Record: 51-47. Pace: 84-78. Change: +2.
When the game started, the Dodgers were on their way to demolishing the Nationals and tying up the division. Arizona was staring down a possible sweep at the hands of the Giants. Salvaging the series would mean salvaging the division lead, at least for one more day. It would also mean breaking the hearts of Dodger fans, at least for one more day.
It didn't look promising when the day started. We knew Kershaw was going strong for the Dodgers. In our game, Arizona was facing Madison Bumgarner, who had won his last three starts, had a 1.86 ERA in three starts against Arizona this year giving up a total of only four runs, and had given up three or fewer runs in every start this season. To make matters worse, Arizona hasn't exactly been capitalizing on the opportunities they've had this series. Would they be able to break out and hold onto the division lead?
The top of the first was promising. After A.J. Pollock was robbed of a hit to deep left-center, Martin Prado came up and hit one in almost the same spot for a one-out triple. On the sixth pitch of his plate appearance, Paul Goldschmidt put Arizona on the board with a sac fly. Aaron Hill would bring the inning to a conclusion with strike out. But, yay! An actual lead!
Randall Delgado took the mound in the bottom of the first, hoping to end the Diamondbacks' losing ways. He was fairly efficient, allowing only a one-out walk to Marco Scutaro. The walks were really the only things that hurt Delgado today. Coming into the game, he had only given up five total walks. He gave up four today, almost doubling his total.
Very little happened in the way of offense for the next couple of innings. Cody Ross was the only Diamondback to get on base in the second or third innings, and Kensuke Tanaka was the only Giant who managed a hit over those two frames. It was during this time that Gonzo began making known some of his disagreements with Gibbyball, most notably the refusal to have anything close to a set line-up.
The fourth would see slight opportunities for both teams. Goldy led off the top of the inning, doubling to left on the eighth pitch of his at-bat. Aaron Hill was robbed of a hit by a diving Gregor Blanco in center. Miguel Montero popped out to short, but Ross followed with a two-out walk. Unfortunately, this left Gerardo Parra to face the tough lefty in hopes of adding on. 'Twas not to be, as he grounded out to second to end the inning. Two left on base, one in scoring position. The concern about yesterday's LOBfest repeating itself was real.
The Giants also tried to get it going in the bottom half. After a Buster Posey ground-out, Pablo Sandoval hit one to deep right field. Fortunately, Parra was there to record the second out. Hunter Pence worked his own two-out walk, followed by Brandon Belt lining one into shallow right. Now, it was the Giants with two on and two out. Tanaka put an end to that with a strike-out. No harm, no foul. Diamondbacks still ahead 1-0.
The fifth was a mess of poor fundamentals for Arizona. Cliff Pennington was able to single to lead off the inning. Delgado was sent up to bunt him over, but only managed to pop up the bunt into foul territory for Belt. Well, still only one out, right? You say that, but you don't know the creative ways Arizona can manage a double play. With Pollock at the plate, Pennington decided to break for second. Pollock promptly pops out to Belt. Pennington, still unaware that he's a dead duck, is doubled up. Not good.
After a Brandon Crawford walk to lead off the bottom of the fifth, Bumgarner demonstrated proper bunting technique and moved him over. Fortunately, that didn't help the Giants, as Blanco and Scutaro both made outs via the 6-3 play.
Arizona would get in its own way again the very next inning. After a single to left field, Prado decided he'd bungle it out on the base paths, too. He was picked off just before Goldy managed to draw a walk, which would have put Prado on second anyway. After Hill went down on a swinging strike, Miggy was hit by a pitch. Two on, two out. Can we do something here, guys? Well, Ross could hit into the fielder's choice, which saw Goldy out at third.
The Giants decided they were up for some drama in the bottom of the sixth. Posey led off by drawing the fourth walk of the day given up by Delgado. Panda scalded one to left-center for a double. The Giants thought they had a tied ballgame. Posey sped around the bases, and was headed for home. Pollock got to the ball and threw it perfectly to Pennington, who immediately relayed to Miggy. Out at the plate! Sandoval would move up to third when Pence grounded out to short. Thus would end the day of Randall Delgado, as Eury De La Rosa came in to get Belt out on one pitch.
After a seventh inning that saw a Parra walk followed by a Pennington GIDP and an Adam Eaton strike-out, Arizona decided they weren't going to force their bullpen to protect yet another one-run lead. Pollock led off the eighth with a weak ball back to the mound for the first out. Prado followed with a single that went off the glove of pitcher Sandy Rosario. This time, he stayed put and allowed the Goldschmidt walk to move him into scoring position. Hill followed with a single, this one going off of Crawford's glove.
At this point, Bochy climbed aboard his beloved relief pitcher merry-go-round and brought lefty Javier Lopez in to face Montero. Miggy would pop up to shallow center on a 3-1 count, leaving the bases loaded with two outs. Ugh. Not more of this, please. Not three games in a row with bases loaded and no runs scored. Bochy returned to the mound to bring in John Machi. This time, he out-clevered himself, though. Machi promptly gave up a two-run single to Ross. Finally! 3-0, Diamondbacks. Parra would end the inning with a ground out to first.
David Hernandez came in for the eighth, with the GDT holding its collective breath. At least he wasn't protecting a one-run lead anymore. And he came through, giving up only a walk to Scutaro.
But we still needed drama right? Well, Arizona decided to continue the TOOTBLANing ways in the top of the ninth. Both Pennington and Chavez grounded into 4-3 outs. Pollock then drew a walk to bring up Prado. After allowing Prado to take one ball, Pollock decided to break for second. You guessed it. Caught stealing to end the inning.
Brad Ziegler drew the short straw today, and came in for the save. A literal comedy of errors, it was. Pence chopped one back to the mound, but Ziegler muffed the play for an error. One on, none out. Belt hit a very slow ground ball to second, but Hill was unable to make the play. Belt on first with a single, and Pence on second. Two on, none out. Tanaka would then decide that inventive double plays should be the game theme. He hit into a fielder's choice, resulting in Belt being out at second and Pence scoring. Hill tried to double up Tanaka, who was never going to be out. The ball went sailing past Goldy on Hill's error. Tanaka took off for second, not realizing the ball had bounced right back to Goldy. Easily out at second in what was the silliest RBI this season. Crawford's infield single brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Jeff Francoeur. Frenchy was on the side of all that's good in the world, hitting into a fielder's choice to end the game. And, thus, Arizona continues to lead the division, and the Dodgers' hopes are dashed for another day!
See y'all tomorrow, when the Cubs visit Chase. Will Garza still be a Cubbie? Stay tuned...
Bells and whistles
A tense little Gameday Thread: it almost seemed we were scared to speak to each other, for fear of jinxing the shutout! Clefo just pipped Fangdango, by the odd comment in 93, with preston.salisbury in third. Also to be seen: AzDbackfanInDc, EzioExManAZ, GuruB, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, John Baragona, Majabe, Marc Fournier, PR151, The so-called Beautiful, TolkienBard, Zavada's Moustache, asteroid, azshadowwalker, cheese1213, coldblueAZ, cole8865, edbigghead, hotclaws, onedotfive, since_98, soco, wclemmons22 and xmet. Asteroid gets Comment of the Day, for this helpful make-up tip:
Cody needs to change his brand of eye black
He looks like Tammy Faye Baker applying mascara with a paint roller.
As azshadowwalker mentioned, the D-backs now get to take on the Cubs back at Chase for four games. Tomorrow night sees Tyler Skaggs take on Matt Garza (assuming he hasn't been traded).