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Arizona Diamondbacks 1, San Diego Padres 5: Left behind

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The D-backs’ struggles against left-handers continues.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 26-19. Pace: 94-68. Change on 2016: +6.

In somewhat obscure baseball stats, there’s a thing called a “Maddux’ - a complete-game in under 100 pitches. It was named, obviously enough, after Greg Maddux, who performed the feat 13 times in his career. It’s kinda rare. Indeed, going into this afternoon’s game at Petco, it had only been done 12 times against the D-backs in their franchise history. The last such was by Yusmeiro Petit for the Giants in September 2014, when he needed only 84 pitches to complete his outing. Indeed, Petit also had the Maddux before that against Arizona, his near-perfecto the previous September.

Make it 13 Madduxes now, for Clayton Richard took 96 pitches to mow down the Diamondbacks in the series finale. The only damage was Chris Iannetta’s solo home-run in the third inning, on the very first pitch he saw coming back off the DL (below). Otherwise, the offense was stifled, managing four other hits, all singles, no walks, and had just one at-bat the entire afternoon with a runner in scoring position. It was just the latest case of what has become something of a worrying trend: this team’s struggles against left-handed pitching. For Arizona are now 7-8 when there’s a southpaw starting for the opposition, compared to 19-11 facing a right-hander.

This has been a particular problem on the road, where the D-backs are now 1-6 versus lefties, their sole win coming against Rich Hill of the Dodgers on April 16 - and he had to leave the game after only three innings with a blister problem. Across all seven games, Arizona has scored a total of just nine runs, with the starters in question having a collective line as follows:
LHP at home vs. AZ: 46 IP, 35 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 11 BB, 47 SO, 1.57 ERA
Hill is the only left-handed starter to allow more than one run against us in their own park this year, and Gio Gonzalez is the only such pitcher to walk more than two.

Today’s contest saw a steady procession of what might charitably be called “getaway day at-bats.” Unlike Friday and Saturday, there would be no first-inning tacos here; you probably won’t have had time to order tacos, as the D-backs went down in order, on 10 pitches. That set the tone: Richard’s pitch count per innings the rest of the way were: 10, 9, 8, 12, 18, 13 and 12, before achieving escape velocity with a six-pitch ninth. Particularly keen to get on the flight back to Phoenix were the lower half of the order: Yasmany Tomas, Brandon Drury, Jake Lamb and Iannetta saw a total of just 36 pitches over their 13 trips to the plate, going 2-for-13 with five K’s.

Early on, it didn’t seem like that might be a problem. Iannetta’s blast gave the D-backs the lead, and Zack Godley was perfect the first time through the order. That ended with one out in the fourth, on a bloop single down the right-field line, but the bases were emptied as the runner turned too wide towards second and Chris Owings threw behind him for an easy out. A two-out walk was also erased by a TOOTBLAN, Godley picking the runner off at first-base, and so he had still faced the minimum through four innings.

The fifth is where it all came undone, beginning with a solo home-run that tied the game. It apparently unsettled Godley as he fell behind the next batter, and allowed a hard-hit double. But thereafter, it was death by a thousand cuts, as the Padres blooped, bobbled and butcher-boy’d their way through the rest of the inning. A 15-hopper up the middle gave them the lead, and another bloop down the right-field line put men on second and third. Richard then had a couple of extremely ugly hacks, before poking the ball through the right side of the infield to drive home San Diego’s third run of the inning.

It could have been worse, however. Their leadoff man then attempted to bunt, but barely got the ball off home-plate, and Iannetta was able to tag the man coming down the line from third. An infield squibber off the end of the bat loaded the bases for Wil Myers, but the D-backs caught a break as he lofted the ball down the right-field line in foul territory. It was from certain whether Owings would have been able to catch it, but he never got the chance, as a fan clearly leaned over the wall and caught the ball. The umpires ruled fan interference, and the call stood, despite a challenge from Padres’ manager Andy Green, allowing Godley to escape the jam.

Zack ended up going seven innings, with those three runs allowed, scattering eight hits and a walk, with just the one strikeout. In a curious decision, leftie T.J. McFarland was sent in by Torey Lovullo for the eighth, even though he didn’t see a left-handed batter until his fourth man. By that point, two were on base, though he didn’t get help from the defense: Nick Ahmed five-holed a grounder, and Jake Lamb double-clutched a potential double-play ball. McFarland, too, failed to make a play, with a weak shovel pass attempt home, on another Padres’ squibber with the bases loaded. That scored a run, and a sacrifice fly put this one out of reach, at 5-1.

The defeat, combined with wins for both the Rockies and Dodgers, loses Arizona the ground they made up yesterday, and they sit two games back in the National League West once more. Despite the disappointing result today, it was still their first road series win of the season, and keeps them currently in a wild-card spot, two games clear of the Cardinals.

Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Rocky III: Chris Iannetta, +7.8%
Inspector Gadget: Zack Godley, -13.0%

Thanks to those who popped into the Gameday Thread, which would be: Cumulus Choir, DORRITO, DbacKid, Gilbertsportsfan, GuruB, Hazzard21, I suppose I'm a Pessimist, Jackwriter, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, JoelPre, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, Oldenschoole, Re Tired, Renin, Ubersnake, aldma, blue_bulldog, fandbacks, hotclaws, makattack71, onedotfive, shoewizard, since_98, smartplays and winger49. Nothing got more than two recs, so the comments were clearly as entertaining as the game!

It’s back to Chase Field after this brief road-trip, for an equally brief home-stand, consisting of three games against the Chicago White Sox. That gets under way tomorrow night at 6:40pm, with Zack Greinke taking the mound for the D-backs.