.43) against lefty Jamie Garcia (4-7, 4.30).
The Diamondbacks then embark on a three-city, nine-game road trip to St. Louis, Chicago and Wrigley Field and conclude in San Francisco.