Record: 61-46. Pace: 92-70. Change on 2016: +18.
What a difference a day makes. This time last night, ish95 was weeping into his keyboard, the D-backs having been pounded to the tune of 16 runs. 24 hours later, the same Cubs were held to three hits by Zack Godley and crew, as the Diamondbacks squared the series in Chicago. Even though we’ve been outscored 16-7 thus far. :) It was key, making us the only team with a winning record in the National League to be victorious tonight, so gaining a game on everyone else.
It’s always tougher to do meaningful recaps of pitching duels than slugfests. Even last night, where we got blown out early and blown out late, you can get a good chunk out of our best pitching performance coming from a utility player. [I almost called him a utility infielder, but Descalso has now played more innings in the outfield. After his stint last night, he just needs CF, RF and C to complete the set of positions this year] It has things to write about. But batters making outs, particularly on balls in play, is bland stuff to describe. I’m not averse to watching a good pitching duel, but recapping them is another matter.
So I’m tempted to do what Fox Sports Arizona do, when they’re broadcasting one of their condensed games, and say “We now move on to the sixth inning,” because that’s where the excitement (and run-scoring) here began. That wouldn’t be fair to Zack Godley, however, who gave the Diamondbacks exactly what they needed after last night. Skipping the bulk of his outing would be like fast-forwarding through Gladiator to get to the fights. It was all the more impressive, because this shouldn’t even have been a duel. We’ve got the 2015 Cy Young winner, who finished top 10 there in 2014 and 2016, going up against a guy who couldn’t even crack our Opening Day rotation.
And yet, Godley dueled Jake Arrietta to a standstill. It wasn’t exactly trouble-free. The leadoff man reached base for Chicago in both the first and second innings, and two men were stranded in the second and third. But Godley was locating his pitches well, missing down when he was missing at all, and even though he did allow more fly-balls than you would generally like, they weren’t flying out of the yard like it seemed every other pitch was doing last night. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter with two outs in the top of the seventh, having pitched six shutout innings, allowing three hits and two walks, fanning five. His season ERA is down to 2.86. A phenomenal job, Zack.
However, the D-backs offense wasn’t doing much against Arrietta over the first five innings. The first two times through the order, all Arizona had to show for it was a Chris Iannetta single, leading off the third... and a Chris Iannetta walk, with two outs in the fifth. But after Godley struck out to open the sixth, David Peralta got the team’s second hit, singling to center. The D-backs then got lucky, though perhaps A.J. Pollock’s speed helped trigger the error from the Cubs’ shortstop, giving the D-backs runners on the corners with one out. Pollock then stole his 15th base of the year, setting the table for Jake Lamb.
It says a lot about how things have gone, that I had resigned myself to us wasting the opportunity somehow. I was beginning to think there was some little-known section in the MLB rules, prohibiting Arizona from getting a hit with runners in scoring position. So, color me delighted when Jake Lamb drove the ball down the first-base line for a two-RBI double. Even there, I was half expecting the Cubs to appeal - and probably win the challenge - for the ball actually being foul. Or on that little-known paragraph. The next pitch from Arrietta hit Paul Goldschmidt in the neck, which I could be peeved about, but it was a curveball, so I’ll go with it getting away from the pitcher.
Arizona tacked on an insurance run, again courtesy of Jake Lamb, in the eighth. This time, he went the other way, slapping the ball down the left-field line where the Cubs’ fielder kicked it around, helping David Peralta to motor all the way around from first to score. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen was literally perfect. First Andrew Chafin, then Archie Bradley, and finally Fernando Rodney, each retired the three batters they faced. Chafin and Rodney notched a pair of K’s, while Bradley did have a bit of help from a nice catch by David Peralta. It was Rodney’s first save opportunity in almost four weeks, the last one coming on July 7.
In the preview, I looked at what the team had done after previous 16+ run shellackings. Over the 14 previous such occasions, they had never allowed fewer than two runs, and since the end of 2005 it had been six runs or more. So this was easily the most dramatic turnaround in pitching fortunes the D-backs had ever seen. It also brings their record in such games to 7-8, so there’s not much evidence these kinds of defeats lead to a hangover the next contest. However, I’m particularly glad we won this one, as a potential slippery slope could have beckoned.
Instead, the Rockies blew a five-run lead, the Dodgers finally lost, and the Brewers were beaten too. So we reclaim the first wild-card spot from Colorado, after a day’s absence, and also extend the lead over Milwaukee for a general playoff spot, back to six games.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Clerks: Zack Godley, +35.2%
Red State: Jake Lamb, +22.0%
Chasing Amy: J.D. Martinez, -10.7%
Thanks to the GDTers: a lot less tension after Lamb’s efforts! Present were BigSmarty, Cumulus Choir, DORRITO, DbacKid, DeadManG, Gilbertsportsfan, GuruB, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, MrMrrbi, PaulGoldsmith, SenSurround, TortugaCub, aldma, asteroid, coldblueAZ, hotclaws, megnetic, noblevillain, onedotfive, piratedan7 and smartplays. Comment of the night to smartplays:
Rubber game tomorrow, which involves day baseball, so note the start time, which is 11:20 am in Arizona. Should be a good pitching match-up with Zack Greinke going up against Jose Quintana, and a win would likely mean (unless we win by a LOT!) we take the series despite getting outscored. Which would be nice payback for the St. Louis series!