Record: 31-19. Pace: 100-62. Change on 2016: +10.
Yes, you read that right: we’re already 10 games up on where the Diamondbacks were, 50 games into last season. In 2016, we had just dropped our fourth in a row, losing 10-3 to San Diego, and were just half a game up on the last-place Padres in the division. This year, we have the third-best record in all baseball. I was hoping for some improvement this season, but even allowing for the soft schedule we’ve played, this is startling stuff. Right now, it appears either Mike Hazen and crew are genius, or previous management were staggeringly incompetent. Though I guess there’s no reason it couldn’t be, a little of column A, a little of column B.
This one will be remembered more for what happen later on: from the last pitch of Zack Godley’s outing on, in fact. But it was another stellar start from the man who doesn’t perhaps look like an ace - he just pitches like one. Six shutout innings from Godley, reduced his season ERA below two, to 1.99. Coming on the heels of Robbie Ray’s seven shutout innings last night, it was the second time in eight days D-backs starters have fired back-to-back blanks, after Ray and Taijuan Walker did so against the Padres at Chase Field. It only happened once all last year (Ray, again, and Braden Shipley vs. the Mets, on August 10-11).
Tonight, Godley held a decent Brewers line-up to five hits, all singles, over his six innings, with one walk and six strikeouts. It was good to see him get the K’s, after managing only one last time out. He was cruising through five innings, and working efficiently enough too, but he suddenly seemed to lose the strikezone severely in the sixth inning. He was throwing more balls than strikes, walked a hitter with one out, and then allowed a two-out single to put men on the corners. He then bounced one up there that got away from Chris Iannetta, and the Very Large runner on third, Eric Thames, opted to come home.
Iannetta got to the ball quickly, shoveled it back to Godley covering the plate and... Let’s say, Godley applied the tag in a way that convinced the home-plate umpire, who emphatically called Thames out. Brewers’ manager (and former D-back hero, of course, Craig Counsell) appealed the decision and the headsets went on. New York said the call stood - fair enough, I’d say - much to the chagrin of Thames, Counsell and the vocal crowd at Miller Park - the second named getting himself ejected, as will inevitably happen if you keep arguing after the review decision has been handed down. Instead of a tied game, it was the end of Godley’s night, and he left with a 1-0 lead.
To rewind a bit, it was a lead entirely due to the efforts of Jake Lamb. He had cranked his 14th home-run of the season a very long way, into the second deck of the Miller Park bleachers with one out in the fourth innings. It was Arizona’s first hit, and one of only three we got off the Brewers’ starter. The game settled down into a pitching duel, with Lamb’s bomb the only run either man allowed. But the D-backs bullpen didn’t have their best day. Jorge De La Rosa’s recent struggles continued, as he allowed a run for the third outing in a row. It wasn’t on a bad pitch, but the second batter he saw golfed the ball to left center for a legit tying run, to the delight of the home fans.
Worse was to follow in the eighth, as our other left-hander, Andrew Chafin, allowed a lead-off walk, that came around for Milwaukee, to score the go-ahead run with one out. There was no more damage done, but D-backs were down to their last inning. After Yasmany Tomas grounded out, and Brandon Drury stared at three straight strikes, it was the last out. Chris Iannetta took a ball, then a strike, and got a high strike to his liking, promptly depositing it over the fence to tie the game with two outs in the ninth inning. It was his fifth homer, but undeniably his most crucial.
T.J. McFarland also allowed a lead-off walk, but unlike Chafin, got out of it with the help of a double-play, and we were into extra innings. Chris Owings got things started with a lead-off double in the 10th, advanced to third on a David Peralta groundout, and after Paul Goldschmidt was intentionally walked, came home on a wild pitch. Lamb then drove in an insurance run with an RBI double, to make it 4-2. Cue the Fernando Rodney Experience, which naturally had to make things interesting, a two-out walk bringing the tying run to the plate. But a painfully deep fly-ball nestled in Peralta’s glove, and the D-backs won their 10th game in the last 11.
Regrettably, Fangraphs appears to have been broken by the Brewers’ game-tying home-run, so we don’t have any final Win Probability for the game as yet. But in honor of the Duke, whose birthday it was today (John Wayne, I mean - this is not some obscure British aristocratic figure), I’m taking my guesses. Confirmation to follow tomorrow, I guess!
True Grit: Chris Iannetta, +LOTS
The Quiet Man: Jake Lamb, +QUITE A BIT%
The Conqueror: Andrew Chafin, -PLENTY%
The Greatest Story Ever Told: Jorge De La Rosa -SOME%
A thoroughly satisfactory GDT, with over 600 comments - and the usual pessimism proving unfounded as ever, it seems, this season! Those present were AzDbackfanInDc, AzRattler, BenSharp, BigSmarty, Cumulus Choir, DORRITO, DbacKid, Diamondhacks, GuruB, I suppose I'm a Pessimist, Jackwriter, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Joey Lewis, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, Nate Rowan, SongBird, The so-called Beautiful, Xipooo, asteroid, blue_bulldog, cheese1213, coldblueAZ, hotclaws, kilnborn, noblevillain, onedotfive and smartplays. Comment of the Night to the appropriate named I suppose I'm a Pessimist, for this #PredictionFail:
With Zack Grienke going tomorrow night (against former D-back, Chase Anderson), I think we’re all feeling relatively optimistic about out chances. It’s an afternoon game, with a first pitch at 1:10pm Arizona time, so set your schedules accordingly!