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2016 Arizona Diamondbacks Game of the Year: Slaying Thor

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Probably the best all-round D-backs performance, is now officially winner of the 2016 ‘Pittie for best game.

Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The voting

  1. Biggest shutout: 9-0 @ Mets, August 11 - 44%
  2. Biggest comeback: 9-8 vs. Braves, August 22 - 23%
  3. Best pitching performance: 3-0 vs. Cardinals, April 28 - 11%
  4. Best all-round performance: 7-2 @ Cardinals, May 22 - 8%
  5. Longest win by time: 10-9 vs. Braves, August 24 - 7%
  6. Best offensive performance: 14-4 @ Nationals, September 26 - 7%

The preview

It has been a while. Indeed, the last time the Diamondbacks even had the chance of a sweep, going into the final game, was the two-game series in Toronto, all the way back on June 22. The last actual sweep was the one in Philadelphia, which immediately preceded that series, and was also the last time Arizona won as many as three games in a row (their win streak reaching five). Against this, we have the fiendishly early nature of this morning’s game, especially after last night’s extra-inning affair. I’m having to set my alarm to bring you this. I hope you are appreciative.

The first two games of the series had already gone to Arizona, Zack Greinke winning the opener 5-3, then Oscar Hernandez getting his first career home-run in the 11th inning, as the Diamondbacks won 3-2. But in the series finale, we were going up against Thor himself, Noah Syndergaard, who came into the afternoon’s contest (or morning, for those of us still in Arizona!) with a 2.64 ERA over his 22 starts in the season to that point.

The game

All-round, this was an excellent performance. Every starter got on base at least once, including pitcher Braden Shipley, who drove in a run and stole a base, both career firsts in the majors. After he and Syndergaard had exchanged three scoreless innings, the Diamondbacks got to Thor for three runs in the top of the third. Socrates Brito, Tuffy Gosewisch and Shipley, each delivered RBI hits with one out in the inning, with Tuffy’s hit was his first (and to this date, only!) career triple, perfectly placed past the lunge of the right-fielder, before caroming around in the corner, for a three-bagger which didn’t ever require a slide from Gosewisch.

It was small beer compared to the sixth inning however, as the D-backs took Jon Niese behind the woodshed, having driven Syndergaard from the game. Gosewisch got the party started with a lead-off home-run, and after Shipley was retired, a single to Jean Segura and walks to Michael Bourn and Paul Goldschmidt loaded the bases. A passed ball scored a run, then Jake Lamb was walked to re-load the bags, before Chris Owings emptied them with a triple. He came home on a sac. fly by Brandon Drury. That completed a glorious six-run sixth inning, one of the biggest frames of the year.

The D-backs also ran wild, stealing four bases - including two by Goldschmidt in the same inning - to give them a team record 13 for the three-game series. Meanwhile, Shipley was having easily his best game of his young career, tossing seven shutout innings for the Diamondbacks, allowing just three hits (all singles) and a walk, while striking out seven. The resulting Game Score of 77 was his highest for the year by a full dozen points, and was tied for sixth overall by a Diamondback in 2016. You know it’s a blowout when you feel no strain about Dominic Leone in the ninth. Though he let the first two hitters reach, he got a game-ending ground-ball double-play to complete Arizona’s first road sweep since the four-game one in Philadelphia, June 17-20.

Odin: Braden Shipley, +23.4%
Balder: Goldschmidt, +14.8%; Gosewisch, +14.0%
Loki: Jake Lamb, -14.9%

The aftermath

While the Mets did make it into the playoffs, they were one and done, losing to the Giants in the National League wild-card game. Getting swept by the Diamondbacks at home certainly was part of the reason they ended eight behind the Nationals - New York were a combined 2-11 against Arizona and Colorado. But it was as much a question of timing as anything: the Mets basically had a season bookended by two good months. They were 33-18 in April and after Sep 1, but went 54-57 over the four months in between - the D-backs caught both home and and away series in August, and this road sweep was part of a spell where the Mets lost 13 of 16 at Citi Field.

All ‘Pitties since 2006