Zack Godley made 27 appearances for the D-backs last season, 18 of them as a reliever. The right-hander worked out of the bullpen during Spring Training this year, so when his assignment came to open the season as a starter back in Triple-A, he knew there would be an adjustment period. Wednesday night jump-started his process.
Godley (1-1) took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and finished allowing just one hit over seven shutout frames, striking out seven without a walk, as Triple-A Reno took down Albuquerque, 5-1.
"It feels great to be able to go out, work into the zone, just pound the zone and get back to doing that again, getting guys some ground balls and letting my defense work," Godley said. "I threw  pitches, and you can't do that if you're striking everybody out. They played great defense behind me."
Godley's impressive efficiency led to his best and longest outing of the young season. The 26-year-old hit Noel Cuevas with a pitch to open the second, but erased him with a double-play ball off the bat of No. 20 Rockies prospect Jordan Patterson. He got his infielders plenty of work with nine outs on the ground and only two in the air.
Video: Zack Godley records a K for the Aces
"As long as there are zeros on the board, it's always a good night, but really and truly, that low pitch count all equates to the defense," Godley said. "Guys making plays behind you makes it a really good night. You keep pounding the zone, keep letting them hit it, it's the main goal. You stay away from the sweet spots and keep getting them to pound it in the ground, it's always a good thing to do. Especially when you're at a park like this, playing in the PCL, playing in a place with such a high altitude, such a hitters' park."
Perhaps most impressive was the South Carolina native's command. After walking nine batters and fanning eight in his first two outings of the year, he took Wednesday's line as a strong step forward in his return to the rotation.
"I've prided myself since I've been pitching on being a guy to try and pound the zone, try and not let guys walk, try and give as little free passes as I can," he said. "I'm trying to get back to that as much as I can my first two outings, just getting back in a feel for starting again. Being in the bullpen for Spring Training, I'm just getting back in the feel of it."
After jumping from Double-A to the Majors for his debut in 2015, Godley reached Triple-A for the first time last year, going 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA in seven appearances (six starts). Repeating the level, he's employing lessons learned last time.
"Just understanding the ballparks here in the PCL, I'm understanding what the hitters are trying to do and just trying to get away from what they're trying to do," he said. "I'm just trying to go against the grain from what their plan is and trying to keep the ball on the ground, keep letting my defense work."
Godley threw 44 of his paltry 61 pitches for strikes, but allowed his first hit when No. 5 Rockies prospect Raimel Tapia singled to right field to lead off the seventh. The right-hander induced another play off Rafael Ynoa and retired Mike Tauchman on a flyout to left for his final out. Godley faced the minimum 21 batters in his seven frames.
Video: The Isotopes' Raimel Tapia comes through with a hit
"They just kept pounding it into the ground and playing right in to what I wanted to do," he said. "When I came in (after the seventh), they decided it was time for me to come out of the game, and I respect that. I do what they want me to."
Godley worked with a lead from the moment he took the ball following Christian Walker's RBI double to center in the first. Into the win column for the first time in 2017, he is eager to build on the momentum.
"Just continue to pound the zone, continue to work all of my pitches in," Godley said. "I was locating pretty much all of my pitches really well. The biggest thing I can take away from it is to come in and throw a good bullpen doing the same thing, just try to work on location and go out and do it all over again."