Record: 33-22. Pace: 97-65. Change on 2016: +10.
At 4:40, this was the longest game of the season so far, by more than half an hour. And that doesn’t even include the extra 90+ minutes of rain delay. Factor that in, and this is the second Diamondbacks game in franchise history to take more than six hours from first pitch to completion. The other was the 18-inning 12-7 win over the Phillies in 2013. Which I also ended up having to recap. Whatever I did to anger the baseball gods, I can only apologize. They seem similarly angry with the D-backs’ hitters, who were 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position, before Chris Owings’s 14th inning RBI single, gave them their fourth lead of the game - the one they actually held.
Right from the start, the D-backs offense didn’t exactly inspire confidence with their clutch hitting. After Gregor Blanco led off with a double, and David Peralta followed with a walk, the pumps were primed for an early Arizona lead. However, Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and Chris Owings then proceeded to strike out. Neither team managed another base-runner through the first two innings. In the top of the third, Lamb made the Pirates pay for wildness, after Blanco and Goldschmidt had been walked. With two outs, he hit the pitch to right-center, past the despairing dive of Andrew McCutchen. Both runners scored, Lamb ending up on third.
Zack Godley got through the Pittsburgh order impeccably the first time, retiring 11 straight to start the game. But his control did seem a bit off, with Godley falling behind hitters a bit more than usual. In the fifth, he allowed a pair of two-out hits, and then his first fly-ball out, one which Peralta almost misplayed into an entry for our upcoming series “Great Outfield Gaffes of 2017”. There was no escape in the fifth, three of the first four Pirates getting hits, and two scoring to tie the game, before a double-play ended the inning.
The Pirates had gone to their bullpen, and it was a familiar face who came in: Daniel Hudson. If there was any nostalgic fellow feeling among the Diamondbacks hitters, it was short-lived. Goldschmidt cranked his 12th home-run of the year, to lead off the sixth, and Jake Lamb followed with a double off the wall, that nearly followed suit. A sacrifice bunt from Owings and a Chris Iannetta ground-out brought Lamb in to score, extending the D-backs lead back to a pair. Godley immediately gave one of those back, a leadoff walk coming around to score for Pittsburgh. Zack’s day ended after that: six innings of work, with three runs on seven hits and a walk, with six K’s.
Archie Bradley took over from Godley in the seventh, and got his first long relief outing since April 26th. He held the fort down, tossing two scoreless innings on a hit, with one K. Arizona had their chances to add on an insurance run in each of the remaining frames, but again, came up empty. Goldschmidt fouled out to end the seventh, with runners on the corners, then Owings’s one-out double in the eighth and Brandon Drury’s similar hit in the ninth, were both stranded without being able to cross home-plate. Time for the Fernando Rodney Experience (TM)...
And I will be checking “Very dissatisfied” on my customer survey form. He walked the Pirates’ lead-off man on four pitches, then walked the next man for good measure. To make matters worse, Goldschmidt committed a rare error on the sacrifice bunt play which followed, seeming to get caught in between going for the force at third, and the sure out at first. In the end, he got nobody - though that might have ended up being not so bad, as Rodney was then able to dial-up a double-play ball, albeit one which scored the tying run, effectively negating the error. A strikeout ended the inning, but it was Rodney’s third blown-save of the year, his first since Apr 29.
Neither side could score in the 10th inning. Pittsburgh came closest, with a two-out double in the bottom of the tenth. A no-pitch intentional walk followed, before Jorge De La Rosa was able to close it. The conditions by this point were getting steadily and considerably worse, however, and the 11th inning took place in a steady downpour. It looked like the Diamondbacks might sneak out with a win, because Nick Ahmed got his fifth home-run of the year, with two outs - off Johnny Barbato, the man who hit Iannetta in the head. We were almost able to add on, as Barbato was wild and loaded the bases on two walks and a hit, but Goldschmidt flew out to the warning track.
J.J. Hoover came in for our second save opportunity, and unfortunately, could do no better than Rodney. It looked pretty good to start with, as Hoover struck out the first two batters faced. Then, to enormous general dismay - I think maybe even Pittsburgh wanted it to be over by now - the Pirates then got a two-out homer of their own. We were tied back up at 5-5, and heading to the twelfth inning for only the second time this year (the other being the 13-inning 2-0 win over Colorado at Chase Field). At this point, the umpires decided enough was enough, and the tarps came out. We then sat around for an hour and a half.
Though when I say, “we”, I exempt just about everyone at the park from this. Because here’s how things looked at PNC, as things got back under way after the 93-minute rain delay.
With the Pirates out of both position players and using their final bullpen arms, it felt like advantage D-backs, especially after the 12th started with a Jake Lamb double. But as in the first inning, the next three batters couldn’t drive him in. T.J. McFarland came in for the Diamondbacks to pitch the bottom of the 12th, and retired Pittsburgh in order (albeit with a loud 3rd out). McFarland picked up his second career at-bat in the bottom half, as by now, the D-backs were down to just Jeff Mathis on the bench. After a quick inning, Torey Lovullo wanted to get a second frame out of T.J. Job done - around a two-out walk, in order to face (and strike out) the Pirates’ reliever.
The Diamondbacks were finally able to break through in the 14th. David Peralta led off with a single, and Goldschmidt should have joined him on the basepaths, except for a horrendous strike call on ball four. However, he advanced Peralta with a ground-out and, after an IBB to Lamb, Owings came through, punching a single through the infield to right, and making the score 6-5. Chris Iannetta struck out, becoming only the fourth D-back ever to go 0-for-7 - the last being Gerardo Parra on June 4, 2013 - and the first ever to do so with four strikeouts. Still, after his late-inning heroics on this road-trip, we’ll give him a pass.
Interestingly, Torey Lovullo opted to stick with McFarland for a third inning. We did still have Andrew Chafin and Tom Wilhelmsen in the bullpen at that point, but he was perhaps thinking towards the series in Miami. Ray’s complete game last night proved even more significant, in retrospect, giving everyone in the bullpen a rest day today. McFarland got a 1-2-3 14th to give the D-backs the win and the series. Rarely has a relief W been more appropriately awarded. Here’s Lovullo, with his thoughts after the game, via @FoxSportsAZ.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
For A Few Dollars More: T.J. McFarland, +45.0%
Dirty Harry: Lamb, +37.8%; Ahmed, +33.4%; Bradley, +24.0%;
Owings, +14.2%; De La Rosa, +13.1%
Space Cowboys: J.J. Hoover + Fernando Rodney, -31.1%
Any Which Way You Can: Iannetta, -23.8%; Fuentes, -18.1%
Just shy of 1,100 comments, though on a per-hour basis, it’s about the equivalent of 500 for a regulation game. The hardy souls present were AZSunDevilP, AzDbackfanInDc, AzRattler, BenSharp, BigSmarty, Cumulus Choir, DORRITO, DbacKid, Diamondhacks, FormerlyChelsea75, GuruB, I suppose I'm a Pessimist, Jackwriter, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Justin27, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, MrMrrbi, Muu, Nate Rowan, Oldenschoole, PaulGoldsmith, Renin, SongBird, Sprankton, Xerostomia, aj90, bbtng, catbat, coldblueAZ, ford.williams.10, frienetic, gamepass, hotclaws, kilnborn, makattack71, megnetic, noblevillain, onedotfive, piratedan7, preston.salisbury, ryeandi, shanmanhall, since_98, smartplays, thunderpumpkin87 and winger49.
Comment of the thread to ryeandi:
A cunning plan... The win gives the D-backs a May record of 17-11, which is their best for the month since 2011, when they were 19-10. It’s now off to Miami for the team, where Zack Greinke will take the mound for them tomorrow. I think we’ll all sleep well tonight!