|DETROIT TIGERS||ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS|
|Andrew Romine - CF||A.J. Pollock - CF|
|Jose Iglesias - SS||David Peralta - RF|
|Miguel Cabrera - 1B||Paul Goldschmidt - 1B|
|Nick Castellanos - 3B||Jake Lamb - 3B|
|Justin Upton - LF||Yasmany Tomas - LF|
|Mikie Mahtook - RF||Brandon Drury - 2B|
|James McCann - C||Chris Owings - SS|
|Dixon Machado - 2B||Jeff Mathis - C|
|Justin Verlander - RHP||Robbie Ray - LHP|
Winning the first game in a series hasn't been a problem for the Diamondbacks. It's been the others which have tended to be more problematic. Going back to the series against the Padres at Petco, the D-backs have opened five out of the six sets played with a victory - but overall, they're only 9-10, because they have a record of 4-9 in the games played after the first one. I'm not sure if this is a meaningful thing: with different starting pitchers, it's not as if opposing teams will be able to adjust, because they won't be seeing the same starter twice in a series. But as fans, it's getting a bit wearing. Yay! We have hope! Boo... Not so much...
Here's something that I know IS meaningless. Sunday's loss in Colorado was our first defeat this year when allowing five runs. We have a better record in those games (3-1), than when we allow four runs, having gone 0-3 there. In fact, we have a better record allowing six runs (2-2) than four. I'd be pretty sure this is simply the vagaries of a small sample size... except that it's what we saw over the entirety of the 2016 season as well. Our record allowing four runs (3-11) was a LOT worse than when allowing five runs (7-14), or even six runs (4-13). So perhaps it's not as meaningless as it seems: maybe there has been an "uncanny valley" of offensive woe there, when we give up four.
As for tonight, there was a time when facing Verlander would have struck fear into any team. Fortunately, that time was 2011, when he won the MVP and Cy Young in the American League. He's no longer that pitcher, with an ERA since the start of 2014 of 3.70 (an ERA+ of 108), though had something of a renaissance last season, finishing runner-up in the Cy Young voting. He is 2-0 in his career against the Diamondbacks, though Peralta and Goldschmidt are the only members of our starting line-up tonight, who took part the last time, in 2014. Vidal Nuno started that one for the D-backs and didn't get through five. We'll be hoping for better from Ray.