ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 28: Chris Young #24 of the Arizona Diamondbacks hits a solo homer in the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on June 28, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Record: 38-37. Pace: 82-80. Change on Last Year: -3.
The Diamondbacks went into this game in quite a pickle. After dominating bad teams at Chase last week, and gaining some ground in the division race, it seemed like things were finally looking up. But then they lost the first two games against the Braves, and what little momentum they had seemed to be slipping away. I hesitate this game as must win, but a win was highly preferable. Luckily, that's what happened.
The Diamondbacks had a golden opportunity to grab the lead in the second inning. Jason Kubel led the frame off with a double that went deep into center field. He moved over to the third on a Paul Goldschmidt groundout, and the subsequent Miguel Montero walk made it seem like things were really cooking. Unfortunately, Aaron Hill flied out to right field and Kubel decided to test Jason Heyward's arm. Look, this kid has a cannon, don't do it. But Kubel did it, and was promptly thrown out at the plate.
The meat grinder known as the Braves offense started rotating in the bottom of the second. They managed men on third and second with only one out, on a Larry "Chipper" Jones single and a Freddie Freeman double, but they were stranded without even much of a chance to advance further. Andrelton Simmons grounded out to third, where Willie Bloomquist made a slick play to not only hold Jones, but to get the out at first. Jair Jurrjens then did what pitchers do, which is strike-out.
Jair Jurrjens was more than acceptable as a pitcher, however. He didn't go particularly deep into the game, getting only 5 and 2/3 innings of work, gave up 2 earned runs off 6 hits and 3 walks. Perhaps more egregious of all, though, was his lack of strikeouts against a swing happy Arizona team. I imagine he's crying himself to sleep on his big pillow, tonight.
It looked like he would be in line for a win, however, when the Braves staked a 2 run lead after 4 innings. I know I looked at the score and worried this would spiral out of control, quickly. The first run was scored off Brian McCann's double that was only a few feet from being a homer, which brought around Martin Prado. The second run was another grindy play: Simmons doubled deep to right, on a ball that just bounced off the tips of Justin Upton's glove, and he was brought in after a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly. So many sacrifices you'd think the Braves were running an ancient religion.
The Diamondbacks managed to get a chance for revenge in the top of the 6th, however, when Bloomquist hit a lead-off single. He was joined by Upton, who earned a walk. Kubel, looking to make up for his second inning boner, smacked a double to deep right field, which tied up the game 2-2.
The bullpens of the respective teams traded zeroes, and it felt like this was going to go to extra innings. That wouldn't have been great for either team, given that neither had a starter that went particularly deep. Chris Young, however, felt differently. He stepped up to the plate in the top of the ninth, with one out, and faced Atlanta's ace closer, Craig Kimbrel. Young has had a trying time since coming back from the DL. He's not trying anymore, he's doing. And what he did was launch a home run deeeeeeeep into left field, a ball that had the sound and fury off the bat that you just knew was a goner, and the D-backs had the lead.
Well, that's all JJ Putz needs. Sure, he's been shaky this season at times. But he shut the door tonight, inducing 2 groundouts and a strikeouts. He owes Bloomquist and Goldschmidt a steak dinner, however, for the last play of the game. Prado lasered a ball down the third base line, and when Bloomquist had his glove on it he was falling over the foul line. But he made the grab, and reared back to throw, launching a ball that Goldschmidt was able to handle to get the runner out by step. Sweep avoided.
Destroy: Chris Young (32.3%)
Synthesis: Jason Kubel (29.1%), Patrick Corbin (17.3%), JJ Putz (16.8%)
Refusal: Aaron Hill (-27.8%)
The important thing is that the Diamondbacks won. But you didn't read this far, if you did at all, to read about that. You want to know about Trevor Bauer. Or maybe you watched the game and you know about Bauer. Or maybe you're a future, alien civilization that thinks this is a beacon that has instructions to beat the Reapers.
He did okay. Not great. Not Strasburg-like. Just okay. Some of his pitches looked great, but his sequencing wasn't, and he used too many pitches. Did he get squeezed? Sometimes, sure. But the truth is that his pitches looked to be all over the place, and it didn't seem like he was completely fooling the Braves with his breaking ball. The first three hits against him were all off off-speed pitches. He mixed in others, though, for strikes and balls, so good on him for having the guts to keep at it. He did work hard to get out of a couple jams, and there's definitely glimmers of hope.
But 4 innings pitched, with 5 hits and 3 walks, with only 3 strikeouts, is not amazing. So hopefully the hype has burnt away. Hopefully what's left is what there is: a very good young pitcher who might still get to be a great young pitcher.
A fairly busy GDT, given the start time. 45 users chatted their way to over 800 posts, with AzDbackfanInDc out in front. He was joined by: Clefo, azwebber, JoeCB1991, AzDbackfanInDc, txzona, BattleMoses, BigLeagueAZ, dbacks79, GuruB, SenSurround, hotclaws, Jim McLennan, kishi, onedotfive, porty99, blank_38, since_98, Zavada's Moustache, The so-called Beautiful, BulldogsNotZags, DivineWolfwood, dbacks25, Turambar, Airwave, CaptainCanuck, shoewizard, luckycc, imstillhungry95, Fangdango, azshadowwalker, Backin'the'Backs, Bryn21, Muu, x met, marionette, JustAJ, Circa4life, Husk, egboyz, dbacksfann, Joel Preston, asteroid, Lisalisa8, DbackCardsFan, and Rockkstarr12.
Clefp might have penned this yesterday, but it's Comment of the Day today:
So there you have it. A win, and a the avoidance of a sweep, the debut of a prized prospect, and hopefully a tempering of expectations. Didn't think you were getting all that in one game, did ya?
Up next the D-backs head off to Milwaukee. For your convenience, here's a map of all the FedEx's in the city, should you, ahem, need to use one. For sending off not drug samples, of course. First pitch tomorrow is at 5:10pm, Arizona time. Be here, or be somewhere else.