Record 21-17. Pace: 90-72. Change on 2012: +5
So, how did I celebrate Mother's Day? I closed the bedroom door, let the spouse take care of the kids, and watched baseball. Isn't that what it's all about anyway? The Diamondbacks just didn't cooperate by winning the game. Instead, they thought it was Opposite Day.
For the first eight innings, it looked like Opposite Day was going to be a good thing for Arizona. Brandon McCarthy had a truly great start, his first of the year. I thought this was going to be something I could crow about, since I recapped Trevor Cahill's first good start of the season, too. Sadly, ‘twas not to be. The bad side of Opposite Day reared its ugly head in the tenth inning, when Matt Reynolds gave up his first earned run(s) of the season, and Arizona lost its first extra-inning game of this year.
The tale of Arizona's game can be found in ESPN's box score:
2B: D Gregorius (6, J Papelbon)
3B: D Gregorius (1, K Kendrick)
HR: G Parra (3, 1st inning off K Kendrick 0 on, 0 Out)
RBI: G Parra (11), A Pollock (15)
2-out RBI: A Pollock
Diamondbacks RISP: 1-6 (J Kubel 0-1, M Montero 0-1, A Pollock 1-1, E Chavez 0-1, M Prado 0-2)
Team LOB: 7
When you only have two RBI, and one of them is your lead-off guy? Maybe it's a bad thing.
The top of the first inning must have had Philadelphia wondering whether they prepared for the right guy, because McCarthy came out hitting his spots. He had strike outs of Ben Revere and Chase Utley acting as bookends to a Jimmy Rollins ground-out to Prado at second base. His breaking pitch was working really nicely both in and out of the zone, keeping hitters off balance.
In the Arizona half of the inning, Gerardo Parra worked into a 1-2 count off of Kyle Kendrick before deciding to play the part of the power-hitting right fielder, sending a lead-off home run over the right field fence. Didi Gregorious followed, also getting into a two-strike (2-2, to be exact) count before hitting a triple into the right-center gap. Unfortunately, Martin Prado continued his struggling ways by striking out on four pitches.
Then, it got fun. Eric Chavez came up and chopped one to first. Instead of taking the out at first, Ryan Howard decided to go home, since Gregorious appeared to be running on contact. It looked like Didi had been hung out to dry, but Erik Kratz is not very good at this run-down thing. He slowly lumbered toward Didi, while Gregorious just sort of skipped slowly sideways back towards third. Kratz never picked up any speed to try to close the gap, so Didi was able to dive back into third. Meanwhile, Chavez ends up on second base.
Miguel Montero was next up. He had some bad swings, going for things out of the zone. I have to say I am feeling badly for Miggy right now. Anyway, he got it to 3-2 before making contact. Again, Gregorious seemed to break for home on contact. Again, Ryan Howard threw home. This time, there was no rundown, and Didi made the second out at home. Montero got to first on the fielder's choice, and Chavez moved up to take the spot at third. So, was Arizona going to waste a triple with no outs?
Fortunately, they did not. A.J. Pollock came up and hit the second pitch back up the middle to score Chavez. Around this time, Bob Brenly noted that Kyle Kendrick was having issues with his cut fastball, and how that pitch can so easily blow up in a pitcher's face. In short, Brenly is not a fan of the cut fastball.
Meanwhile, Jason Kubel came up to bat. He would end the inning on a ground ball to Utley at second. Maybe I'm wrong that Gibby won't platoon his two highest-paid outfielders for long. He had the option to sit either Pollock or Parra today, and chose to sit Ross instead. For now, he seems to be happy with Pollock in center and Parra in right. I guess it's a good thing he did so, since they were responsible for the only two RBI.
Things didn't go quite as smoothly for McCarthy in the top of the 2nd, but he managed to get through it fine. He got his third strike-out of the game when Ryan Howard went down on three straight pitches. Delmon Young was able to single past a diving Gregorious, but was put out by Prado on fielder's choice by Dominic Brown. Freddy Galvis lined a single into right, moving up Brown. All was for naught when Erik Kratz hit into another fielder's choice that saw Galvis out at second base. So, no harm, no foul through two.
Unfortunately, Arizona couldn't do any harm in the bottom of the inning, either. Eric Hinske couldn't hold up on strike three, then both McCarthy and Parra hit easy balls back to Kendrick to wrap things up.
The game seemed to be moving along at a brisk pace, with another 1-2-3 inning for McCarthy in the bottom of the third. Kendrick popped out in foul territory on the left side of the infield. Revere grounded out to short, and Rollins struck out on four pitches. That would be four strike-outs for Brandon through three innings.
Kendrick decided he'd like to do the 1-2-3 inning, as well. This one would hurt a bit more. Gregorious popped out to Utley in shallow right. Prado hit a chopper to third. Then, came the pain. Chavez came up and hit a long fly ball to left. It looked like it was going out, but Brown decided he was going to play defense or something, and went up over the wall to make the third out.
The top of the fourth would see Utley fly out to shallow right, and Howard hit a pop-up to shallow left. Two down. Young would get a base hit to right field before McCarthy would end the threat by getting one hit back to the mound by Brown. The bottom of the inning would be even quicker, as Montero, Pollock and Kubel went down in order. At this point, Kendrick had dismissed ten Diamondbacks in a row.
The fifth would see McCarthy face Galvis to lead off. Galvis was able to take a low pitch and flip it out into shallow right. This is one thing I noticed with several of the hits off McCarthy today; they weren't bad pitches. The Philly hitters were just taking the low one, and doing whatever they could with it. That's a plus for Brandon. Anyway, Kratz followed with the fifth Philly strike-out of the day. Kendrick bunted Galvis to second, but Revere ended the inning with a grounder to short.
Kendrick would keep doing his thing, though. By the time Hinske had flied out to right and McCarthy had grounded out to second, the Philly pitcher had dismissed twelve in a row. It was on Parra to end that streak...and he did by hitting an infield grounder to the left side. Runners are good. Kendrick would then return to form by striking out Gregorious on a 3-2 inside strike.
The sixth would see a base runner for each team. Rollins flied out to left, Utley got on base with a single to center, Howard moved Utley up by grounding out to first, and Young flied out to right. Prado started things off for Arizona by grounding out to the short stop. Chavez got on base with a line drive to center. Miggy looked lost up there again, striking out. It all came to a close with Pollock hitting to short, and Chavez being put out at second. The game was still just flying by.
McCarthy was still going strong in the seventh inning. After getting Brown to fly out to left, he let Galvis on with a single up the middle. Then came the 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Kratz to end any hopes the Phillies might have had. Crushing hopes is what McCarthy strives for.
Arizona tried to look threatening in their half of the inning. Kubel was able to get a base hit single to right when it looked like Young made a bad read. Hinske flied out to left. McCarthy came up to bunt Kubel over, but did a less-than-stellar job of it. He got the bunt down (well, up, since he popped it up to the mound). Kendrick let it fall to the ground, then turned around and threw Kubel out at second. McCarthy to first on the fielder's choice. At the time, I wondered if if Gibby should have pulled McCarthy for a pinch hitter. Let him go out on a high note, and go for the offense. It's a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenario, for sure. Parra would end the inning by bouncing out to Galvis at third.
In the top of the eighth, Charlie Manuel decided that was a day for Kendrick. Michael Young came in to pinch hit, and was able to line one to right for a single. Manuel tried to get tricky again--too tricky, maybe--by pinch hitting Laynce Nix (of the superfluous "y") for Revere. Nix hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Rollins popped out to Didi on the first pitch he saw. Jeremy Horst replaced Kendrick on the mound in the bottom of the inning. He did quick work, getting a fly-out from Gregorious and strike-outs from both Prado and Chavez. Good guys still ahead...for now.
Then, came that annoying Heath Bell Experience talk. Bell has been doing well lately, so it's hard to hate on the guy...but, damn! This was not fun. Utley would double to right on the third pitch. Howard moved Utley up to third when he grounded out to second. D. Young came up and worked the count full. It's important to note this at-bat, because Bell was the beneficiary of a "strike" that was way outside. Arizona would later face the same kind of calls, but this wasn't a one-sided thing. Delmon did what he should have, despite the call: he doubled to right field, driving Utley in. One run game. We're still gonna win, right? Please?
Anway, John Mayberry, Jr. was sent in to pinch run for D. Young, because we've all seen the comedy of Young trying to run the bases. Brown was able to get a grounder by Gregorious for a game-tying RBI single. No good, folks. No good at all. Galvis would then pop out in foul territory on the left side of the infield. Manuel sent Carlos Ruiz in to pinch hit for Kratz. This would lead to another base hit single, moving Brown up to second. At this point, Bob Brenly was trying to blame the pink seams for Heath Bell's issues. Um...no. The pink seams didn't seem to bother Brad Ziegler, who came in for his usual one-pitch out and dismissed Kevin Frandsen. Whole new ball game in the bottom of the ninth.
Would we get extras, or would the Diamondbacks find a way to pull this one out in their half? Well, you already read the first few paragraphs, right? Antonio Bastardo would get Miggy to ground out to first, then strike out Pollock. Cody Ross was sent in to pinch hit for Kubel. Wow, did you ever think you'd see that? It worked out, with Ross working the walk out of Bastardo. The GDT was calling for Goldschmidt, and Gibby heard them. The Golden One walked towards the batter's box. Manuel came out to make sure that Goldschmidt had been announced as the batter. (Rules, people, rules!) Yes, he was assured that he had. In came the right-handed Justin De Fratus...to strike out Goldschmidt. Ugh.
But it's all good, right? Arizona was 6-0 in extras. That had to mean something. Well, it means they're now 6-1 in extras, I guess. Matt Reynolds came in to pitch the top of the tenth. Goldy stayed in at first, and Ross stayed in at left field. Reynolds had been the relief-pitching Super Man so far, so this was reassuring. Our best outfielders, our young star at first, and our best relief pitcher. You did forget this was Opposite Day, though, didn't you?
It started out well, with Nix grounding out to first. Rollins would line a 2-2 pitch to left for a single. Utley would follow up with a line drive to right field for a double, moving Rollins to third. Howard at the plate. He who has had a horrendous series. Howard would promptly remember how to hit, depositing a 2-1 pitch into shallow right for a single, two RBI and the lead. And, thus ended the 22-appearance scoreless streak and 0.00 ERA of Matt Reynolds. Things would seem to settle down when Mayberry, Jr. struck out, but Brown followed that by hitting a single up the middle and moving Howard to second. Reynolds would finally end the inning by striking out Galvis.
Time for Arizona to try to get to Jonathan Papelbon, who had thrown 29 pitches for five outs the night before. Cliff Pennington was sent in to pinch hit for the pitcher's spot. He would be called out on a third strike that...wasn't. Much like the strike against Miggy last night and the strike given to Bell in the ninth, it was way outside. Parra would take a strike on the inside corner before chopping one back to Papelbon for the second out. Gregorious continued his light-hitting ways with a double to left field. Now, Prado was the last hope. I love Martin, but that didn't fill me with confidence. And it shouldn't have, because he would fly out to center on his second pitch. Game over.
Oh, well. I guess the Diamondbacks weren't going to be perfect in extra innings and Reynolds wasn't going to end the season with a 0.00 ERA. It's just a huge bummer for McCarthy. Then again, McCarthy has let his offense down in his other appearances. Have to get this "team" thing together for Brandon's starts.
Early on, I was going to give this to Clefo's comment about Angel Hernandez checking the replay, but Paper Clip swooped in later. Since I lifted the comment for the recap's theme, I had to go with:
ITS OPPOSITE DAYby Paper Clip on May 12, 2013 | 4:00 PM reply rec flag actions
Bells and whistles, by Jim
[Click to enlarge, at fangraphs.com]
Mother Theresa: Brandon McCarthy, 49.6%
Mother Superior: Brad Ziegler, +11.8%
Mother ******: Matt Reynolds, -40.1%
Mothers of Tears: Bell, -39.4%; Montero, -16.6%; Prado, -12.0%
Appropriately, a good day for the ladies in the comments, the top three being Songbird, Clefo and onedotfive, with asteroid just behind them. Also to be seen: AJV19, AzDbackfanInDc, AzRattler, Britback, Dutchfan, GuruB, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Marc Fournier, Paper Clip, The so-called Beautiful, TolkienBard, TylerO, azshadowwalker, blank_38, coldblueAZ, ford.williams.10, hotclaws, imstillhungry95, luckycc, rd33, snakecharmer and soco.