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Arizona Diamondbacks 3, Kansas City Royals 4: Is it Wednesday yet?

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We know it’ll be the Rockies, and Zack Greinke is the starter. That’s all rather more important than the result here.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Record: 92-69. Pace: 93-69. Change on 2016: +24.

The Colorado Rockies will be coming to Chase Field on Wednesday for the National League wild-card game on Wednesday night. That was locked up this afternoon, after the Milwaukee Brewers blew a six-run lead in St. Louis, going down 7-6 to the Cardinals. That eliminated the Brewers from contention, regardless of the result of the Rockies’ game against the Dodgers, and completed the line-up for the 2017 MLB post-season. Tomorrow’s games will be one big dose of wall-to-wall meaningless noise, save perhaps Giancarlo Stanton’s quest for 60 homers. At least we won’t be alone in our ennui.

Tonight in Kansas City, Taijuan Walker was the man on the mound for Arizona, but as last night, manager Torey Lovullo made it clear beforehand that this would be a truncated outing. He was true to his word, Walker leaving after 76 pitches, throwing one more than Zack Greinke last night. This outing was a bit more impressive than Zack’s, with Walker’s curveball in particular looking rather good. We’ll see whether that plays into Lovullo’s rotation decisions, should the Diamondbacks be good enough to progress beyond the wild-card game on Wednesday.

The theme for this evening though, was more likely the D-backs futility with runners in scoring position. Over the last three games, including the walk-off win against San Francisco, Arizona are 1-for-23 with RISP. If I know it’s something of a gambler’s fallacy, I actually find myself kinda glad they are “getting it out of their system” now. I’d probably be more worried if they went into the playoff on a hot streak, concerned that it wasn’t going to last. In this contest, it started after David Peralta’s lead-off double in the top of the first. The next three batters went fly ball, fly ball, strikeout, and Peralta was left standing on third-base.

Neither side made much other noise through the first three innings. In the top of the fourth, Arizona once again threatened. With one out, J.D. Martinez singled, extending his hitting streak to eight games, and Jake Lamb was just grazed by a pitch on his back foot. Once again, the team were unable to come up with the big hit, A.J. Pollock and Daniel Descalso both going down swinging. The home half started with Walker issuing his only walk of the day. Unfortunately, it proved a costly one, as it was followed by a single and a stolen-base to put men on the corners.. That allowed Kansas City to take the lead, even though Walker was able to dial up a ground-ball double-play.

The D-backs did respond immediately, and in very similar fashion, with a lead-off walk and a stolen base being key factors. Rey Fuentes was responsible for both of those, and scored easily on Peralta’s second double of the game, down into the right field corner. Arizona was then able to take the lead their next time up, courtesy of Pollock’s fourteenth home-run of the season, picking on a hanging pitch and depositing it into the left-center bleachers (below), for a 2-1 Arizona lead in the middle of the sixth. Walker had left by this point, having pitched five solid innings, giving up one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts.

You could make a good case Archie saved his worst outing for last, allowing more than two runs in a contest for the first time since moving to the bullpen. All three crossed the plate on a home-run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, though Archie had not looked that impressive, even before that blast. He’d allowed a lead-off single, who then stole second, but was picked off and caught trying to take third-base as well, or things might have been even worse. Two further singles preceded the home-run, and Bradley was lifted after a one-out walk in the seventh. He threw 37 pitches, so Lovullo did seem to be stretching him out for possible longer relief in the playoffs.

Zack Godley stranded that inherited runner, and got the final five outs, needing only 15 pitches to do so. The Diamondbacks pulled to within one run in the eighth, after Pollock walked with two outs, and Descalso followed with an RBI triple down into the right-field corner, making it 4-3. Then, in the ninth, Christian Walker led off with a double which clipped off the third-baseman’s glove, putting the tying run in scoring position with no outs. However, as in the first inning, Arizona were unable to bring him home, not least because Kris Negron popped his bunt attempt back to the pitcher. Ketel Marte flew out, Brandon Drury looked at strike three, and the game was over.

The D-backs did out hit the Royals 8-7, getting more extra-base hits and walks as well, so if you squint from the right angle, it’s possible this could be seen as a moral victory. Peralta had two of the team’s eight hits, with Pollock getting a hit and a walk, though Paul Goldschmidt’s recent struggles continued, going 0-for-3 with a walk, to drop his season average down below .300. As with Bradley and our RISP shortage, let’s hope this is the baseball equivalent of a juice cleanse, and all the toxins are flushed from our system in time for Wednesday.

Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Shoot 'Em Up: Christian Walker, +19,6%
Brotherhood of the Wolf: Peralta, +16.1%; T. Walker, +15.1%; Pollock, +11.7%
The Matrix Reloaded: Archie Bradley, -41.1%
The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Marte, -20.3%; Negron, -15.9%; Drury, -11.4%; Martinez, -11.1%

Definitely one of the quietest Gameday Threads of the year, barely passing 250. Present were: AzDbackfanInDc, BenSharp, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Makakilo, MikeMono, Oldenschoole, SongBird, asteroid, coldblueAZ, edbigghead, hotclaws and onedotfive, so we thank them for their attendance. Comment of the game to coldblueAZ: I have a suspicion they have been waiting with baited breath to use this one ever time Walker took the mound... :)

Final game of the regular season tomorrow - though, of course, not the end of the season! Robbie Ray starts for the Diamondbacks, and I’d be expecting another pitch count in the seventies from him. First pitch is at 12:15pm, Arizona time.