Archie Bradley was everything Arizona fans could possibly have wanted for the Diamondbacks in his major-league debut. So was Clayton Kershaw.
Record: 3-2. Pace: 97-65. Chance on 2014: +2.
In my time here, there have been some really great contests I've been lucky enough to attend at Chase. Game 3 of the 2011 NLDS. Gonzo's #20 retirement, where Chris Young led off with one home-run and walked off with another. Tonight will be filed alongside those contests for sheer volume of unadulterated awesome: it was one of the most entirely enjoyable times I've had at the ball-park. Really, you could not have drawn things up more perfectly, if you had handed me a pen and asked me to script the night's proceedings.
- Hello Kitty bobblehead acquired? Check.
- Draft Room experienced? Check. [Review to follow next weekend, folks]
- SnakePitters met? Check [Shoutouts to Steve, Linda the lurker and Patrick!]
- Archie Bradley going above and beyond? Check.
- Clayton Kershaw pounded like a side of beef in Rocky Balboa's freezer? Check.
- LA beaten, series won, and we now go for the sweep tomorrow? Hell, yeah, check!
It certainly didn't seem likely that Bradley would break the five-inning curse in the early going: not that he was bad, more that he was simply throwing too many pitches. He got the outs, but the first time through the Dodgers order, the number of pitchers per plate-appearance were: 7, 7, 6, 9, 7, 2, 4, 4, 8. It looked like the Diamondbacks bullpen was going to be in for another long evening, especially in the fourth inning after a walk was followed by a double, to put runners on second and third, with one out. But Bradley regrouped, getting a huge strikeout of Andre Ethier (did you know he went to ASU) and a groundout to escape the jam.
Something seemed to click thereafter, almost as if he realized his stuff was good enough to play in the major leagues, and he didn'[ need to nibble around the edges of the plate. He struck out the side on 14 pitches in the fifth inning, and we wondered whether he would come out for a sixth, his pitch-count being at 93. As mentioned in the preview, that was already more than most recent 22-year-olds have thrown in their debut, but he took the mound again in the sixth. Bradley worked around a two-out walk to Adrian Gonzalez, and left the mound to a standing ovation, having thrown six shutout inning, allowing one hit, four walks and six strikeouts.
- Only two National League starters have debuted in such spectacular fashion since the Diamondbacks came into existence: curiously, both are Marlins, Josh Beckett in 2001 and Adalberto Mendez in 2010 both matching Bradley with six scoreless innings of one-hit ball.
- Bradley's Game Score of 72 has been surpassed twice in the NL by a debutant since the beginning of 2011: Collin McHugh had an 81 for the Mets in 2011, and Michael Wacha put up a 75 in 2013 for the Cardinals.
- It's tied for the highest Game Score in the first appearance by a Diamondback matching the 72 posted by Geraldo Guzman (who?) in 2000. [Brandon Webb had an 80 for his first start in 2003, but his first appearance was actually out of the bullpen, five days previously]
- His 112 pitches were the most by a National League makes his first appearance since 2010, when Thomas Diamond threw 122 for the Cubs. Let's perhaps try and not make a habit of that, shall we, considering Bradley is still only 22 years old?
Meanwhile, the offense chipped away nicely at Clayton Kershaw, particularly the top half of our order: slots 1-4 finished the night combining to go 8-for-15 with all six of our runs driven in, scoring four of them. Things got under way early, with A.J. Pollock and Ender Inciarte singling in the first, Pollock then being singled home by Mark Trumbo. The same duo also led off the third inning with singles [Bradley having got his first hit in the meantime, then been promptly picked off first to end the second!], a double-steal then allowing Paul Goldschmidt to make it 2-0 with a groundout..
The advantage was doubled in the fourth. Chris Owings may want his first hit of the season, but walked to lead things off, and a single from Tuffy Gosewisch put runners on the corners. Nick Ahmed walked, and after Bradley fouled out, Pollock's third hit of the night and an Inciarte groundout gave the Diamondbacks a four-run lead. You want icing? Let me suggest a slice of the seventh, where Pollock drew a walk to reach base for the fourth time, and Goldschmidt followed with his second home-run of the second, 411 feet into the left-field bleachers, chasing a sad Amish farmer off the mound, his streak of 24 consecutive games allowing three or fewer dead and gone.
Meanwhile, Brad Ziegler worked the seventh and eighth innings, getting five ground-balls and a K, and Randall Delgado posted a scoreless ninth, though did allow the night's second hit for Los Angeles. This is clearly not acceptable, Randall, and we will expect better going forward. All told, a two-hit shutout was the best collective pitching performance for Arizona against Los Angeles in Phoenix for almost exactly 14 years: on April 10, 2001, Curt Schilling tossed a complete-game performance, walking none and fanning 10. Yes, definitely a thoroughly satisfactory performance from all concerned.
Near 400 comments; might have expected more at Bradley's debut, but a good number of us were at the game! Not that this stopped asteroid from leading the way - she must have special season ticket wifi or something! - ahead of DbacksSkins and hotclaws. Also present: AJV19, Alfred E. Neuman, Arizona Eyebrows, AzDbackfanInDc, AzRattler, BIGredmc, BenSharp, Britback, Clefo, Cold Bleded, GuruB, James Attwood, JoelPre, MrMrrbi, PhxSunsFan4Life, Robert Merrill, SedonaRed24, The so-called Beautiful, Timmy.D, TucsonPete, Xipooo, Zavada's Moustache, azbaseballfan, benhat, coldblueAZ, dbrowell, freeland1787, jinnah, onedotfive, shoewizard and since_98.
Comment of the night to ZM, albeit with an honorable mention to Xipooo for his oversized first-pitch pic. We'll look forward to looking back at this game when Bradley is inducted into Cooperstown...
And so, we find ourselves going for the sweep tomorrow afternoon at Chase Field. Those are words I seriously did not expect to be writing at this point, when the series began. Arizona turns to Opening Day starter, Josh Collmenter, and will be looking to improve significantly on his performance there, while the hitters will have to solve the thorny problem which is Zack Greinke.