Record: 90-66. Pace: 94-68. Change on 2016: +25.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are back in the MLB post-season for the first time since 2011. Given events elsewhere, the result here was actually irrelevant: a loss would perhaps have made the bubbly taste slightly warmer, but no less effervescent. However, you could not have scripted it better, with the man who has carried the offense for much of the second half delivering. The victory here also ensured the game on October 4th will take place at Chase Field, in front of what is sure to be a passionate crowd.
For a long time today, it looked like the team would back into the playoffs, trailing for much of the game. But as they’ve done so often this year, the team fought back, tying things up in the eighth before J.D. Martinez delivered a walk-off hit to trigger the champagne celebrations in earnest. The triumphal delight was not limited to the locker-room; as in 2011, the team made their collective way to the pool and jumped in. Hopefully, there will be further similar celebrations - and not just on October 4th either.
Patrick Corbin got a no-decision today, but deserved much, much more after a string of starts from our rotation which were causing nervous twitches in the fanbase. He steadied the ship with the first quality start for the Diamondbacks, in what seems like forever, but is really only slightly more than a week. He tossed 6.2 innings of two-run ball, and was unlucky to allow that. The first Marlins run was scored by their starting pitcher, who doubled just fair down the right-field line in the third, on a hit apparently so unlikely, he literally stood in the batter’s box until it had landed. A Giancarlo Stanton single drove him in, though Stanton ran into an out at second, for which we thank him.
The Diamondbacks responded in the bottom of the third, with Corbin smacking a much more legitimate extra-base hit, also into the right-field corner, resulting in a stand-up triple with one out. It was the 14th pitcher triple for Arizona, the first since Corbin and Shelby Miller and each hit one, five days apart on May 8 + 13 last season. Patrick needs one more to tie Brian Anderson for the franchise lead in pitcher triples (3). In this case, however, he would be stranded there, as David Peralta and Ketel Marte were unable to bring him home and tie the game.
Any disappointment lasted only about five minutes: at 2:05pm, Arizona time, word came through from Milwaukee that the Cubs had completed a shutout of the Brewers. Combined with the earlier news that the Cardinals had lost to the Pirates, the D-backs were officially confirmed as participants in the wild-card game. You could hear a ripple around the ballpark as the news spread. In the middle of the fourth inning (after the Marlins had tacked on another run in the top half, taking a 2-0 lead, before leaving the bases loaded), the news was officially announced over the PA, and the celebratory hugs began in the Diamondbacks dugout.
The home hitters were having their issues with the Marlins’ pitcher, Dan Straily. He was using both a good slider and an effective change-up, and had seven strikeouts through four innings. But the D-backs got on the board in the fifth, as Chris Herrmann notched his 10th home-run of the season, pulling us within one, and making the score 2-1. Arizona had a chance to level things in the sixth, after a two-walk by Daniel Descalso was followed by Jake Lamb’s doubling to right field. But A.J. Pollock struck out on three pitches. There’d be no further scoring through the seventh, with Corbin falling one short of the “21 outs”. He allowed five hits and four walks, fanning five.
In the end, it was a pair of Marlins errors which proved decisive, with neither the tying nor winning run being earned. In the eighth, after Jimmie Sherfy had notched his 11th straight scoreless appearance to start his major-league career, Paul Goldschmidt singled to lead things off, against former D-backs’ closer Brad Ziegler, and advanced to second as the Miami left-fielder completely whiffed on the ball. After a J.D. Martinez strikeout, Descalso banged the ball back up the middle and Goldschmidt motored around third, scoring without a throw to tie the game. While there’d be no further hits, a 1-2-3 inning from Fernando Rodney in the ninth set up the walk-off scenario.
Herrmann was first up, drawing a walk. Kris Negron then followed, attempting to bunt Chris into scoring position. He got the bunt down, but Dee Gordon was slow to cover first for Miami, and the ball clanked off his glove, allowing the Diamondbacks to put runners on the corners with no outs. Peralta was intentionally walked to load the based, before first Ketel Marte, then Goldschmidt, both bounced the ball to third, each leading to the runner being forced out at home-plate. Step up, who else but J.D. Martinez, who sent a line-drive over the despairing glove of the left-fielder for a long single (below), his first walk-off hit as a Diamondback.
The victory rendered the Rockies’ result irrelevant as far as the D-backs were concerned today. The wild-card game will be played at Chase Field on Wednesday October 4th, most likely against those Rockies [they sit two ahead of the Brewers, with six to play, and have a magic number of five]. I can’t wait.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Kermit the Frog: Daniel Descalso, +22.7%
Miss Piggy: Negron, +21.9%; Martinez, +19.9%; Rodney, +14.7%; Corbin, +12.1%; Herrmann, +11.6%
Elmo: A.J. Pollock, -23.3%
Marvin Suggs: Marte, -21.1%; Goldschmidt, -10.5%
O HAI, eight hundred comments in the Gameday Thread. What’s that all about? :) Present were: AzDbackfanInDc, Caballo37339, DORRITO, DbacKid, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Imstillhungry95, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, Oldenschoole, PaulGoldsmith, SongBird, asteroid, coldblueAZ, edbigghead, hotclaws, luckycc, megnetic, onedotfive and smartplays. Comment of the game to Oldenschoole:
He’s not wrong. The 2017 Diamondbacks are 10-0 when Chris Herrmann homers. Here’s to that streak continuing into the post-season! There are still six games left in the regular season, but I kinda want to fast-forward past them all to reach October 4... Tomorrow, however, the Giants arrive for the last home series; Zack Godley starts for the Diamondbacks.