Record 38-26. Pace: 96-66. Change on 2016: +11,
This was the Diamondbacks 22nd comeback win of the season, meaning they’ve trailed at some point in 58% of their victories this year. For context, they’ve blown only a dozen leads, and MLB average is 48% of wins being comeback ones. It has been the fourth and fifth innings which have been the engine-room for the team’s success. When trailing after three, the D-backs actually have a winning record, at 11-10 - the average MLB team wins barely one in four (27.1%). When behind after four innings, as tonight, Arizona are now 10-13. That 43.5% win percentage is almost double the MLB average for that situation (22.5%).
Certainly, I know as a fan, that I don’t have the same sense of gloom and doom if the 2017 Diamondbacks falls behind. A big part of this, is that our pitching staff has been very good at not letting games get out of hand: They are the sole team in the majors not to have conceded any double-digit games so far: every other franchise has at least two. Last year’s Nationals took until game #99 to do so. Since the end of the 1998 season, the only other NL team to go deeper into a season without allowing 10+ runs, was the 2004 Dodgers, and their 67 games is within sight for the D-backs.
Tonight, it was Zack Godley who was steering the ship, and delivered another, typically Godley-esque start. A little less in the way of strikeouts than usual: just the four, which is his second-lowest tally on the season. There were more fly-balls than normal, with the nine ground-balls also being his second-lowest figure. But he was throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters (18 first-pitch strikes to the 24 batters faced), and as noted in the preview, continued his remarkably efficiency. His 6.2 innings required only 80 pitches, which was actually Godley’s shortest outing of the season, despite being longer by IP than average. He’s now down to only needing 13.8 pitches per inning.
The teams traded zeroes for the first three innings, the D-backs being unable to take advantage of some early wildness by the Brewers’ Junior Guerra. He walked Paul Goldschmidt with two outs in the first, then uncorked a wild pitch, but Goldschmidt was picked off second to end the inning. Oops. Walks #3 and #4 by Guerra came to open the bottom of the third, including one to Godley. But five pitches later, the inning was over. David Peralta swung at the first pitch, and though he hit it hard, the CF was able to snag it. Goldschmidt then hit into a double-play, to kill his second rally in as many times up.
The Brewers then took the lead, and did so quickly. Two pitches with two outs in the top of the fourth, and it was 2-0 to Milwaukee. A Godley pitch was sucked into the gravitational well and nailed Jesus Aguilar in his significant stomach, and the next offering, at the top of the strike-zone, was tomahawked into the left-field bleachers by Hernan Perez. That was the last of only two hits allowed by Godley, and there was only one base-runner for Milwaukee the rest of his outing, a one-out walk in the fifth. Godley was charged with two runs over his 6.2 innings, on two hits, a walk and the hit batter, with a quartet of strikeouts.
Arizona got on the board in the fifth, courtesy of Rey Fuentes. He shot a pitch to left, and Eric Thames - not a natural left-fielder - made an ill-advised slide for it. The ball squirted through, and if the CF hadn’t been backing up, Fuentes might have circled the bases. Godley then knocked a ball into the hole at shortstop, and Fuentes came home. Though he was initially called out, umpire Tripp Gibson blew the play in two different ways. Firstly, the Brewers’ catcher didn’t allow Fuentes anything like a lane to reach home, and secondly, Rey was able to get around the catcher anyway and slap the dish before being tagged. The review was a formality, and cut the margin to one.
The team’s fondness for two-out magic then came through in the bottom of the sixth. To that point, we had only managed three hits. Chris Owings made it four with a single, and took second after Guerra apparently failed to realize the Brewers’ first-baseman was playing behind the runner and threw over to a covering fielder who wasn’t there. Perhaps it rattled the pitcher? Because the very next offering from him was eagerly accepted by Brandon Drury, who turned it into his sixth home-run of the season, a two-run shot (below) which gave the Diamondbacks the lead.
That was the ballgame. The D-backs streak of home taco deliveries ended. The most serious threat they mounted thereafter was Owings’s lead-off double in the eighth, but he was stranded on third. Fortunately, the Arizona bullpen was on solid form. I was a little surprised to see Torey Lovullo go to the bullpen so early, given Godley’s pitch count. He brought in Andrew Chafin, and the Brewers immediately countered with a right-hander, but Chafin got it done, to end the seventh. Archie Bradley worked a perfect eighth, setting the stage for the Fernando Rodney Experience, going up against the heart of the Milwaukee order.
It’s never easy, is it? In this case, Rodney walked the first man he faced, putting the tying run on base with no outs. He then got Thames to K, and the combo of Chris Iannetta and Drury gunned down the runner when he tried to steal. It was a huge momentum swing: rather than the tying run in scoring position with one out, it was at the plate with two down. A groundout to Goldschmidt secured the save for Rodney, and the win for Arizona. It was a much-needed one, with the Dodgers and Rockies both also emerging victorious, and sets up an intriguing rubber game at Chase Field for tomorrow afternoon.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
The Good Witch of the East: Brandon Drury, +26.6%
Munchkins: Rodney, +17.4%; Godley (pitching), +16.3%; Bradley, +12.6%; Godley (hitting), +11.2%
The Wicked Witch of the West: Paul Goldschmidt, -14.3%
A Flying Monkey: David Peralta, -13.5%
Thanks to those who appeared in the GDT, rather than being at Chase Field - and there were over forty thousand there, the best June crowd since 2013. The broadcast said there were five thousand walk-up sales, which is a good sign. Meanwhile, present here were: BobDolio, Cumulus Choir, DORRITO, Diamondhacks, Gilbertsportsfan, GuruB, I suppose I'm a Pessimist, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Joey Lewis, Justin27, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, MrMrrbi, Oldenschoole, SongBird, aldma, asteroid, catbat, coldblueAZ, hotclaws, kilnborn, makattack71, onedotfive and smartplays. Comment of the night to GuruB for his reaction to the Goldschmidt walk:
Tomorrow, we have a fascinating face-off between Chase Anderson and Robbie Ray, both of whom have been almost untouchable of late. Take the under on runs. Particularly on the Brewers’ offense, hopefully! First pitch a little after one, it should be fun.