Record 1-0. Pace: 162-0(!). Change on 2016: +1.
They say there’s always the chance to see something you’ve never seen before at a baseball game. Today would be a great example. This was the first time ever - in over 140 years of baseball - that a pitcher hit two home-runs on Opening Day. Oh, yeah, and his team still lost, despite he and his fellow Giants combining for a K:BB ratio on the day of 12:0. For the D-backs came back three times, taking the lead for the first time on the very final pitch of the game, when Chris Owings did a reverse Gonzo, fighting a jam-shot bloop over the right-hand side of the infield for an RBI single. It gave the D-backs their first walk-off win on Opening Day in franchise history.
It was a victory that seemed thoroughly unexpected earlier on. In particular, take the bottom of the sixth inning. After David Peralta struck out to lead things off, Madison Bumgarner had retired 16 straight Diamondbacks since his first pitch, including eight by strikeout. That included a ten-pitch second inning, in which he fanned the side. He was so thoroughly dominating, being perfectoed seemed almost inevitable, and the Giants three-run lead felt about as impregnable as the Wall in Game of Thrones. But when the perfect game ended, it ended quickly, going from that to a 3-3 tie in the space of five pitches.
Of course, you can’t predict baseball, and it was the weakest hitter in the line-up - and I’m including Zack Greinke - who got things started, Jeff Mathis ending the perfect game with a triple to left. Admittedly, it was a bit of a Tulo triple, the Giants’ right-fielder booting it around for so long I thought he was Ronaldo. [It was only our catcher’s fifth career triple, now in his 13th MLB season] But it broke the ice, and Nick Ahmed immediately ended the shutout with an RBI single. Two pitches later, A.J. Pollock delivered Arizona’s first home-run of the season, and the game was effectively reset as we headed into the seventh inning.
But you want narratives? We got ‘em. Let’s review some of the storylines which have been concerning Diamondbacks’ fans this winter.
Zack Greinke’s velocity
It seemed acceptable. We’ll wait for the full report on this from Brooks Baseball, but the gun on Fox Sports Arizona was showing him as high as 94 mph, mostly 90-92. Not to say there weren’t struggles. His efficiency was not brilliant, to say the least. He was averaging over 20 pitches per inning early on, and his day ended after only five frames and 92 pitches. He allowed two earned runs on four hits and two walks with four K’s. On the other hand, his ERA is lower than MadBum, who homered off Zack, so more embarrassing than anything. And the other may have been instigated by a Jake Lamb bobble in the second. Speaking of which...
Jake Lamb can’t hit lefties
- 2nd inning, vs Bumgarner: Strike (looking), Strike (foul), Strike (swinging), Lamb struck out swinging
- 5th inning, vs Bumgarner: Ball, Strike (looking), Strike (foul), Ball, Ball, Strike (swinging), Lamb struck out swinging
- 6th inning, vs. Bumgarner: Strike (swinging), Strike (swinging), Foul, Ball, Strike (swinging), Lamb struck out swinging
- 8th inning, vs Blach: Strike (looking), Ball, Ball, Strike (foul), Lamb grounded into double play, second to shortstop to first,
Yes, that’s 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a double-play. Yes, Bumgarner is a BIT harder than your usual left-hander, thank heavens. However, it’s hard to think of how it could have gone much worse for Jake today. But he wasn’t the only one to have a forgettable day.
Yasmany Tomas = sunk cost
He had the platoon advantage against Bumgarner, but it didn’t exactly help, as he struck out in each of his three at-bats, seeing a total of 11 pitches. Then, in the eighth inning, with two on and the go-ahead run on third, he grounded back to the mound. But his most egregious play might have been his outfield route on a double in the fourth inning. I’m keen to see what the Statcast efficiency percentage was on that play, because here’s a rough approximation of what most people felt.
Statcast (TM) look at Tomas's route to that fly-ball. pic.twitter.com/hpJ20cnL4c— AZ SnakePit (@AZSnakepit) April 2, 2017
I think it’s safe to say that this game will not exactly have calmed any doubts about the effectiveness of our relief corps. Here’s the combined line for the Arizona bullpen this afternoon:
D-backs Bullpen: 4 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO
That won’t get it done.
Tom Wilhelmsen and Fernando Rodney looked particularly shaky in their Diamondbacks debuts, each allowing a run. Rodney was brought in preserve a ninth-inning tie, but that lasted two batters, and he then loaded the bases before escaping, after an inning that included two hits, two walks, no K’s and a pair of wild pitches. On the basis of this afternoon, I would put the over/under on him being relieved of closer responsibilities at the end of April. On the positive side, Jorge De La Rosa and J.J. Hoover flashed some good stuff, but Arizona were helped out by San Francisco making outs at third (on a SB, which won Torey Lovullo his first review) and first, a pick-off by Andrew Chafin which withstood review.
The only thing which saved the game for the D-backs, was the Giants’ bullpen being even worse. They also allowed seven hits and three earned runs, but worked only 1.2 innings. After Bumgarner’s second home-run, off Chafin, had given them a 4-3 lead in the seventh, the D-backs tied things up in the bottom of the eighth, as Pollock, Chris Owings and Paul Goldschmidt got consecutive singles to lead things off, Goldie’s just squirting through the left side of the infield to score A.J. It would have been nice to have taken the lead, except there then followed Lamb’s double-play and Tomas’s tapper back to the mound, so that was it.
In the ninth, it looked like the Giants’ new $60 million closer, Mark Melancon, would get his first save, as he retired Brandon Drury and Peralta, leaving Mathis the only man standing between the D-backs and defeat. But the catcher cracked a double into the left-center gap, and Daniel Descalso had a Diamondbacks’ debut to remember, coming off the bench for a pinch-hit RBI single that tied the game. Pollock picked up his third hit of the game, putting runners on the corners, and Owings was able to muscle a pitch just over the infield for our fourth consecutive hit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, sealing a thoroughly unexpected victory in front of a full house at Chase.
Bells and whistles
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
The Undertaker: Chris Owings, +43.1%
Hulk Hogan: Pollock, +38.2%; Goldschmidt, +20.3%; Mathis, +18.8%
The Great Khali: Fernando Rodney, -28.3%
Doink the Clown: Lamb. -26.5%; Peralta, -19.1%; Tomas, -18.7%; Chafin, -12.3%
Of course, the guy with the worst Win Probability is the one who ends up getting the W by his name. Because, baseball...
Unsurprisingly, a massive turnout in the GDT. The roll-call is: 4 Corners Fan, Arizona CardinalBacks, AzDbackfanInDc, DbacKid, Diamondhacks, EphBoston, Fangdango, FormerlyChelsea75, GuruB, Hazzard21, I suppose I'm a Pessimist, Imstillhungry95, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, MichaelMcD831993, Mike Bates, MikeDavisAZ, Monsterdemo, MrMrrbi, Oldenschoole, Skii, Sprankton, Steven Burt, TheGoldenSombrero, Xerostomia, aldma, asteroid, azshadowwalker, blue_bulldog, dbrowell, gallo del cielo, hotclaws, hventure, luckycc, noblevillain, onedotfive, preston.salisbury, repre, shoewizard, soco, thunderpumpkin87 and tommyt_16. A bevy of Sedona Red comments to choose from: I’m going with this
There’s a day off tomorrow, and I don’t think there can be much argument that we all need it! We reconvene on Tuesday, with the second in this four-game set. ish95 will have quite the act to follow for his recap.
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