Record: 60-45. Pace: 93-69. Change on 2016: +17.
Everyone loves a good story, and this one sure started off with a lot of promise. One of our stronger line-ups was on the field (minus A.J. Pollock, who showed up in a frustrating pinch-hit AB in the ninth – but more on that later) and Taijuan Walker was on the hill. For the first four innings, Arizona put at least one man on via a hit and worked the normally dangerous Lance Lynn (4-0 vs. Arizona coming into the game) for five walks and almost 80 pitches through the first four innings. Lynn did not look good at all, and speculation in the stands was that the trade talk might be affecting his performance. As for the Diamondbacks, each of the first four innings felt like a breakthrough would occur at any moment. And that’s where our pop-up story begins.
The Diamondbacks managed to pop-out of each of the first five innings, with a total of 10 pop-ups recorded through five innings. Lynn may not have had the right stuff to keep Arizona off the bases, but the team was never able to square him up enough to really drive the ball deep, with the exception of Marte’s double in the second. It didn’t help that the wind was blowing in from left, and the only dinger on the day was Jose Martinez’s two run shot in the bottom of the fourth, which didn’t travel all that far but went pretty much straight down the RF line. This tied up the score and began what has become an all-too-common storyline for the team in the month of July, which was lack of offense. Beginning in the fifth, only one man reached base for Arizona, Daniel Descalso on a seventh inning double off Tyler Lyons.
A couple items that must be noted. Descalso was in the game for Chris Owings, who fractured his finger on a bunt attempt in the second inning with bases loaded. The attempt seemed odd at the time, as Taijuan Walker was up two batters earlier with runners at the corners but was instructed to swing away. I know Taijuan can hit, but we’re still talking about hitting against Lance Lynn here, so the bunt for Walker seemed the obvious move. Maybe it was so obvious that Torey didn’t want to go with it, but I feel like that decision may have cost us a run; in any case, the later bunt attempt by Owings definitely cost us a second baseman, likely for the rest of the regular season.
Despite a strike zone that felt squeezed for both pitchers early on, Walker once again looked really dialed-in and threw a sharp game for Arizona, but – stop me if you’ve heard this before – he didn’t get enough run support. Lynn did not look impressive at all in what may have been his last start for St. Louis, but his offense gave him just enough to win, with the aforementioned Jose Martinez bringing in Jedd Gyorko on a sac fly in the bottom of the sixth again down the RF line for the deciding run. The game ended in ignominious fashion, with all three Arizona batters in the ninth going down on strikes from Trevor Rosenthal, who seemed to get a little help from a now-expanded strike zone that claimed a victim in pinch-hitter AJ Pollock. AJ and Torey took exception to the call, but at that point, it was pretty clear that an uneven strike zone wasn’t what cost us the game.
So unfortunately, not a happy ending to our story today, kiddies. We lost our second baseman, we lost our offensive momentum and we lost the game. About the best that can be said is that the book is now closed on July, which was our first month with a losing record (10-14) this season. The series did have a few heroes for us – JD Martinez with a grand slam and multiple homers, and Ketel Marte, who went 4 for 12 with 2 RBI’s and some great defensive plays, including a very difficult catch in shallow left today. Hard to believe we were able to get both Marte and Walker in trade for Jean Segura, but I’m definitely happy with the outcome of that story. Off to bed with you now, and hopefully we’ll have a much better story to tell come August 1.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Terminator 2: Daniel Descalso, +14.0%
Kindergarten Cop: Jake Lamb, -14.3%
The Last Action Hero: Goldschmidt, -13.3%; Walker, -12.6%
Present in the Gameday Thread were: AzDbackfanInDc, BigSmarty, Cumulus Choir, DORRITO, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, Gilbertsportsfan, GuruB, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, Keegan Thompson, LamparT, Majabe, MrMrrbi, Oscar Goldman, PaulGoldsmith, Renin, SongBird, cheese1213, hotclaws, onedotfive, smartplays and winger49. Post of the day: hotclaws, reminding us to keep perspective…
Day off for the team tomorrow, but it’s also trade deadline day, so we’ll be sure to keep an eye on that, see if the team decides to make a move for a Chris Owings replacement, or perhaps to shore up the bullpen. Thanks to red_leader for his recap from on site!