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Diamondbacks, paced by Tommy Henry, shut out Rockies; Christian Walker slugs 100th career HR

For years, left-hander Tommy Henry was the least heralded of the Diamondbacks’ wave of young starting pitchers. But for the past month, he has been the best of the bunch.

Henry turned in perhaps the best outing of his young major league career on Wednesday night, firing seven scoreless innings in a 6-0 win over the Colorado Rockies.

The win was the Diamondbacks’ fourth in a row, running their record to 33-23. It marks the first time they have been 10 games over .500 since Sept. 8, 2018.

Pavin Smith reached base five times and scored two runs, Corbin Carroll had two hits and two RBIs and Christian Walker connected for the 100th home run of his career, helping the Diamondbacks secure a series victory over the Rockies with a chance at a rare four-game sweep on Thursday afternoon.

When Henry was first brought to the majors in late-April, it felt like he was merely keeping a seat warm for prospect Brandon Pfaadt. As the club pushed into May, it seemed he might have to give up his spot once right-hander Zach Davies returned from the injured list.

Not only is Henry still here, he is looking more and more like a reliable complement to the club’s top two starters, right-handers Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly.

His outing on Wednesday, in which he gave up just two hits and two walks while striking out seven, capped an eye-opening month of May in which he logged a 2.87 ERA in 31 1/3 innings across six appearances (five starts).

Manager Torey Lovullo called it “for sure” the best start of Henry’s big league career, a claim that is hard to dispute. It was the first time he did not allow a run in a start. He also tied a career-high in innings and strikeouts.

“In spurts, I’ve seen it, maybe two or three innings at a time,” Lovullo said. “But this was just a really consistent effort where he was pounding the zone and had a lot of swing and miss. There were some really good curveballs and change-ups were (being) thrown off of a fastball that was really setting the tone.”

Said Henry: “I felt like command in general was pretty good. I may not have gotten ahead of as many guys as we would have liked but knew that when we were behind there were options to get back into counts.”

The Diamondbacks collected seven hits in the first two innings to build a 5-0 lead against Rockies right-hander Dinelson Lamet. Henry seemed to take it from there, allowing a runner in scoring position on only two occasions, pitching out of trouble with ease both times.

Scouts and executives have always seen Henry as the sort of back-of-the-rotation left-hander with a chance to have a solid career. Athletic with a knack for throwing strikes, they perhaps did not see enough pure stuff to project a high ceiling, but they felt his floor was high enough he might stick around a while.

In a system that also included Pfaadt, Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson, Henry never ranked near the top of the club’s prospect list. But he has outperformed each of them this season, posting a 3.73 ERA in 41 innings.

Pfaadt was sent down after a rough, five-start debut. Jameson has bounced between both the majors and the minors and the rotation and the bullpen. Nelson has held onto his rotation spot, but he has not excelled, evidenced by his 5.37 ERA.

“If they can step up and continue to learn and grow, we’re going to keep surging,” Lovullo said of his young starters. “We expect growing pains. That’s part of the game. It’s still part of the game for everybody. They’ve got a really good push going right now, especially Tommy.”

Henry has been working closely with pitching coach Brent Strom between starts, doing all he can to iron out his mechanics to improve everything from his fastball command to the shape of breaking balls to the action on his change-up.

“We’re working on new things, reinforcing old things,” Henry said. “There’s a hunger to get better each day. And there’s always feedback. I appreciate that because (Strom) really values every day, and in order to be good you’ve got to be able to do that.”

Nick Piecoro

Reliever Miguel Castro valuing rest in bounce-back year

Right-hander Miguel Castro has been lights out in relief lately, and part of his success comes from pulling back.

Over the last seven games, Castro recorded three strikeouts, three hits, and no runs allowed in 6 2/3 innings. He has earned three of his five saves in that span, as well.

“If you look back at his numbers with the Yankees and in Baltimore and the Mets, he was an abused pitcher quite a few times,” Diamondbacks pitching coach Brent Strom said. “He always took the ball, even when he wasn’t feeling right, and that affected his effectiveness.”

Signed as a free agent in December, the nine-year veteran accumulated a 3.93 ERA over the last six years with the Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, and New York Yankees. Strom told him from the beginning that he would not face a repeat of his workload with his last three teams.

“One of the things we’re going to try and do is take care of you,” Strom said. “I knew the numbers and I knew how he had quite a few appearances with multiple innings and things like that probably wore him down. We’re trying to take care of him right now.”

Castro holds a 2.22 ERA in 24 1/3 innings and has held batters to a .182 batting average.

—Jenna Ortiz

Wednesday's Diamondbacks-Rockies pitching matchup

Diamondbacks LHP Tommy Henry (2-1, 4.50) vs. Rockies RHP Connor Seabold (1-2, 5.94).

Henry will make his first career start against the Rockies at Chase Field. He is 2-0 with a 5.91 earned run average in two previous starts against Colorado. The last time Henry started against the Rockies was April 29, when Henry got the win with four earned runs allowed in 5 1/3 innings. Henry threw just 10 pitches in 1 1/3 innings on Saturday in the Diamondbacks' loss to Boston. The Rockies have yet to officially announce a starting pitcher for Wednesday, but Seabold is in line to start. Seabold has not made it to five innings in each of his last three starts, against the Reds, Rangers and Mets. He has a career record of 1-6, but the Rockies are 3-2 in games he has started this season.

Tuesday game recap: Zac Gallen gets back to his dominant best, leads Diamondbacks past Rockies

Coming up

Thursday: At Chase Field vs. Rockies, 12:40 p.m.

Friday: At Chase Field vs. Atlanta Braves, 6:40 p.m.

Saturday: At Chase Field vs. Atlanta Braves, 7:10 p.m.

Early Diamondbacks-Rockies reading

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Power play: How Diamondbacks' catcher Gabriel Moreno can add pop at plate

"Who I am at my core": Lovullo's relentless positivity withstands every Diamondbacks test

RIP bird, redux: Diamondbacks' Gallen hits bird in warmups, channeling legend of Big Unit

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: D-Backs shut out Rockies for 4th straight win; strong Tommy Henry start