Record: 78-58. Pace: 93-69. Change on 2016:
The Diamondbacks’ 2017 season peaked so far on June 27. They won in walk-off fashion over the St. Louis Cardinals that day, sending their record to 50-28, or 22 games above .500. But they then started to hemorrhage wins, and by the time they limped out of Minnesota on Aug 20, they were only ten up, having gone 17-29. For them to have rebounded back to +20 at all is impressive. That they did it in just a dozen games is incredible. But tonight’s win was the team’s eleventh in the past twelve, and also their ninth victory in a row: that’s tied for second longest in franchise history, behind only a 12-game streak from June 2003.
Even more remarkably, the team scored three runs in the first, and were never tied. That means Arizona has now been in the lead at the end of 52 consecutive innings. This is the third longest streak in the live-ball era. They had a graphic about that up during tonight’s game, and here’s where we stand, now it’s in the books:
TIL, the Dodgers used to be called the Robins. Anyway, to break the record, we would need to take the lead in the first inning again tomorrow, and hold it through at least the fourth. The way this team has been playing of late, I wouldn’t put it past them.
Tonight, it was a three-run homer from J.D. Martinez that gave them their early cushion. Our first two batters had got on base with singles, albeit of very different kinds: David Peralta hit his off the wall, Ketel Marte’s didn’t even get out of the infield. They both counted. It looked like the D-backs’ streak might come to an end, as Jake Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt both made outs, but J.D. Martinez came through, crushing the ball to center-field. It was his 14th home-run as a Diamondback, in only 158 PAs. How much power is that? Peralta - not exactly having a bad year - has one fewer home-run, in more than three times as many trips to the plate (484 PA).
As well as scoring in the first inning, the over-riding theme during the winning streak has been the starting pitching. That was the case again tonight, with Patrick Corbin holding the Rockies to one earned run on just two hits, over 5.1 innings. This was the second time Torey Lovullo seemed to have a quick hook for his starter. Last night, Taijuan Walker went 5 innings and 93 pitches; tonight, Corbin went 5.1 and 96 pitches. I wonder if Lovullo is trying to manage the starters’ pitch count a bit more in September, and keep the fresh for the post-season, especially with the rosters having expanded to offer more bullpen help.
Corbin wasn’t exactly dominating tonight: four K’s to three BB. But he wasn’t allowing much hard contact. The run scored in the fourth inning, on about the only well-struck ball, lead-off man D.J. LeMahieu beating the “LeMahieu shift” by dint of hitting it over their heads and off the wall [Though, actually, with Corbin a leftie, the D-backs avoid the extreme outfield shift used on Friday. It did show up when LeMahieu faced Archie Bradley later] The ball took a weird ricochet, pinging back hard, past a surprised A.J. Pollock, for a triple. Corbin seemed rattled, and walked Nolan Arenado, but then dialed up a double-play ball, limiting damage to the run that came in on that play.
The teams exchanged defensive gaffes in the sixth, contributing to a run on each side. In the top half, with two on and one out, Corbin bunted the ball up the third-base line, but Arenado booted it foul, and everyone was safe. Peralta then hit a comebacker to the pitcher, who came home for the force, when he could perhaps have started an inning ending double-play at second. He then threw a wild pitch which brought Arizona’s fourth run in. In the bottom half, with one man on base, the first batter after Corbin was replaced by J.J. Hoover, lined the ball to right, where Martinez clanked it off his glove for a two-base error. But Hoover kept Colorado to an RBI groundout.
That made it 4-2 to the D-backs, and the bullpen had to weave their way through some more traffic in the seventh. Poor David Hernandez had no luck: he got the first two, then gave up a 99-hopper back up the middle and a bloop that dropped into no-man’s land down the left-field line. With the tying run on base, Lovullo went to Andrew Chafin, who struck out Charlie Blackmon, ending the threat. Archie Bradley worked a scoreless eighth, and even though the D-backs had extended their lead to four runs, courtesy of Martinez’s RBI single and a wild-pitch, Fernando Rodney came in, closing things out for his second consecutive non-save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Martinez was the man, with his two hits driving in four. Marte had two hits and a walk, while Jake Lamb and Chris Herrmann each drew a pair of walks. It was a good day all round, with the Brewers and Cardinals both losing. We’re now 5.5 clear of the Rockies, and a full 7 games up on the Brewers. Fangraphs gives Arizona’s playoff odds at 99.7%: maybe if we can get a 10th win tomorrow, they’ll be within rounding distance of the magic 100%?
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
The Matrix: Patrick Corbin, +22.8%
John Wick: Martinez, +21.2%; Bradley, +11.8%
Johnny Mnemonic: Paul Goldschmidt, -13.2%
47 Ronin: David Peralta, -10.2%
Seven hundred comments in the Gameday Thread. Three-quarters of them NOT from AzDbackfanInDc, either! Those present were: Anachronistic1, AzDbackfanInDc, Cumulus Choir, DORRITO, DeadManG, GuruB, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Keegan Thompson, LamparT, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, Oldenschoole, PaulGoldsmith, Rcastillo, SongBird, asteroid, coldblueAZ, edbigghead, hotclaws, onedotfive, piratedan7, rustynails77 and smartplays. Comment of the night to LamparT, in regard to J.D. Martinez:
I get the feeling with 30 home-runs already and a .979 OPS, the cost of Tomas would be more like a down-payment on what Martinez is going to get this winter as a free-agent. But enjoy him while it lasts, folks! Tomorrow, the team goes for 10, with Zack Godley starting, and AzDbackfanInDc recapping. If he breaks the streak, there will be some firings going on... :)