Record: 53-39. Pace: 93-69. Change on 2016: +14.
It was interesting to hear Steve Berthiaume describing the Braves’ new home in Suntrust Park this afternoon. It was utterly glowing - I noted in particular his use of the phrase “state-of-the-art,” perhaps a subtle attempt to connect it with the decrepit sinkhole which is Chase Field [“state-of-the-art” being a term of contention in the current spat between the team and the stadium district]. But somehow, I think the D-backs will be more than glad to see the back of it, having lost all three games here this weekend, with today’s loss the most lop-sided of all.
While it took the bullpen to lose the first two contests, it took Zack Godley three pitches to give Atlanta a lead they never relinquished. It’s probably my fault for mentioning in the preview how he hadn’t allowed more than three runs in a start this year. Though in my defense, I did specifically point to Godley’s low BABIP as a potential area of regression. And, lo and behold, that was at .375 this afternoon. But it was the balls OUT of play - the three-run homer to Matt Kemp and a solo shot to Matt Adams - which were the real destroyers today. Godley even set a career-high with nine strikeouts, not that he’ll want to be remember this game overall.
Before those home-runs put the Braves up 6-0, I had a nice little paragraph all written about how the second inning summed up the Diamondbacks’ problems during the current slump. Godley struck out the lead-off man swinging, but he reached base as Jeff Mathis couldn’t keep the pitch in front of him. One out later, with the runner on second, Dansby Swanson hit the ball into the hole at short. Ketel Marte made a good play, but the ball took a weird long-hop, skidding below the glove of Paul Goldschmidt at first and past him into the dugout. Instead of two outs and a man on third, it became Atlanta’s second run.
Their first, as noted, came quickly. Ender Inciarte singled on an 0-1 pitch, and Brandon Phillips banged the first offering he saw to the wall in left-center for an RBI double. I’m left to wonder what might have been, had Dave Stewart sent A.J. Pollock to the Braves rather than Inciarte, in that ill-fated trade for Shelby Miller. Because since then, Inciarte has been cheaper and more productive - a good part being Pollock’s injury issues. Here are their numbers for 2016-17, excluding today:
Inciarte: 220 games, .298/.352/.395, 97 OPS+, $3.2 million, 6.2 bWAR
Pollock: 57 games, .280/.338/.436, 95 OPS+, $10.25 million, 1.6 bWAR
There’s also the weirdness that the team is 21-25 in games where Pollock appears; 32-14 when he doesn’t. I have no explanation for this.
Six down by the end of the third, this one was a rare blowout loss. While the team has lost eight of the last nine, there has only been one other game this month (the 7-0 loss to the Reds at Chase Field) where the team didn’t have either the lead at some point, or the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning. Today instead became the seventh loss with a 5+ run margin this season for Arizona - though worth mentioning we have posted seventeen such victories. Here though, all we could manage was a fourth-inning RBI single from Goldschmidt, who now has a career best 15-game road-hitting streak, according to the broadcast. He had half our four hits, and a walk.
Other positives were hard to find in this one. Godley did at least get through six innings, rather than forcing Torey Lovullo to go to the bullpen. We ended up only needing to use T.J. McFarland, who tossed two hitless innings, getting his ERA down to 2.22. With an off-day tomorrow, that should ensure everyone is available for what becomes a rather important series in Cincinnati, in terms of stopping the bleeding. Though inevitably, there were still the expected fan over-reactions. I was particularly amused by a suggestion that we maybe need to break out the paper-bags for avatars. Yeah. For a team 14 games above .500 and in a playoff spot. Have fun with that.
Concerned? Hell, yes. I want to see the losing streak ended as much as anyone. But for context: we could lose every game for the next week, getting swept both in Cincinnati and by Washington, and even if the Cubs won all their games, we’d still own a wild-card slot. This has been an extraordinarily poor couple of weeks. But these 14 games in no way come close to negating the excellent play of the Diamondbacks over the first 78 games. That’s a much better measure of who we are to this point. But the sooner we get back to playing that way, the happier we’ll all be, no doubt about it.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Ginger: Paul Goldschmidt, +5.6%
Rogered: Zack Godley, -31.0%
Hey, at least the roll-call tool is back working again. So, there’s that... This allows me to tell you that present in this afternoon’s thread were: Anachronistic1, AzDbackfanInDc, BigSmarty, BobDolio, Canadia, Cumulus Choir, DORRITO, Deadbeat Hero, DesertWeagle, Gilbertsportsfan, GuruB, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Joey Lewis, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, Oldenschoole, RAF2018336, hotclaws, jacques_souvenier, megnetic, onedotfive, smartplays, tommyt_16 and winger49. BobDolio gets comment of the thread for this:
No, I’m still going with the female Doctor Who. :) Day off tomorrow for the D-backs: yeah, it’s only three days since they (mostly) finished a nice four-day break, but I can imagine that playing in Atlanta is like jogging in a sauna. So it’s probably for the best. They’ll head to Cincinnati for a series that begins on Tuesday, hoping for better things - well, it can hardly go any worse, anyway. Robbie Ray takes the mound for the team on Tuesday night.