Record: 10-3. Pace: 125-37. Change on 2017: +2.
A falcon, towering in her pride of place,
Was by a mousing owl hawk’d at and kill’d.
And Duncan’s horses--a thing most strange and certain--
Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race,
Turn’d wild in nature,
— Shakespeare, Macbeth
Daniel Descalso made his first ever start batting clean-up tonight in Dodger Stadium. You can imagine what the reaction of the Twitterverse was to this. But, the mad scientist who is Torey Lovullo clearly knew what he was doing. Descalso had two hits, including his second home-run of the season, and drove in four runs, a best for Daniel’s time as a Diamondback. Indeed, we scored two further runs during Descalso’s times at the plate, but he didn’t get credit for those. And Arizona needed them all, and then some, on a night when there was a whole bunch of freaky stuff to talk about. But the bottom line is, it’s now the best start in franchise history.
It began immediately, in the first inning. David Peralta walked, Ketel Marte singled to put two on, with no outs for Arizona in the top half. Then Paul Goldschmidt struck out, and didn’t look good doing it - but Daniel Descalso singled in Peralta to give Arizona a 1-0 lead. That was all for us, as Chris Owings grounded back to the mound for a double-play. Our edge proved short-lived, as Zack Greinke grooved a fastball to the first batter faced, who sent it over the fence, immediately tying things up. The Sedona Red alarm then went off, as Greinke called for a trainer... But after being examined, Zack stayed in the game, then struck out the side - albeit around a single and a hit batter - albeit taking 25 pitches.
He really didn’t seem long for the game, and you’d have got decent odds at this point against Greinke getting his first win of the season. However, the paranoid part of me wonders if the “trainer visit” was some kind of psychological warfare, as after the hit batter, Zack then went into shutdown mode, with the dial set to “max efficiency.” Greinke’s second inning took eight pitches; indeed, the 15 outs he recorded from the second through the sixth needed a total of 53. The only additional damage during that time was a solo home-run. And by then, the Diamondbacks offense had long since delivered free tacos - though that scoring was not exactly humdrum either.
Zack got our four-run third inning started himself, drawing a lead-off walk. After a Peralta single, Marte grounded back to the mound for what should have been another twin-killing. But Kenta Maeda rushed his throw, and after a review, the umpires determined it had pulled the infielder off second, and everyone was safe. That meant the bases were loaded with no outs for Goldschmidt.. who promptly K’d on three straight pitches again. However, Descalso didn’t particularly need to swing the bat this time. Three runs scored during his plate appearance, without a hit: wild pitch + passed ball + sacrifice fly = a 4-1 lead. Doubles by Chris Owings and Jarrod Dyson made it 5-1, ending Maeda’s night.
Although the Dodgers got a run back in the sixth, it was returned with interest on Descalso’s homer, a two-run shot (above) that made the score 7-2 to Arizona at the stretch. With Greinke still at less than 80 pitches and in control, I looked forward to a low-key, stress-free final nine outs. And what did the gods of baseball have to say to that? “Not today...” Greinke walked his first batter to lead off the seventh. Not first of the game. First of the SEASON. A hard-hit ball to third could only be knocked into foul territory by Descalso, and although Greinke did get the first out, pouncing on a swinging bunt and holding the runners, that was the end of his night: 6.1 IP, five hits and one walk, with seven K’s.
Zack was charged with two runs, but was responsible for both men in scoring position. Enter T.J. McFarland, who did get the second out, on a ground-ball to Goldschmidt, again with the runners having to hold. But the D-backs then suffered death by a thousand cuts: an infield single and two ground-balls back up the middle, off McFarland and Archie Bradley, each brought the Dodgers one run closer, before Bradley got a long fly-ball for the third out, with the score 7-5 to the D-backs. More weirdness ensued in the eighth, as Dyson was somehow assessed a strike on a ball that almost hit him, which he didn’t swing at. Nick Ahmed did go deep for his second homer (below), adding an insurance run which would prove to be crucial.
Bradley came out for the eighth, and I have to wonder if his workload - this was his 9th appearance in 13 games - might be catching up. A single and two uncharacteristic Bradley walks [he didn’t have a two-walk outing last year until August 21] loaded the bases, putting the tying run on base with one out. It then looked like he would get out of it, with another groundball heading straight for a tailor-made and inning-ending double-play ball to Nick Ahmed behind second... only for it instead to carom brutally off the bag, and into shallow left-field, for a two-run single. 8-7 Arizona, with the tying run on third, and still one out. Fortunately, Bradley got another ground-ball, and this one was converted. To the ninth!
By this stage, I was nervously pacing around my living-room, wondering what black magic would transpire. I was imagining scenarios were Brad Boxberger would fall into a pool of raw sewage on the way from the bullpen, and be removed for decontamination. But it was relatively normal. He allowed a two-out single, but got a pop-up to - who else? - Descalso, and the D-backs had their tenth consecutive regular season win over the Dodgers. It probably ranks quite highly for tension, and somewhere off the charts for bizarreness. Greinke got his first W, and the word according to Torey Lovullo (view from @FoxSportsAZ below) is that Zack had a bit of twinge in his back, but isn’t expected to miss any time.
☆☆☆: Daniel Descalso - 2-for-4, R, HR, four RBI
☆☆: Brad Boxberger - 1 IP, H, 0 R, K, much-needed Sv (5)
☆: David Peralta - two R, 2-for-4, BB
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Jason Vorhees: Brad Boxberger, +19.1%
Freddie Krueger: Descalso, +17.3%; Peralta, +14.3%; Marte, +13.6%; Greinke (hitting), +12.0%
Leprechaun: Paul Goldschmidt, -14.9%
rustynails77 led all commenters, cracking three digits, while JackWriter and Michael M were above 50. The full roll-call was: AZDovs11, AzRattler, BenSharp, BobDolio, CumulusChoir, DORRITO, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, JTyson, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, LamparT, Michael McDermott, MikeDavisAZ, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, PaulGoldsmith, RobMerrill1992, SongBird, SonomaComa1999, Sprankton, The so-called Beautiful, Wesley Baier, Xerostomia, aldma, asteroid, bbtng, coldblueAZ, dbrowell, edbigghead, hobgobnob, hotclaws, onedotfive, ponus, rustynails77, serg_guillen, since_98 and smartplays. Comment of the night to edbigghead:
With Arizona having clinched a winning road-trip, if you can stand it, the same two teams will be going at it again tomorrow night (though mercifully, with a slightly earlier first pitch, at 6:10pm). Taijuan Walker will be starting for the D-backs, as we have the first of two chances to win our fifth series in a row, while also keeping the Dodgers without a series win. Sounds like a plan to me, though I’ll probably still be rocking backwards and forwards in the corner of our living-room, as I recover from this one...