Record: 60-44. Pace: 93-69. Change on 2016: +17.
There’s something to be said for these very early Saturday night starts. We’ve already got dinner out of the way, and I’m starting on the recap while the last rays of the setting sun are still visible in the Western sky here. A solid D-backs’ win under the belt, and we’ll have plenty of time to clear out the DVR before tomorrow night, when SyFy start their Sharknado Week programming. Yes, I may not be active on too many GDTs this week, folks: for Tonight I will be heavily occupied watching Trailer Park Shark and its ilk, up to the premiere of Sharknado 5: Global Swarming next Sunday. Don’t @ me.
Tonight’s game unfolded in front of an all-time record attendance at Busch Stadium - not just regular-season record, but bigger even than the World Series and the All-Star Game. Admittedly, we can’t likely take all the credit - tonight’s giveaway was pretty cool, being a replica 1919 Cardinals Jersey. But the Diamondbacks were able to send that home crowd away disappointed - though it looked pretty dubious in the bottom of the first inning. 11 pitches in, St. Louis had three hits and a 1-0 lead. That ended the Arizona streak of innings without an earned run at 18, without an out being recorded by Zack Greinke.
It took some real fancy pitching by Zack to get out of that mess, especially with a wild pitch thrown into the mix. But he got Yadier Molina to look at strike three, and that proved key to the escape. Any time your pitcher can allow a double, two singles and that WP, and still only give up one run, you’ll take it. Still, it didn’t seem the best of omens for the D-backs, whose bats were slow to get going: through three innings, they were 0-for-9 with a walk and a hit batter. [The latter belonged to A.J. Pollock, who was actually hit twice in tonight’s game; he had not been hit more than twice in any season prior to this evening]
Jake Lamb was also hit, leading off the fourth inning, and Paul Goldschmidt was able to capitalize on that immediately. He went opposite-field with his 22nd home-run of the year, though that had to withstand an umpire-initiated review. For the ball bounced off the top off the outfield wall, and ended up back in the field of play; there appeared to be some question as to whether it had gone over the wall or not. Though the fact that the Cardinals’ outfielder picked up the ball and lobbed it back into the bleachers, was probably a good clue it had left the yard. The review was relatively quick, and confirmed the two-run shot, making the score 2-1.
J.D. Martinez was next up, and rendered the decision moot with a home-run that was entirely without any question about it. That’s his fifth since joining the D-backs from the Tigers, and he only has six hits. A caption during the broadcast informed me he was the first Diamondbacks hitter to do that - this is my unsurprised face. But I’d be curious to know if any player has ever had five home-runs in their first six hits for their new team. I’m trying to figure out a way of finding our the most home-runs by a deadline(ish) traded player, and haven’t got it yet. I can say that only two D-backs have reached 20 second-half HR. Gonzo had 22 in 2001, and Mark Reynolds 20 in 2009.
A 3-1 lead obviously wasn’t out of the woods, but Greinke did a really good job of settling down after the wobbly start. Indeed, after those three hits, he allowed just one further while recording the next 21 outs, with one walk and nine strikeouts. Both the hit and the walk came to consecutive hitters, leading off the fifth inning, but Greinke buckled down, getting a K and a double-play to snuff out the threat. A Daniel Descalso error (his second in two games) put the leadoff man in scoring position in the sixth inning as well; unlike last night, the runner was left on base, as Greinke dialed up three groundouts, and ended the night with his season ERA down to 2.84.
Arizona then gave themselves some breathing room with a four-run eighth inning, after J.D. Martinez was ruled out following a (questionable) review on a double-play ball to end the seventh. Ketel Marte continues to make his case for more playing time - the struggles of Chris Owings and Brandon Drury stand alongside him there - with his fourth home-run, a two-run shot. He also had two walks, and has got his OPS up to .818. A particularly embarrassing error by the Cardinals infield gave Pollock a gift RBI double, as third-base and shortstop both left a ground-ball to the other, and Goldschmidt notched his third RBI with a sacrifice fly to complete Arizona’s scoring.
Seven innings from our starter were also just what the bullpen needed at 6.1 innings of work last night. Jake Barrett and Silvino Bracho, the latter recalled from Reno today, to replace Robbie Ray, each threw a scoreless inning of relief, combining for only 20 pitches. In contrast, the Cardinals’ bullpen tossed ninety-four pitches, so that more than balanced out yesterday’s workload. The night’s action saw the Rockies, Dodgers and Cubs win, but the latter defeated the Brewers in extra innings, so that means the D-backs’ wild-card cushion is back to six games over Milwaukee. Our run differential is now also better than Washington’s, trailing only the Dodgers and Astros in all MLB.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Cy Young: Zack Greinke, +30.4%
Cy-tation: Paul Goldschmidt, +25.5%; Marte, +10.0%
Cy-anide: David Peralta, -9.5%
Roll-call’s not working. Sorry. There was a Gameday Thread, there were people in it. At least there was one Sedona Red comment, which made my decision making for Comment of the Night quick and painless.
Series finale tomorrow, and be nice to go into Monday’s off-day with a victory and the series win that would go along with it. It’s Taijuan Walker for us, and supposedly Lance Lynn for the Cardinals... if he’s not traded before first pitch at 11:15am Arizona time!