Record 56-40. Pace: 94-68. Change on 2016: +17.
That was glorious. I particularly enjoyed the way the team stuck it to the doubters, the negative nabobs, and the merchants of gloom who proclaimed we would lose this - both before and, quite remarkably, even when we were ahead. Seriously? Must be some new definition of “support”, of which I was previously unaware. Sure, the D-backs lost a 5-0 lead: but showed absolute fortitude when it was needed most, Brandon Drury delivering yet another thrilling walk-off win. Dammit: bold and caps please. WE WON A MAX SCHERZER START FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE WE TRADED HIM. Anyone not fully on board with celebrating that turn in your SnakePit card please.
There was so much weird, special and amazing about tonight, but you don’t have to look further than how it began. Remember last time we faced Scherzer? He allowed two hits over seven innings. Tonight, we had twice as many as that before the first out was recorded. Oh, and three of them became souvenirs, as David Peralta, A.J. Pollock and Jake Lamb went back-to-back-to-back to start the game off for Arizona. Per Elias, it was the fifth time in MLB history for that, following the 1987 Padres, 2003 Braves, 2007 Brewers and 2012 Orioles. And Scherzer became the first reigning Cy Young champion since Gaylord Perry in 1973 to allow three consecutive homers in a game.
Below, you’ll find what is possibly the most glorious, concentrated three plate-appearances of goodness by any Diamondbacks hitters since November 2001. The first was a lovely surprise; the second, astonishing; I am not ashamed to say, I may have required a new pair of trousers after the third.
But, wait! There’s more! Paul Goldschmidt followed with a single, before Daniel Descalso finally gave Scherzer a mercy out. Drury drew a walk, and one out later, Jeff Mathis drove in Goldschmidt with a single the Nats’ left-fielder couldn’t quite corral. 4-0 Diamondbacks. Zack Godley ended the first inning, but Peralta got to lead off both the first AND second inning, which is usually a good thing... One-out doubles in the second Pollock and Lamb brought the Arizona faithful tacos; unconfirmed reports say, four outs was the quickest Scherzer had allowed five runs in his entire career. Win Probability = 91.8%. Shall I start that recap now?
Certainly, in the early going, Zack Godley looked very impressive, with his curveball in particular looking especially good. To the first 11 hitters Godley faced tonight, a walk to Mr. Perfect Hair was all that he allowed. But the Nationals are not first in the NL East by default. This is a legitimately scary offense, and they began to crawl their way back into the game. They got on the board in the fourth, then added two more in the fifth, in part helped by Godley’s decision to go for an out at first on a comebacker, when he should have come home and would very likely have got the man on third trapped in a rundown.
Still holding a 5-3 lead, Godley put two on with one out in the sixth, but rebounded to finish the night with a lovely strikeout, and walked off the mound to a great reception from the large crowd in attendance [fun fact: the team are now 7-0 when the crowd at Chase is more than 34,500 this season; it was 37,858 tonight, and there’s a good chance 2017 attendance might overtake 2016’s figure by the end of this weekend]. That gave Zack 10 K’s on the night, setting a new career high for the second straight start. Andrew Chafin allowed an inherited runner to score, leaving Godley with a line of four runs in 5.2 innings, on five hits and three walks, but still in line for a W.
The offense, meanwhile, had gone a bit cold after their early Surge of Absolute Awesome. After Lamb’s RBI double with one out in the second, we only managed two further hits off Scherzer, both by Peralta. Though we were treated to the sight of a batter being intentionally walked to get to Paul Goldschmidt, something which has not happened since Gerardo Parra was IBB’d in the 11th inning of a June 2014 contest, likely to set up a double play. Mind you, the recipient here was Lamb, who is now approaching Goldschmidt-Lincecum levels of ownership on Scherzer. Including tonight, Jake is now 6-for-11 with three home-runs, two doubles and four walks against Max.
Archie Bradley came in for the seventh, and worked around a walk to Mr. Perfect Hair, keeping the score 5-4. The eighth, however, was a roller-coaster of emotions. Lead-off double = boo... Comebacker neatly fielded by Bradley, runner on second caught in a run-down and retired = yay! Double to the wall in left-center = boo... A ground-out to first tied the game, and the online complaining reached truly epic levels. Never mind that, before the game, we’d have been delighted if anyone had said we’d have a tied game after seven innings against Scherzer... The inning finished with a brief Stephen Drew sighting, as he flew out, to strand the go-ahead run for Washington at third.
A one-out double by Ketel Marte was also stranded in the home half of the inning, and it was onto the ninth. Fernando Rodney came on for Arizona and was very solid, working a 1-2-3 inning, ending with Mr. Perfect Hair being retired by a really slick play by Marte on a hard-hit ball that seemed to skid across the grass. Pollock led off the bottom of the ninth, and crushed a pitch off the wall in center, hustling in to give Arizona a lead-off triple. Intentional walks to Lamb and Goldschmidt followed, loading the bases. Gregor Blanco, a late-inning defensive replacement for Descalso, flied out to shallow left, which brought up Drury...
It was a stellar game, which had absolutely everything you could want. It was also very significant in terms of the standings, because we were the only one of the top six teams in the National League to win today. The Dodgers, Rockies and Cubs conceded a total of 36 runs - the Dodgers lost their second straight against the Braves, at home please note - while the Brewers and (natch) Nationals also went down. This gives us back sole possession of the first wild-card spot; we’re 9.5 back of the Dodgers, and now 6.5 up on the Cubs.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Aladdin: A.J. Pollock, +35.5%
Good Morning, Vietnam: Rodney, +14.7%; Drury, +11.6%
Patch Adams: Archie Bradley, -11.4%
Flubber: Gregor Blanco, -10.1%
A brisk GDT, over 500 comments, as you might expect. Present in it were: BigSmarty, CardsRepInChile, DORRITO, DbacKid, DeadManG, DesertWeagle, Gilbertsportsfan, GuruB, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Joey Lewis, Justin27, LamparT, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, PaulGoldsmith, Xipooo, ZephonNoMore, aldma, asteroid, coldblueAZ, dbackdrummer, edbigghead, hotclaws, makattack71, noblevillain, onedotfive, piratedan7, smartplays and winger49. I’m tempted to pick from the rabidly negative comments in the GDT (or on Twitter) as Comment of the Night, But I’m not going to stop to their level after such a glorious win as tonight. So it’s hotclaws:
Thanks also to Turambar, for not being able to beercap tonight, so I got to enjoy what must surely be a Game of the Year candidate. Hopefully, tomorrow will be just as much fun - not least since we’ll be at the park, to see the debut of our top pitching prospect, Anthony Banda. It’ll have to go some to live up to this game, however!