Record: 42-26. Pace: 100-62. Change on 2016: +13.
I’m a little surprised to realize that the Diamondbacks are now 8-6 in games where Patrick Corbin has started. It feels like it should be worse than that, somehow. But we’ll take that from our “fifth starter”. Today, it seemed Initially as if both teams were playing in a way designed to appeal to the attention span of their new audience on Facebook. The first three innings were completed in only 70 pitches combined - 38 for Aaron Nola, and 32 for Corbin. Nola’s was perhaps the more remarkable, considering that he put the leadoff man aboard all three frames. Gregor Blanco singled to lead off the first, while Jake Lamb and Patrick Corbin walked to start their innings.
However, there was nothing doing for the Diamondbacks through three, not even in the second, when Chris Owings followed Lamb by reaching on an error, to put two on with nobody out. The next three outs there took just seven pitches. Jeff Mathis ended the inning in particularly ignominious fashion, being unable to avoid running into his own chopper at the plate, and being called out on batter’s interference.
The D-backs finally broke through in the fourth inning, again after putting two on with no outs. Lamb and Chris Owings singled, and both moved up on a Brandon Drury groundout. The first run scored on another groundout, this one off the bat of Daniel Descalso, and Jeff Mathis then delivered his first RBI in more than a month (since his May 15 home-run). He came through with a single back up the middle, snapping Mathis’s 0-for-21 streak of futility.
Corbin didn’t quite deliver the shutdown inning you would want after being staked to a lead, though having got through the first frame with allowing his customary crooked number, I guess we should cut him some slack. Having been retired in order the first time through the Phillies lineup, their hitters made some adjustments, and a triple to the first man up in the fourth got them going. The runner came home on a groundout, but Corbin was able to strand a very hard-hit two-out hit, which clanked on the fly off the outfield wall for a very long single. That kept the score 2-1 in Arizona’s favor at the end of the fourth inning.
The Phillies then tied it up on the fifth, using Corbin’s nemesis the home-run ball. His outing in San Diego ended a streak of six consecutive games allowing a homer - a total of 11 over the 31 innings pitched there. In Corbin’s defense, the ball tonight barely crept into the first row of seats above the short right-field porch at Citizens’ Bank Park. It could well have been a fly-ball out at Chase Field. In the sixth, he was then hurt by Jake Lamb clanking a ball off his glove, setting up a first-and-third, one out situation. Corbin got a shallow fly ball for the second out, but was unable to close the deal. and a double off the wall allowed both runners to score, making it 4-2 Phillies.
Corbin’s day was done. His final line wasn’t too bad: two earned runs (in addition to the two unearned ones) over six innings, on five hits, with no walks and five strikeouts, and an economical 84 pitches. But, as in San Diego, he was facing one of the weakest line-ups in the majors, so I’m not inclined to claim we’re anywhere near out of the woods yet. The D-backs then got Corbin off the hook, and it only took two batters. Pinch-hitter Jeremy Hazelbaker just legged out an infield hit, and Blanco then took benefit of the short porch for his second home-run of the year (below). Two more hits followed, and a sacrifice fly from Jake Lamb gave Corbin the chance of a W.
Andrew Chafin, one of our most reliable relievers, with a sub-two ERA this year, came in to protect the 5-4 lead in the bottom of the seventh. It did not start well: he threw only two strikes in his first eleven pitches, though fortunately, Philadelphia chose to bunt between the two walks. Chafin recovered to strike out a left-hander, and Torey Lovullo was not messing around. Archie Bradley was called for, and ended the inning with an emphatic strikeout on a 99 mph heater. The pitch came after both he and Mathis were half way back to the dugout in the belief they’d had a called strike three. I get the feeling this home-plate umpire may be recognized on Wednesday.
Interestingly, Lovullo let Bradley bat for himself in the top of the eighth inning. It was a potentially brave decision in a one-run game, and one which sheds some light on just how highly the manager rates Archie’s arm. He came out and delivered in the bottom of the eighth, retiring Philadelphia in order. Arizona did have a chance to get an insurance run in the ninth, after David Peralta tripled with one out, but they were unable to get the Freight Train into the depot. That brought on the Fernando Rodney Experience. Nine pitches later, it was done. Rodney has faced the minimum 18 batters this month: his only base-runner allowed, a walk on June 10, was caught stealing.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Geronimo: Archie Bradley, +23.3%
Sitting Bull: Blanco, +22.1%; Rodney, +19.7%
General Custer: Patrick Corbin, -24.1%
Thanks to those able to sneak off work early and enjoy another win. Those would be: AzDbackfanInDc, BenSharp, BigSmarty, DORRITO, FishOnEmm, GuruB, Jackwriter, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Joey Lewis, Justin27, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, PaulGoldsmith, Renin, aldma, asteroid, blitzred1, coldblueAZ, gamepass, hotclaws, kilnborn, noblevillain, nolanriley13, since_98, smartplays. Comment of the night to AzDbackfanInDc, who finally had one of his siren predictions come true. Raising his average for the year to 1-for-333. :)
The win keeps Arizona up with Los Angeles, and it looks like they’ll both remain just behind the Rockies, who are now leading the Giants at Coors. Having stolen what looked like the rockiest match-up for the D-backs, we’ll see if we can take the series tomorrow. That game starts at 1:05pm Arizona time, andZack Godley will be starting for us.