The formula for a good Barry Enright start versus a bad Barry Enright start always seemed to come down to walks.
In his four quality starts for the Albuquerque Isotopes, the veteran right-hander did not walk a batter in 23 2/3 innings. In his three not-so-quality starts, Enright walked seven batters in 15 1/3 innings while allowing 22 runs (21 earned).
Enright turned that little stat on its ear, walking two Thursday night and yet still rolling for seven innings as the Isotopes thumped the visiting Chihuahuas 8-1, holding El Paso to just three hits.
“I’ve been focusing on trying to be consistent,” Enright (4-1) said. “I had some really good ones this year and two or three really bad ones. I told (pitching coach Mark) Brewer that I’m a little too old for inconsistency. I was focusing on throwing strikes tonight.”
Enright only allowed two hits, a solo home run to Nick Schulz in the third inning and a single to Diego Goris in the seventh. It was one of his most efficient outings of the season as he only needed 87 pitches to go those seven innings.
“The expectation for him when he pitches is to pitch exactly like he pitched today, which is to pound the strike zone and throw strikes,” manager Glenallen Hill said. “When you have a guy who tops out at (only) 91 miles an hour and he’s able to command the ball, it’s very enjoyable to watch.”
Staying ahead of the hitters all night was a huge key for Enright.
“For me, everyone thinks that since I don’t throw as hard as everyone else, I have to pick the corners more or throw more offspeed pitches, but for me everything works off my fastball, getting ahead of people,” Enright said. “I felt very comfortable with (Ryan) Hanigan back there, he did a great job.”
The rest of the Albuquerque lineup gave Enright plenty of support as well. After Schulz’s home run tied the game, the Isotopes (36-36) responded in the bottom of the frame on Derrik Gibson’s two-out RBI triple and Cristhian Adames’ RBI single to make it 3-1.
“Being able to work and be efficient while the guys were continuing to put up runs for me really helped,” Enright said. “I tried to put up zeroes for them.”
Albuquerque tacked on two runs in the fifth and one apiece in the sixth, seventh and eighth. Mike Tauchman went 3-for-5 with two runs, a double and an RBI. Adames and Daniel Castro finished with two hits and two RBI apiece. Ryan McMahon went 2-for-5 with a run scored.
Jairo Diaz tossed a scoreless eighth and James Farris finished the game with a scoreless ninth as the Isotopes leapfrogged the Chihuahuas (36-37) back into second place in the Pacific Southern Division.
Rehabbing Padres starter Jered Weaver allowed three runs on five hits and one walk in three innings for El Paso.
The two teams will continue the series Friday at 7:05 p.m. The Isotopes will start lefty Sam Howard (0-0, 6.48 ERA) against another rehabbing San Diego arm, former Rockies lefty Christian Friedrich.
Prior to the game, the Isotopes and Rockies will hold a press conference during which they are expected to announce an extension of their affiliation agreement that was set to run out at the end of the 2018 season.