Record: 63-46. Pace: 94-68. Change on 2016: +19.
None can gainsay the valiant Banda as he strides through the first few frames, the same can not be said for the oft maligned Bumgarner. Lord EdBiggHead doth bid me to say “Bumgarner missed more than a fortnight due to his loins temporally vacating their male parts.” Verily, for that can describe quite well the act of dirt biking when your livelihood and contract demand otherwise.
If you’re to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. And so, congratulations to Anthony Banda, who got his first W. That required him to out-duel the Giants’ Opening Day starter, Madison Bumgarner, who had finished in the National League Cy Young top 10, each of the past four seasons. No big deal. But Banda was up to the task, giving the D-backs six innings of one-run ball, allowing only three hits with four walks and seven strikeouts. There was only one inning where there was any real problem for Banda: that was after he had kept the Giants hitless through the first three innings, facing one over the minimum, on two walks and a double-play.
San Francisco broke up the no-hitter in the fourth with a leadoff bunt single. If their intention was to disrupt Banda’s concentration, it seemed to do the trick. After another bunt attempt advanced the runner, Banda walked the next better, then could only get his glove on a comebacker. That led to an infield single, which loaded the bases with one out. He then tried to go to his breaking ball for a K, but that simply led to him walking in the Giants’ first run. That done, he went back to his money pitch, getting a big strikeout for the second out, and a groundout ensured he escaped the inning without further damage.
But if you wanted a statement, Banda’s fifth frame provided one, as he struck out the side on 16 pitches. There was a nasty moment in the sixth, as he unfortunately hit Brandon Belt in the head with a breaking pitch. Readers may remember Taijuan Walker hit Buster Posey early in the season, sending Posey to the concussion DL. Hopefully the same fate doesn’t befall Belt, who did have to leave this game. Jake Lamb wore a pitch from Bumgarner in the ribs in the seventh. I’m going to trust that will be the end of the matter. The pinch-runner made an ill-advised attempt to advance on a fly ball to A.J. Pollock. He won’t do that again, and one out later, Banda’s night was over.
The D-backs bullpen cut through the Giants like a buzz-saw over the remaining three inning. Jorge De La Rosa, David Hernandez and Fernando Rodney were all perfect, retiring all nine batters they faced and requiring only 35 pitches for innings 7-9. Rodney notched his third save in consecutive days, the first closer for Arizona to do that since Addison Reed from April 23-25, 2014. [Before that, Heath Bell did in 2013, and J.J. Putz twice in 2011, as well as a streak where he got a W and two Sv] With a one-run lead, it was definitely welcome to keep the drama down as far as possible, especially after last night’s exercise in mental torment!
Goldschmidt though; that being of unending light, that radiant king of righteous baseball, that High Lord of RBIs. He would never stray to ill-advised acts of dirt based sports, for his realm is the diamond and his rule is just. By that, I mean to say he tripled in the 4th to get the D-backs their 1st lead.
If the pitching was dominant - none of the Giants’ three hits left the infield, being a bunt and a pair of infield singles - then our offense was not a great deal better. Arizona were held to six hits and two walks, and went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Paul Goldschmidt was responsible for both of the Diamondbacks’ runs. With one out in the fourth, Pollock singled and Goldschmidt then delivered the ball into the appropriately named Triples’ Alley at AT&T Park, ending up on third and scoring Pollock. He was stranded there as J.D. Martinez grounded out and Adam Rosales struck out. J.D. was 0-for-4 with two K’s: he’s batting .178 since coming here, but slugging .578,
In the sixth inning, David Peralta led off the inning with our only other extra-base hit of the night, doubling to right. It looked like we were going to end up stranding the go-ahead run in scoring position, as Chris Iannetta fanned and Pollock grounded out. Oh, ye of little faith. Goldschmidt crushed the ball off the wall in left with such venom, it got there so quickly, he was held to a single. But that was enough for Peralta to come home, giving the D-backs just enough of an edge. Goldschmidt ended the night with half of Arizona’s six hits, and his OPS has now reached 1.040, overtaking his likely main rival for MVP, Bryce Harper, who sits at 1.039. And Goldy’s a nice person, to boot.
Peralta was the only other Diamondbacks hitter to reach base more than once, getting a walk in addition to his double. The win didn’t gain the D-backs much ground, as the Dodgers, Rockies and Brewers all won. But our Fangraphs playoffs odds are up to 93.0%: a win tomorrow, and we could well be looking at a season-high figure when I review the chances at the 110 game mark.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
What a Wonderful Workd: Paul Goldschmidt, +38.2%
Hello Dolly: Banda, +20.6%; Rodney, +18.2%; Hernandez, +13.2%; De La Rosa, +10.3%
Mack the Knife: Chris Iannetta, -18.4%
We Have All The Time In The World: Martinez, -13.6%; Rosales, -10.0%
Roll-call seems flaky again, saying there are only 157 comments, which seems short by about 400. Oh, hang on. Refreshed and there we go. So, present were: BenSharp, BobDolio, Cumulus Choir, DORRITO, DeadManG, DesertWeagle, GuruB, Imstillhungry95, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Justin27, Keegan Thompson, LamparT, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, Oscar Goldman, PaulGoldsmith, SongBird, Sprankton, TylerO, asteroid, cheese1213, coldblueAZ, hotclaws, makattack71, since_98, smartplays, soco and winger49. Comment of the night to Michael, for the visual representation offered (below) of the home-plate umpire’s strike-zone:
The third win in a row for the D-backs, and the first time we’ve beaten left-handed starting pitchers on consecutive days this season. The last time was against the Rockies’ Tyler Anderson and coincidentally Jorge De La Rosa, on Sep 12-13, 2016. Tomorrow, it’s back to righties, and we send Taijuan Walker to the mound. First pitch is at 6:05pm.