Record: 16-11. Pace: 96-66. Change on 2016: +4.
After last night’s devastating ninth inning loss, the D-backs needed to win to avoid a sweep and potential tail-spin. It seemed as if the forces of the universe were aligned against them, not least the most horribly blown call I’ve seen in 17 seasons of regular baseball watching. But improbably, Daniel Descalso was the hero, smacking a walk-off homerun in the 13th inning. It ended the longest scoreless game in Chase Field history, and was the longest shutout pitched by the D-backs since May 29, 2001, when we beat the Giants 1-0 in 18 innings. If there’s anything to momentum, this win should have recharged all the team energy sucked out by yesterday, and then some.
Through eight innings, the D-backs had out-hit the Rockies by a 6-2 margin, but hadn’t converted any of the resulting chances. Fortunately, neither had Colorado, and they spurned what was likely the best opportunity offered by either starter. That came in the top of the fifth inning, when Corbin lost control, issuing a pair of walks - one to Mark Reynolds - around a single, loading the bases with nobody down. However, he was able to escape, getting an infield fly for the first out, then got the pitcher to hit a soft ground ball to third, which Lamb converted into a force at home, then the ever dangerous Charlie Blackmon grounded out to Paul Goldschmidt.
That was virtually the only chance the Rockies had, with Corbin delivering his best start of the season. He dominated the top of the Colorado order, with Blackmon, reigning NL batting champion D.J. LaMehieu, Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez going a combined 0-for-12 against Corbin. He pitched into the seventh inning, getting the lead-off man out before departing, having thrown 99 pitches. His final line was 6.1 innings of shutout, two-hit ball, with two walks and six strikeouts. This was only the third game this year where our starter did not allow a run, following Robbie Ray’s outing against the Giants on Apr 11, and Patrick’s versus Cleveland, two days earlier.
The Diamondbacks’ hitters were finding things not much easier against German Marquez. Although they did get a few more hits, they weren’t able to get them when it mattered. Brandon Drury grounded out with men on the corners to end the first. We got a leadoff single in the second, and a leadoff double in the fourth, only for both men to be left there at the end of the inning. Matters weren’t helped by some poor pitch selection, such as Jake Lamb ending the fifth and Brandon Drury opening the sixth, both striking out while swinging at what would have been ball four. Goldschmidt had two hits, but the offense seemed to miss A.J. Pollock + Yasmany Tomas.
The Diamondbacks bullpen were completely amazing. Everyone bar T.J. McFarland and Fernando Rodney pitched, and tossed 6.2 scoreless innings of three-hit ball, with two walks and ELEVEN strikeouts. The total of 17 on the day was the most in slightly more than a year: the last time we did it, was against Pittsburgh on Apr 24, 2016. While the game went 13 innings too, that’s where similarities end. Our starter went three innings, we lost 12-10, and allowed 20 hits and eight walks there, compared to five and four here. Jorge De La Rosa was the pick, striking out the side in the eighth on 11 pitches, but credit also J.J. Hoover, Archie Bradley, Tom Wilhelmsen, Andrew Chafin...
And particularly Randall Delgado. When I saw him coming in, I must confess, my first thought was, “Game over, man - game over.” But he gave the team three scoreless innings when they absolutely needed them most. He allowed a hit and a walk, striking out four, and the resulting Win Probability of +44.2% was far and away (by more than ten percent) the best of Delgado’s entire career. Considering he came in with an ERA of 7.82, and likely holding the “Most likely to be voted out of the bullpen” totem, it was incredibly clutch. And it came in the wake of the bottom of the tenth inning, which left me wondering whether there was any point in playing on.
For we have a new entry at #1 in the “Worst Call of the Season” standings, and it’s going to take something really bad to beat it. A.J. Pollock singled with one out; David Peralta then hit a high chopper to Rockies’ second baseman LeMahieu. Apparently realizing it was going to be a tough play, LeMahieu instead ran into Pollock and flopped, allowing the ball to get past him. Pollock ended up at third, and the nearest umpire, Toby Basner at second, initially made no call. Bud Black then came out, the crew got together, and chief Jerry Layne then called Pollock out for interference, apparently saying he had blocked LeMahieu in the act of fielding the ball.
Somehow, A.J. Pollock—the potential winning run in the bottom of the 10th—was called out here. pic.twitter.com/tRJNQXnyqX— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) April 30, 2017
Except, there are two problems with this interpretation. Pardon my language here. I don’t swear often, but as shown above LeMahieu was nowhere near the fucking ball, and was also the one who initiated contact with Pollock. Worse still, according to the rules this kind of thing is a “judgment call”, and so not subject to review, even when it results in as obviously blown a call by the furthest umpire away. This is idiocy in the highest order, and until MLB sorts itself out - simply allowing umpires to take a look at replays in these cases, would be perfectly fine - things like this will make the game a laughing stock. The point is surely to get the calls RIGHT, judgment or not.
Instead of the winning run on third for Arizona with, one out and Goldschmidt at the plate, it was two outs and a runner on first. We didn’t score. After that, I was thoroughly convinced the D-backs were going to lose - and if they could do so as quickly as possible, it would likely be for the best. The agony dragged on, however. The D-backs loaded the bases in the bottom of the 12th, after Goldschmidt was plunked in the elbow, only for Jake Lamb to ground out. Make it stop: will no-one think of the children? Or, more importantly, the poor recapper?
Then in the bottom of the 13th, Brandon Drury legged out an infield single - which withstood a challenge by the Rockies. The much-maligned Daniel Descalso came up: he had already had a better day than expected, with a pair of hits. Maybe he can ground out and advance the runner into scori...
Well, that was unexpected and delightful - a complete contrast to the final inning last night, which felt more like a pre-ordained shitshow. The Diamondbacks somehow won a game in which neither team had a hit with runners in scoring position - we were 0-for-5, the Rockies 0-for-7. Descalso had three of our 11 hits, with two apiece for Goldschmidt and Pollock, even though the latter didn’t get into the game until after the end of regulation. Thank heavens there’s an off-day tomorrow, before the series against the Nationals starts, because the bullpen is going to need it. Hell, I could probably use it myself...
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Always On My Mind: Randall Delgado, +44.2%
On The Road Again: Corbin, +41.0%; Descalso, +20.9%; Pollock, +15.0%; Bradley, +14.7%; De La Rosa +11.3%
Folsom Prison Blues: Jake Lamb, -29.5%
Crazy: Iannetta, -21.1%; Peralta, -11.2%; Owings, -10.9%; Goldschmidt, -10.5%
The pitching staff ended up at +131.1%; if sustained, their best single-game WP since August 2013. We cracked 1,000 comments in the GDT too. Present were: AzDbackfanInDc, BigSmarty, EphBoston, FormerlyChelsea75, Gilbertsportsfan, GuruB, Hazzard21, I suppose I'm a Pessimist, Jackwriter, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, JoeyLewis, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, Mr Butterworth, MrMrrbi, Oldenschoole, Re Tired, SongBird, Sprankton, TylerO, Xerostomia, aldma, asteroid, blue_bulldog, catbat, gamepass, hotclaws, kilnborn, lg451, noblevillain, onedotfive, pcmonk, preston.salisbury and smartplays.
Generally, recappers are not allowed to award comment of the game to themselves. But, dammit, after a game like this, in which rules were made to be broken... So I’m giving it to me, for correctly calling Descalso’s multi-hit game and walkoff hit in the preview.
Fingers crossed: achievement unlocked! As noted, it’s off to Washington now, with the team having had their best April since 2008. Taijuan Walker will start in the first game, which will be Tuesday late afternoon, Arizona time.