Record: 2-1. Pace: 108-54. Change on 2017: 0.
On the 20th anniversary of the franchise’s first game, we faced the same opponent in the same location. Although the margin was considerably closer this time, the end result was the same: defeat for Arizona. Even though the D-backs won the series, I’m going to over-react violently to small sample sizes, and question the wisdom of the humidor after three games in which the Rockies out-homered the Diamondbacks by a margin of 7-1. While Zack Greinke pitched by no means badly, a pair of solo home-runs from Charlie Blackmon proved the difference maker here, the second coming after Torey Lovullo left Fernando Salas in to face Blackmon.
I largely missed the early innings of this, having been at Mrs. SnakePit-in-Law’s 89th birthday, which took place up in the restaurant at Deer Valley Airport. I was unaware that Deer Valley had an airport. It does, complete with a terminal and everything, though I didn’t see a single person in it. The restaurant is cool though, right by the runway, so you can see the planes taking off: Mrs. SnakePit-in-Law loves that, which is why we had it there. Fortunately, they do have wifi, so I quietly booted up FoxSportsGo on the phone, and was able to keep an eye on the game there. Just don’t expect a detailed scouting report on Greinke based on a six-inch screen.
Seems like both starting pitchers were doing a good job at keeping the opposition in check, with neither side able to score through the front five innings. Both sides did have a chance in the first, getting a runner in scoring position early: the Rockies with one out, the D-backs with none, after hits by David Peralta and A.J. Pollock. However, there would be no continuation of the early game dominance the D-backs showed over the previous two games. Paul Goldschmidt struck out looking as part of the subsequent waste of that opportunuity, and his tough start to the season continues: he’s still looking for his first hit, gaving gone 0-for-8 with five strikeouts.
The D-backs took the lead in the bottom of the fourth, taking advantage of some sloppy Rockies’ infield play. A one-out single by Daniel Descalso was then followed by a ground-ball off the bat of Jarrod Dyson, which Trevor Story couldn’t handle: I’m thinking Dyson’s speed may have been a factor in the misplay. That put runners on the corners with one out. Nick Ahmed followed with another ground-ball to Story, but was able to leg it out, and beat the throw to first, which allowed Descalso to score from third. That was Ahmed’s sixth RBI of the season: I will therefore present you with the following, in a format suitable for framing. Otherwise, future generations will likely doubt it ever happened.
That, unfortunately, was as good as this got. Greinke continued to pitch well: through five innings, that one-out double in the first was the only Colorado hitter to advance past first base. The D-backs wasted another potential opportunity in the bottom of the fifth after Peralta and Pollock drew consecutive walks. Just a pity that the Freight Train got himself picked off first in between them. The Rockies then wasted no time, Blackmon ambushing a first pitch curveball from Greinke somewhere over 400 ft, tying the game. A two-out single ended Zack’s day: he had thrown 83 pitches, but Torey Lovullo didn’t want to push him too far. Greinke fanned nine over 5.2 innings, allowing a run on five hits with no walks.
That made it a bullpen battle. Jorge De La Rosa tidied up the sixth, and we then got to see the much-vaunted new (and very expensive) Rockies bullpen for the first time in a close game. I think we can say they delivered, as Chris Rusin, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee and Wade Davis faced the minimum over the final four innings. The Diamondbacks managed a Jarrod Dyson walk and Chris Owings single; however, they were erased by double-play balls off the bat of Nick Ahmed and Peralta. Fernando Salas took over from De La Rosa, and worked a clean seventh. He faced a right-handed pinch-hitter off the bench, and with Andrew Chafin all warmed up, everyone expected Lovullo to go to Chafin to face Blackmon.
Andrew has actually faced the hairy monster more than any other batter, and especially of late, has had the best of the match-up. Blackmon is .222/.300/.278, for a .578, and hasn’t managed a hit the last six times he has faced Chafin. But Lovullo, seeing two more right-handers after Blackmon (and with Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano both unavailable this evening), rolled the dice with Salas. The decision backfired immediately, as Blackmon delivered another souvenir to the bleachers. Salas did get both the right-handed batters, but the damage had been done. Of note: at 43 pitches, it was his longest outing in the majors for almost five years, since throwing a career high 44 on April 3, 2013.
The Rockies’ bullpen buzz-sawed their way through the final six D-backs, while Chafin did eventually get into the game, throwing a 1-2-3 ninth. But as two decades ago, the visitors came out on top, though I’ll settle for winning two out of three at home. Do that, plus half your road-games, and you’ll be in the post-season.
☆☆☆: Zack Greinke: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K
☆☆: No award
☆: Nick Ahmed, 1-for-4, 2B, RBI
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
2001 D-backs: Zack Greinke, +19.5%
2004 D-backs: Daniel Descalso, -15.1%
1998 D-backs: Lamb, -13.6%; Goldschmidt, -13.2%, Peralta, -11.0%
547 total comments in the GDT, even with me being otherwise engaged (there may be a video of me signing “Happy Birthday” on helium somewhere on the Internet...). Present were: AZDovs11, AzDbackfanInDc, AzRattler, CumulusChoir, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeDavisAZ, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, SongBird, SonomaComa1999, Sprankton, TRTFSHR, Xerostomia, asteroid, coldblueAZ, david.munter, onedotfive, preston.salisbury, shoewizard, smartplays and suroeste. Top commend to coldblueAZ, who lived up to the first part of their name with this.
A weird day off on a Sunday tomorrow, before the Dodgers come to town for a three-game set, beginning on Monday. But since it’s the 20th anniversary, I asked on Twitter what people were doing on this day in 1998. Here are a selection of the responses...
Inside the womb— MY DEAR MELANCHOLY (@Ripaldi44) March 31, 2018
Section 103, drinking hot chocolate, it was freezing!— TheCube27 (@thecube27) March 31, 2018
Watching RAW is War on a Monday during the attitude era— Jason McKay (@TankforAyton) March 31, 2018