This perhaps counts as a bit of a surprise. I think quite a few people - myself included - expected this category to go to the 13-0 demolition job of the Dodgers in Los Angeles. That included the best hitting performance of the year, in J.D. Martinez’s four home-run game, and arguably the best pitching performance as well, Robbie Ray striking out 14 over 7.2 scoreless innings and flirting with a no-hitter. But it was likely not as dramatic as the Opening Day contest at Chase Field, where the never-say-Diamondbacks were born. They clawed their way back from three separate deficits, to snatch a thrilling walk-off victory, and edged the Dodgers’ game in this poll 37-34%.
There’s no denying, this game had everything - I mean, how often does a pitcher hit two home-runs... and still end up on the losing side? It didn’t look like it would be the case for a long while here. Madison Bumgarner retired the first 16 Diamondbacks he faced, and was 3-0 up, to that point, as Zack Greinke had been... Well, better than he had been on Opening Day 2016, but still not good, let’s be honest. Would any D-back step up and the perfecto? If you called Jeff Mathis... congratulations. Oh, and he did it with a triple. Nick Ahmed followed with an RBI single, and A.J. Pollock homered. MadBum went from perfection and a three-run lead to a no-decision in five pitches.
This game was just warming up. Bumgarner’s second homer, off Andrew Chafin, immediately gave the Giants the lead back, but a Paul Goldschmidt RBI single in the bottom of the eighth, tied the game back up at 4-4. That set the stage for the Arizona Diamondbacks debut of new closer, aspiring archer and crooked cap wearer, Fernando Rodney. His first appearance - indeed, his first batter - did not go as hoped, a leadoff triple coming in to score the go-ahead run for San Francisco on a sacrifice fly. Rodney then loaded the bases with one out, before getting a shallow fly off the bat of St. Posey, and a groundout ended the inning. But the damage had been done.
Brandon Drury and David Peralta went down meekly, and we were down to our final out, with a win probabilty of just 5.4%. But Mathis came through again, in the darkest hour, doubling before being replaced by a pinch-runner. Daniel Descalso delivered a game-tying RBI single, then A.J. Pollock got his third hit of the game to put runners on the corners. And Chris Owings got the biggest blow of all, getting the Diamondbacks’ fourth consecutive hit with two outs in the ninth inning, just over the Giants’ infield. Descalso crossed home-plate to send the sell-out crowd of 49,016 into delirium, and give Arizona their first ever walk-off win on any MLB Opening Day.
Finally, to answer my own earlier question, Bumgarner was the first pitcher to homer twice in a game his team lost since Jim Rooker in July 1969. It was that kind of day... Here’s the 20-minute condensed version of the game.
- 2006: Webb 1-hits the Cards, 9/9 vs. STL
- 2007: Comeback vs the Pirates, 5/19 vs. PIT
- 2008: Matinee miracle, 7/3 vs. MIL
- 2009: The game without end, 6/7 vs. SDP
- 2010: Your Arizona Diamondback-to-back-to-back-to-backs, 8/11 vs. MIL
- 2011: 10th-inning resurrection, 9/27 vs. LAD
- 2012: Comeback from six down, 4/8 vs. SFG
- 2013: 16-inning marathon, 4/3 vs. STL
- 2014: Killing Kershaw, 5/17 vs. LAD
- 2015: Archie Bradley debut vs LAD, crushing Kershaw, 4/11 vs. LAD
- 2016: Slaying Thor, 8/11 vs. NYM