Idaho Falls Chukars pitching coach Mark Davis won’t have an easier night at the ballpark than he had Friday night.
Chukars pitchers got 14 groundball outs and didn’t allow a runner to reach second base, and Idaho Falls got its first winning streak of the season with a 9-0 victory over the Grand Junction Rockies in front of 1,841 fans at Melaleuca Field.
Davis said there was a simple explanation for the dominance of his pitchers Friday.
“They were aggressive,” said Davis, who won the Cy Young Award for the Padres in 1989.
It all started with starter Bryan Brickhouse, a 2011 third-round draft choice who is in Idaho Falls on a rehab assignment while working his way back after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013. The 6-foot, 195-pound righthander allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out three in four innings. He induced seven groundball outs and threw just 34 pitches.
“He set the tone,” Davis said. “He had a good breaking ball, a lively fastball and he actually threw a couple changeups. He threw the ball really well.”
The relievers followed suit.
Right-hander Ashton Goudeau, who spent all of last season with Idaho Falls, pitched three shutout innings while allowing just one hit and striking out two. A pair of lefthanders closed it out, with Brandon Thomas allowing just a walk in the shutout eighth and Utah product Nick Green finishing it off by striking out two of three hitters in the ninth as the rain poured down.
The two Grand Junction batters who had hits were both cut down trying to steal second.
“(The Rockies) are a very aggressive team as it is, but if you get your starting pitcher to set a rhythm and to set the tone of the game, the guys that benefit are the relievers,” Davis said.
Chukars pitchers also benefited from a newly productive offense, which pounded out 13 hits, drew two walks and scored in five of eight innings.
Four Chukars had four hits, led by ninth-place hitter Jecksson Flores (2 for 4, two runs scored, two RBIs). Luis Valenzuela was 2 for 5 with a run scored, Robert Pehl was 2 for 5 and Kyle Pollock was 2 for 3 with an RBI. Brawlun Gomez also had a big night, going 1 for 3 with triple, three runs scored and an RBI.
The Chukars and Rockies return to Melaleuca Field at 7:15 tonight for Game 3 of the four-game series. Idaho Falls hits the road Monday for a three-game series in Ogden, Utah.
CHUKARS CHATTER: Idaho Falls’ offense broke out Friday, but it’s been among the worst in the league early in the season. The Chukars ranked last in the league in extra base hits and were tied with Ogden for the fewest home runs (four). They were also last in the South Division in batting average through 11 games. … Third-round pick Eric Skoglund is scheduled to make his Melaleuca Field debut tonight against Grand Junction. Skoglund, a left-hander out of Central Florida, pitched two shutout innings in his professional debut June 23 at Grand Junction.