Record: 52-33. Pace: 99-63. Change on 2016: +15.
Despite the fact that we lost both games, I think there are significant positives to be taken out of these contests. On the road, against the team with the best record in the National League, we have lost a pair of one-run decisions, and had the tying run on base in the ninth inning. And that’s going against the pitchers with the best and third-best ERAs in the NL (min 50 IP) who are now a combined 23-2, while putting up our #5 starter, and a guy who wasn’t even considered fit for our Opening Day rotation. Seems pretty damn good to me. Especially since it would have been even closer, had home-plate umpire Tom Hallion had a clue.
I don’t really want to get into the habit of whining about home-plate umpiring, but the record for bad calls set by D.J. Reyburn looks to have been shattered by Hallion tonight at Dodger Stadium. While these were fairly evenly split across the teams, the D-backs were the victims of a couple of particularly hellish strike threes. And, as in Reyburn’s game, a key blown call robbed Paul Goldschmidt of a walk, and potentially the D-backs of a tally. In another game which ended up being decided by one run, the impact of these mistakes really can’t be over-emphasized. Really, it blows chunks when an officiating error may have been the deciding factor in any game.
This particular gaffe came in the fourth, after Ketel Marte led off with a walk. This brought up Goldschmidt, who fell behind 1-2, then worked the count full, before taking ball four low (below). Except Hallion saw it differently, and rung up Goldschmidt with his annoyingly “look at meeeee!” call. Instead of two on and no outs, we had one down and a man on first. The difference maker followed one out later, Jake Lamb ending an 0-for-19 skid against lefties with a bloop double down the left-field line. If we had men on first and second, at least one would have scored. Instead, it was 2nd and 3rd: Brandon Drury stuck out swinging, and our best chance had gone.
The inability to handle left-handed pitching is definitely a problem that’s growing in significance for the D-backs, and is something I think we’ll see Mike Hazen et al look to address before the trade deadline. The return of A.J. Pollock should probably help, but our top three hitters against lefties this year are Chris Iannetta, Nick Ahmed (out for the foreseeable future) and Jeff Mathis. Among the lefties, David Peralta has held his own well (.790 OPS vs. LHP), which is why it was a surprise to see the outfield patrolled by Chris Herrmann (.292 OPS) and Gregor Blanco (.320). It was even more surprising to see Herrmann not hit for by Peralta in the ninth, with the tying run on base.
I am also wondering if Pollock is fully fit. He took a four-pitch walk to lead off the eighth inning, representing the tying run. But A.J was remarkably static on the basepaths thereafter, taking what Bob Brenly called out on the broadcast as a conservative lead. In the 11 pitches that followed, as Blanco struck out and Ketel Marte grounded into a fielder’s choice, there wasn’t even a hit and run effort, let alone a stolen-base attempt, from the man who is 54-9 there since the start of 2015. Given the offensive struggles tonight, I’d have thought Torey Lovullo might have tried pushing the envelope a bit, especially with his best base-runner.
Lost in all this was another stellar performance from Zack Godley, who did a great job of keeping the D-backs in the game. Arizona and Los Angeles had exactly the same number of hits (4), walks (3) and hits with runners in scoring position (0). That’s how close this game was. The difference was in the bottom of the second inning, where a one-out single was followed by a double to the wall in left-center, not helped by Herrmann and Blanco banging heads over who was going to pick it up. By the time they figured it out, the runner had scored all the way from first, and that turned out to be the only run in this game.
Godley worked 5.2 innings, allowing one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. He had his sinker working nicely, and generated nine ground-ball outs, compared to only two fly-balls, dropping his season ERA to 2.58. Andrew Chafin stranded the runner he inherited on second to end the sixth. Rubby De La Rosa worked around a leadoff walk, that he then balked over to second, recovering with back-to-back strikeouts and a comebacker. Archie Bradley pitched a scoreless eighth, despite a two-out double, striking out Cody Bellinger to end the threat.
As noted, very little to report on the offensive front. Besides Lamb’s double, Blanco put down a bunt single in the sixth, and one out later, Goldschmidt singled back up the middle for our other significant threat. Finally, Brandon Drury singled with two outs in the ninth, but Herrmann - who is perhaps getting more playing time than the last man on the roster probably should - struck out to end the game.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Woolly jumper: Zack Godley, +11.2%
Roast Lamb: Chris Owings, -20.0%
Mutton stew: Chris Herrmann, -16.8%
Well, that was... a Gameday Thread, wasn’t it? If only the D-backs had the third-best record in all baseball, everything would surely be sunshine and rainbows, and nobody would complain about Lovullo’s line-ups or failure to win each and every game. Present were Anachronistic1, AzRattler, BenSharp, BigSmarty, BobDolio, Cumulus Choir, DORRITO, DeadManG, DesertWeagle, Diamondhacks, Gilbertsportsfan, GuruB, Imstillhungry95, Incomplete Translation, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Joey Lewis, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, Oscar Goldman, SongBird, Steven M. Taylor, TylerO, Xipooo, aldma, asteroid, asuk2183, brixtonback, catbat, coldblueAZ, hotclaws, makattack71, onedotfive, samath, smartplays, tommyt_16, winger49.
Most rec’d comment was one of mine, offering to cancel someone’s SnakePit membership for the post-season. But instead, we’ll go with DORRITO’s self-deprecation:
Series finale tomorrow, and probably the most D-backs friendly pitching match-up, with Robbie Ray going up against the human blister, Rich Hill. It’s another 7:10pm start, so bring your cocoa.