Record: 13-16. Pace: 73-89. Change on 2014: +5.
To put it mildly, the game did not start well for Chase Anderson. Four pitches into the game, two batters had reached and the Padres had a 1-0 lead. The first pitch he delivered resulted in a bunt single to third, where Yasmany Tomas was still apparently coming out of hibernation for the winter (or perhaps had seen his own shadow), and the second was banged back up the middle. Runners on the corners with no outs for San Diego, before the echoes of the "PLAAAY BAAAAAAALLLLL!" kid had died entirely away at the ballpark. An 0-1 pitch was dispatched to left for a sacrifice fly and a Padres' lead.
Anderson settled down after that, and the Padres rarely threatened. The closest they came to scoring again was with one out in the fifth, when a double ended up with the runner on third-base, after the incoming throw to second from Ender Inciarte pinged off the hitter's bat. However, Anderson struck out Cory Spangenberg - I wouldn't normally mention his name, but that's just such a fun one to say: Spangenberg, Spangenberg, Spangenberg - and Matt Kemp grounded out on the first pitch to strand the priestie beastie on third. Anderson went seven innings, holding San Diego to one run on five hits and two walks, with a pair of strikeouts.
And we needed him to be good, because the Diamondbacks were able to do very little against Tyson Ross. He faced the minimum the first time through the order, with the only base-runner a walk to Paul Goldschmidt with two outs in the first - and Goldie promptly got himself picked off first to end the inning. But with two outs in the fourth, Goldie got our first hit of the evening, singling to right. David Peralta then beat the shift, hitting the ball the opposite way to left, where it fell in front of an attempted diving grab by Justin Upton, skidded past the former D-back and went to the wall for an "RBI triple", suggesting the Coors Field scorer had escaped the snow there with a flight to Phoenix.
Further offense came from an unexpected source in the fifth inning, after Jordan Pacheco singled and advanced to second on a ground-out, after Nick Ahmed says another hit die in a frenzy of BABIP. For it was Chase Anderson himself who delivered the go-ahead blow, lining a hanging slider from Ross back past the pitcher into single, and allowing Pacheco to scurry home. This was a shock, since Anderson came into the game with a career line of .024/.070/.024; the resulting career OPS of .094 ranked second-to-last among all active players with at least 40 PA, coming in ahead only of Jon Lester's .000/.019/.000.
The Diamondbacks were unable to add on in the sixth, after another Goldwalk and Peralta single put runners on the corners, and Peralta then stole second to put two runners in scoring position. However, Yasmany Tomas then took strike three for the second time in the evening, though was arguably hard done by the call on that occasion. Chris Owings flied out, and that was it for the Arizona offense for a significant time, as the were held hitless over the next 3.1 innings after Peralta's single. Goldie took a walk and A.J. Pollock gave one a ride to the warning track in right, but that was about it
However, it wasn't enough to get Anderson his first win of 2015, the Diamondbacks bullpen coughing up the lead in the eighth inning. Oliver Perez gave up a lead-off double, who then advanced to third on a fly-ball to Inciarte. That was it for Perez, Chip Hale then turning to Brad Ziegler, who succeeded in getting Upton to ground to short, where Ahmed made sure the runner didn't try and score before throwing to first for the out. But if you want evidence baseball is a game of inches, the next at-bat shows it: an ugly defensive swing flared down the left-field line and dropped just fair and out of the reach of Peralta, for an RBI double. Another bloop followed, and we trailed 3-2.
As we headed into the ninth trailing by one, with the as yet unassailed Craig Kimbrel looming, it looked like a tough assigment. Addison Reed ensured it wouldn't be just tough, but Herculean, by allowing an insurance run on two hits in the ninth. Enter Kimbrel, riding a streak of 35 consecutive save appearances, and after Cliff Pennington and Chris Owings went down quietly. But Pacheco walked, Aaron Hill singled - and if you thought Anderson's offense was unexpected, how about a two-run game-tying double, off the best closer in the business, for career minor-leaguer Danny Dorn? Ask, and ye shall receive. Oh, who am I kidding. No-one even dared ask for that!
After a 1-2-3 inning from Randall Delgado in the 10th - crossing him off the list of possible starters for tomorrow - the Diamondbacks snatched further extra innings out of the jaws of victory. Pollock singled, and stole second, leading to Goldschmidt getting his fourth walk of the night. Peralta almost squeezed one back up the middle, but the shift led to it turning into a fielder's choice at second. Pennington then hammered one, but it was lined at the Padres' first-baseman, and with Peralta going on contact, it was an easy double-play. Quite why Peralta didn't advance on the first pitch, since the San Diego defense were conceding it, I don't know....
Neither team was able to score in the 11th, and Delgado then went out for a third inning in the 12th. It didn't go anywhere near as well as the first two. Justin Upton homered to lead things off, and another run came round to score, in part because Jordan Pacheco was showing all the defensive abilities of a waxwork behind home-plate. Ender Inciarte legged out a one-out single in our half of the innings, to bring the tying run to the plate and provoke the vaguest hope of another comeback, but Pollock and Goldschmidt struck out. Pity we couldn't have sent Dorn up there for one last hack...
This one is mostly on the bullpen: if Addison Reed had worked a clean ninth, for instance. But overall, it was a bad night for our relief corps, allowing a total of five runs on nine hits and two walks over five innings of work. Hard to win with that kind of production. Arizona was handsomely out-hit by San Diego, 14-9, so if we had won this one, it would have been a steal in many ways. Peralta had a pair of hits, Pacheco a hit and a walk, and Goldschmidt reached base safely five times, on a hit and four walks. His on-base percentage after 130 plate-appearances is now a staggering .454.
[Click for details, at fangraphs.com]
Dorn free: Danny Dorn, +51.1%
Dorn to be Wild: Anderson (pitching), +33.2%; Peralta, +14.9%; Anderson (batting), +12.6%
Still Dorn: Cliff Pennington, -37.1%
Dorn and out: Ziegler, -37.1%; Inciarte, -18.4%; Owings, -18.3%;
Delgado, -14.7%; Perez, -14.2%; Tomas, -13.7%;
Damn. That's a lot of negative WP to go around: seven Diamondbacks at -10% or worse. Quite a wild GDT, led by James Attwood, ahead of AzDbackfanInDc and JoeCB1991. Also taking part: BIGredmc, BulldogsNotZags, DbacksSkins, DeadmanG, Diamondhacks, Greatjake, GuruB, Jim McLennan, JoelPre, Makakilo, MrMrrbi, SenSurround, Xipooo, Zavada's Moustache, blue bulldog, catbat, cheese1213, coldblueAZ, ford.williams.10, freeland1787, gamepass, hotclaws, onedotfive, preston.salisbury, shoewizard and xmet. If we'd won, there'd have been a nine-way tie for Comment of the Thread: all those who wrongfully said "Game Over" before the ninth, but instead, it's ZM:
After the game, Danny Dorn was rewarded for posting over 50% in WPA tonight... by being optioned back to Reno. Thanks for that, Danny. They'll be calling up a a pitcher tomorrow to take the spot, but no word at this point as to who it might be. We'll look to salvage a split of the four-game series tomorrow afternoon at Chase, going up against the Padres' Andrew Cashner.