Josh Collmenter grew up throwing tomahawks in Homer, Michigan and it shows. He reaches above his head higher than anyone in baseball, flings the ball and still achieves pinpoint control. The speed of his pitches never reach 90 mph and there isn’t much variety; fastball, cutter, change up, but then again the curve ball is a lollipop rainbow sight to see and so tempting.
There’s not much else to his scouting report other than; doesn’t wear batting gloves when he hits and not afraid of ghosts.
Collmenters is in his fourth season with the Arizona Diamondbacks and some teams have not been able to figure him out. The Milwaukee Brewers are one of them and Miller Park doesn’t help the situation. It’s a small sample, but in 12 innings, Collmenter has allowed 6 hits and one run. He also dominated the Brewers in a 2011 playoff game; 7 innings, 2 hits, one run and a game 3 victory.
Anyway, the planets and players have shifted since then, but still, the match up on paper remains horrible for the Brewers because a 68 mph pitch looks nice and juicy floating up to the plate; especially to over aggressive Brewer batters. There’s also the paranormal to consider.
The Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee is old. I think it has the largest collection of Victorian art in the world. Visiting teams have been staying there since the New York Yankees came to town to face the Milwaukee Braves in the 1957 World Series.
The lobby looks like a Catholic Church; dripping with ornaments and tall ceilings. The original Pfister was one rectangular building. A new tower was added with more rooms. Many players believe the old section is haunted by ghosts. Well, they don’t think it. They know it from experience and refuse to sleep there when in Milwaukee. Some players are ok with the new tower. Others won’t step foot in either.
Diamondbacks’ pitcher Wade Miley learned the hard way. He stayed in the old section and swears he heard loud footsteps and children’s voices. He even recorded them. D-backs rookie shortstop Chris Owings has heard the recording. Well, this pumped up Collmenter who insisted on staying in the old section because he wanted to meet these ghosts.
I don’t know anything about ghosts, but I know it takes some courage to not be bothered by the possibility. Collmenter faced the Brewers Wednesday night and everyone knew about his previous success pitching at Miller Park; except maybe the Brewers.
They scored five runs off him in the first inning. Nothing strange in that. Statistical patterns were meant to be contradicted. It was the way the Brewers scored those runs or maybe more importantly, what happened after.
Paul Goldschmidt hit a bomb in the first inning. D-backs take a 2-0 lead. The Brewers respond with a run in the bottom half. There’s two outs and a runner on third. Easy ground ball to the shortstop Owings who fields it cleanly, but throws a knuckle ball to Goldschmidt at first base who drops the ball. Batter safe, runner from third scores. Inning continues. Three more line drive base hits and three more runs-all unearned. The Brewers lead 5-2.
And that was it. They didn’t score another run. Eight shutout innings. Collmenter didn’t pitch the entire game; didn’t factor in the decision, but he made quick work of the Brewers and lasted into the sixth inning. He had slammed shut whatever weird window had opened back in the first inning.
And the Diamondbacks crawled back into the game. Chris Owings hit his first career home run to sort of atone for his throwing error. Aaron Hill hit a go ahead homerun in the eight inning. Final score Arizona 7, Milwaukee 5.
Josh Collmenter didn’t get the win, but he lulled Brewer batters into bad swings again and it looked a hell of a lot like flailing at ghosts.
The Brewers are 22-12.