Record: 82-59. Pace: 94-68. Change on 2016: +24.
The franchise record 13-game winning streak for the Arizona Diamondbacks came to an end tonight at Chase Field. Having swept the team with the best record in baseball twice, as well as the second wild-card team... If course, it was ended by an opponent with a losing record, putting out a starter with a 6.71 ERA, who hadn’t won a game this season. But the defeat here sprung largely from an unexpected source. Patrick Corbin had been so good over his last five outings, allowing two earned runs over 35.2 innings of work, fell apart with two outs in the fourth. If San Diego had not run into a third out on the basepaths, they might still be hitting.
Initially, things looked promising. Corbin worked round a two-out double in the top of the first, and the D-backs had two on with one out in the bottom half. Ketel Marte legged out an infield single to short, and Jake Lamb followed up with a single. But by the next time an Arizona batter reached base, they were eight runs down. The Padres threatened in the third, a lead-off double being bunted over to third. The next hitter struck out swinging, but a dropped third strike meant Chris Herrmann had to to throw to first to complete the out. The runner on third hared home, and Daniel Descalso’s throw back to Herrmann was just in time. Cross this off on Scorecard Bingo.
Having avoided disaster, hopes were high Corbin would settle in and deliver the kind of performance he had over the past month. He retired the first two men in the fourth, then seven straight San Diego hitters reached base. After a pair of two-out singles, Corbin walked the #8 hitter. If not an intentional walk, we were comfortable enough, not least because Patrick had carved up his opposite number in the second inning, striking him out on three consecutive strikes looking. But Jordan Lyles won the second round, flipping the ball into right center for a two-run single. This was death by bloops, but Corbin seemed rattled, and harder hits followed. A two-run triple, RBI single and two-run single then followed, the last hitter charitably being thrown out at second.
The fifth started no better, with the first three San Diego batters going double, RBI double, single. If you’re keeping score at home (rather than simply being reduced to drinking heavily), that would now be TEN consecutive Padres who had reached base off Corbin. An RBI groundout broke the streak, and also ended Patrick’s night. His final line was 4.1 innings of work, with eight runs allowed, all earned, on 11 hits and three walks with three strikeouts. BABIP certainly didn’t do him any favors - a figure of .579 on the night - but Corbin’s slider didn’t seem to have the “bite” we’ve come to expect, with San Diego making better contact than we’ve seen.
Silvino Bracho took over, and barely managed to escape further damage. The first two outs in the bottom of the fifth went quietly, with Arizona still 8-0 down. This seemed like the winning streak was going to end in a cacophony of wet, sucking sounds. But the D-backs offense suddenly showed surprising fight. Two outs later, they had the tying run in scoring position. This started from a pair of thoroughly unexpected sources: Herrmann singled, and pinch-hitter Rey Fuentes delivered this third home-run of the season. Hooray! We’re not going to be shutout, at least. But the Arizona bats were only getting started.
Next time up, in the bottom of the sixth, Marte and Lamb opened up with back to back doubles, making it 8-3 and chasing Lyles. J.D. Martinez greeted the San Diego bullpen, doing that J.D. Martinez thing, and homering to right, his nineteenth since becoming a D-back. 8-5. Descalso just missed one of his own down the line in right, and settled for a double. After an out, Brandon Drury doubled Descalso home. 8-6. Pinch-hitter Adam Rosales singled, and Chris Iannetta came off the bench and walked, loading the bases - still with only one out. Chase Field was in a frenzy, knowning the Diamondbacks were a bloop single from erasing an eight-run deficit.
The entire stadium hoped they’d see Paul Goldschmidt come off the bench. That he didn’t appear is, perhaps, a bit concerning. Instead, Torey Lovullo sent up Gregor Blanco, who continued his recent streak of failure - he’s batting .188 since August 1 - with a shallow fly-out. Marte then got his second at-bat of the inning, but this was less productive, as he struck out swinging, and the three on base were stranded. Hopes of a further comeback were dampened as the Padres responded in the seventh, J.J. Hoover allowing a two-run single on an 0-2 pitch. [There was some doubt about the HBP which loaded the bases, when it seemed the batter had offered at the pitch.]
Arizona put their first two on in the bottom of the seventh, but that was it. There was to be no more heroics to salvage the winning streak, the last nine Diamondbacks’ hitters up being retired in order. There was to be no joy in Phoenix - the mighty Diamondbacks, after 13 wins a row, finally struck out. Lamb had two hits and a walk, while Marte had a pair of hits. Jimmie Sherfy pitched the top of the ninth, and tied a major league record because he has yet to allow a base-runner over his first four appearances. He’s one of nine pitchers to have done that (including Eury De La Rosa, who pitched for us in 2013). His IP (5) and K’s (6) are the most among the nine.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Lionheart: Jake Lamb, +8.9%
The Cowardly Lion: Patrick Corbin, -30.2%
Clarence the Cross-eyed Lion: Pollock, -12.4%; Blanco, -11.6%; Hoover, -10.3%
A lighter Gameday Thread than usual - most of the usual suspects were at the ballpark for SnakePitFest, limiting their comment count! But present in the GDT were: BigSmarty, Cumulus Choir, Diamondhacks, Greinkeschmidt, GuruB, Imstillhungry95, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, Justin27, LamparT, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, Oldenschoole, PaulGoldsmith, SedonaRed24, TinySarabia, asteroid, coldblueAZ, hotclaws, onedotfive, since_98 and soco. Nothing appears to have reached the level of Sedona Red, so we’ll withhold Comment of the Night, in memoriam of the win streak ending!
Speaking of SnakePitFest (presented by the asteroids), it was a blast as ever. Good turnout, with a number of new faces I had never met before - shout-outs to them in particular, Keegan Thompson, JoeCB1991, Hazzard21 and smartplays. Great to be able to put faces to names! Many, many thanks as ever to the asteroids for donating their unused season tix and making it possible, and to the staff at the Rose & Crown for putting up with our rambunctious group! Pic below from there: caption to follow tomorrow, but it’s already a bit late, and I’m “tired and emotional.” :)