Record: 92-67. Pace: 94-68. Change on 2016:
If the MLB draft was right now, the San Francisco Giants would have the first pick. And through eight innings, it looked like the Diamondbacks would finish the 2016 regular season by dropping two out of three at home, to those Giants. Scheduled starter Zack Greinke had his start pushed back to Friday in Kansas City (which lines him up to pitch the wild-card game on regular rest). Instead, Braden Shipley made his first start since an outing for the Reno Aces in Las Vegas on August 26. But hey: with the D-backs having already clinched their post-season spot, and home-field advantage in the wild-card game, this was not about the result. And until the ninth, we played like it.
At one point, Shipley was ranked as high as the #22 prospect in all baseball. But we haven’t seen much sign of it at the major-league level so far. Admittedly, he is still on the right side of the aging curve at 25, but after a rookie season last year where he posted a 5.27 ERA, he didn’t take the hoped-for step forward into our rotation this year. He finishes this year with a higher ERA of 5.76, and with almost as many strikeouts as walks (18:15), over Shipley’s 25 innings of work. It terms of starting pitchers coming up from our farm system, he has certainly been overtaken by Zack Godley, and arguably Anthony Banda as well.
Today was certainly unimpressive. Shipley had an ugly first inning, beginning with a lead-off triple, and ending after 34 pitches, with two Giants runs having crossed home-plate. He did rebound with an efficient 1-2-3 second inning, but then hit more trouble in the third. Admittedly, it wasn’t all of his own making, as David Peralta managed to misplay a deep fly into the left-field corner. He seemed to think he was closer to the bullpen wall than he was, and the ball ended up clanking off his glove for an RBI double. Shipley’s day was done after 3.1 innings, being replaced by Banda. The final line was three runs on four hits and two walks, with a pair of strikeouts.
The Shark was largely chewing up and spitting out D-backs hitters. Through four innings, he had faced one batter over the minimum, that being J.D. Martinez’s lead-off single in the second [Ketel Marte walked to lead off the fourth, but was erased on a Martinez double-play]. The Diamondbacks finally got on the board in the fifth inning, when Jake Lamb led off the frame with his 29th home-run of the season, which tied his career high. Perhaps more entertaining was the scramble which broke out over the home-run ball, in the section just beyond the fence in right field. It was like “Catch a Greased Pig” at the county fair; unfortunately, a guy in a Giants hat came out on top.
There was only one further hit for Arizona off Jeff Samardzija. John Ryan Murphy got his first - and quite possibly, only - regular-season hit as a Diamondback, doubling to the fence in right, to lead off the sixth, but was stranded at third-base. Meanwhile, Banda and Jake Barrett stopped the Giants from adding on, with both some help and some hindrance from the defense. The first two reached for San Francisco in the sixth, as Lamb apparently tried to start a double-play before actually making sure he had the ball. However, Peralta helped escape the jam after the runners went in motion on a fly ball to left, throwing the runner out nicely as he tried to get back to second.
Andrew Chafin and J.J. Hoover combined for the eighth and ninth, to complete 5.2 shutout innings by the bullpen, on two hits and no walks with six K’s. Since the offense had remained stagnant, Arizona were now three outs from losing a series at home to the worst team in baseball. My level of annoyance at this prospect was surprisingly low. Then J.D. Martinez led off the frame, and did J.D. Martinez things (below). In other words, joined Lamb, with his 29th home-run of the season, to pull the D-backs within one. [His 16 HR and 36 RBI are both team records in any month]. Lamb walked, and A.J. Pollock followed with a single. Suddenly, the tying run was on third with no-one out.
Daniel Descalso wasn’t able to get it done, hitting a hard smash to second, the Giants coming home to get the out there. With men now on first and second and one out, Lovullo then pulled his master-stroke, Pollock and Descalso executing a double-steal without a throw. Jeremy Hazelbaker was walked, loading the bases for Murphy. He hit a high chopper to short, with the only play to come home and try for the force. The throw was too late, and the game was tied. Peralta didn’t even take the bat off his shoulder, looking at five pitches, the last being ball four, for a walk-off walk [The ninth in team history, the previous being by Welington Castillo against Milwaukee last Aug 5]
It was an entirely unexpected win and a great way to end the regular season at Chase Field. It pushes the team’s home record to 52-29, which as noted in the preview is tied for the second-best mark in franchise history. Martinez and Lamb each had two hits, Marte getting a hit and a walk. The team will now head to Kansas City, and will start the final series of the season there, after the off-day tomorrow.
- A nice gesture by the Diamondbacks, to recognize Matt Cain, who appears to be retiring (he didn’t specifically mention the R word) at the end of this season, with a scoreboard montage.
- The attendance was 20,048, making a total of 2,134,375 for the year. That’s an increase of 98,159 on last season. It’s the biggest overall tally since 2013, and the largest year-on-year increase since 2008.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Sam Adams: A.J. Pollock, +40.3%
The Founding Fathers: Murphy, +33.2%; Lamb, +25.4%; Barrett, +10.9%;
Benedict Arnold: Daniel Descalso, -35.5%
General Charles Lee: Goldschmidt, -14.9%; Shipley, -14.7%
Unsurprisingly, this was among the quietest Gameday Thread of 2017, barely getting past 300 comments - still rather better than some of those at the same point last year! Present were: AzDbackfanInDc, BigSmarty, DORRITO, GuruB, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Justin27, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, PaulGoldsmith, Renin, SenSurround, asteroid, hotclaws, megnetic, onedotfive, piratedan7, rustynails77 and smartplays, but nothing turned Sedona Red, so we’ll carry this one forward to Kansas City. As noted, off day tomorrow, before Zack Greinke makes his final start of the regular season on Friday.