Record: 12-5. Pace: 114-48. Change on 2017: +2.
Apparently the roof and panels being open tonight only favored the San Francisco Giants.
There have been concerns expressed over Robbie Ray to begin this season after a drop in velocity and control issues over his first three starts, although he began 2017 slowly as well. His command problems trickled into the first two innings of his start tonight against the San Francisco Giants with a six pitch walk to Austin Jackson to begin the game, but he settled in nicely from the 3rd inning on and began to show signs of his dominant form from last season. His fastball was missing high on the arm side to begin the contest, and he was forced to pitch out of traffic around him in the 2nd and 3rd innings.
Evan Longoria laced a leadoff double down the left field line on the first pitch of the 2nd inning, and Robbie hit Brandon Belt in the triceps area with the very next pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs. Bob quickly erased the threat with strikeouts to Kelby Tomlinson and Chris Stratton as well as a Brandon Crawford groundout. The three outs in that inning took only 10 pitches. With the strikeout to Stratton to eliminate the scoring threat, Robbie Ray became the fourth fastest left handed pitcher, starter or reliever, measured by innings pitched, to reach 600 career strikeouts according to the Fox Sports Arizona Broadcast.
The 3rd inning began rather efficiently for Ray as he retired Jackson and Hunter Pence on a strikeout and a groundout, respectively. However, Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey followed with back to back singles, and Evan Longoria drew a 4 pitch walk to load the bases with two outs. Robbie walked the tightrope for a second consecutive inning, and retired Brandon Belt on a strikeout with a sweeping slider away bringing back the devastating pitch movement we saw from him last season.
The Diamondbacks made a handful of stellar defensive plays behind the left handed pitcher tonight demonstrating one aspect of the teams’ early season success. In the 4th inning, Daniel Descalso snagged a Tomlinson liner to third for the first out, and on the very next pitch David Peralta made an impressive running catch at the warning track to rob Crawford of a double. The following inning, Andrew McCutchen lined a bullet to shortstop Nick Ahmed which popped out of his glove, but Ahmed stuck with the play and made a strong throw to Paul Goldschmidt at first. Goldy was pulled off the bag and attempted a sweeping tag on McCutchen who was initially called safe, but a challenge from Torey Lovullo overturned that call to end the 5th. A few innings later in the 7th, Descalso knocked down another liner at the scorching hot corner, quickly gathered his feet, and threw to Marte at second who turned a double play.
This game remained scoreless into the the 6th until Bob Brenly announced to the universe how comfortable Evan Longoria looked at the plate, and that it was only a matter of time for him to turn his early season woes around. With Posey standing at first after a leadoff walk, Longoria obliged the broadcaster with a two run shot to the left field bleachers giving the Giants a two-to-nothing lead. Robbie ray finished out his evening after six innings pitched allowing five hits and three walks on nine strikeouts.
Arizona had only two hits up to that point with neither advancing past first base. Their first baserunner to do so was David Peralta in the 6th who reached second on an error after Pence misplayed a flyout with two outs already in the inning. Ketel Marte followed with a groundout, as Shoe pointed out that this has become an early season issue for him, and this would begin a string of missed opportunities by the Diamondbacks with runners in scoring position. Goldy began the bottom of the 7th with a sinking liner to Jackson in centerfield who was caught between charging and playing it on the hop. The hit skipped under his glove allowing Goldy to turn it into a leadoff double. However, he was left stranded there after strikeouts from A.J. Pollock and Alex Avila as well as a flyout from Descalso. For Avila, that strikeout was his third in the game.
Ahmed repeated the leadoff double opportunity in the 8th with his own off the right field wall, but this time the Diamondbacks were able to capitalize on the opportunity when Jarrod Dyson followed with a triple off the centerfield wall to cut the Giants’ lead down to one run. Tony Watson was brought in to relieve starter Chris Stratton who pitched a respectable seven innings of one run ball on five hits, eight strikeouts, and no walks. Watson quickly retired pinch hitter Chris Owings on a popout in foul territory. Peralta was able to reach on an infield single to first baseman Brandon Belt because Watson failed to cover first base. Rather surprisingly Dyson did not run on contact and remained on third. Marte ended the inning with a double play on yet another ground ball leaving Dyson stranded on third.
For the third consecutive inning, the Diamondbacks lead off their half of the frame with a double when Goldy hit one to centerfield in the 9th. That would mark Goldschmidt’s second extra base hit off of Hunter Strickland in the 9th inning this season after Paul’s home run last week off of him to tie the game. Pollock followed through with his own double off the right field wall to score Goldy from second and tie the game at two apiece. Descalso moved him to third with a flyout, but Alex Avila donned the golden sombrero after that at bat with his fourth strikeout of the game. Dyson was unable to send home the winning run grounding out to end the inning after a walk from Ahmed, so on to free baseball we went.
In a non-save situation, Brad Boxberger surrendered his first earned runs of the season by giving up a leadoff single to McCutchen followed by a two run homer to right field by Belt two batters later. Arizona at least made it interesting in their chance in extras with a fourth consecutive leadoff double, this time from pinch hitter John Ryan Murphy. Peralta doubled him home to put the tying run in scoring position yet again with no outs. Ketel Marte, like clockwork lately, grounded out moving Peralta over to third. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy wisely elected to walk Goldy to put runners on the corners. Relief pitcher Corey Gearrin could not appear to get on the same page with catcher Buster Posey, and the two got into a bit of a heated discussion on the way to the mound during the inning. Descalso was able to draw a walk after a strikeout from Pollock to load the bases with two outs bringing the hapless Alex Avila to the plate. But tonight the baseball gods elected to show mercy to Avila and allow him to end the game with a groundout to first as opposed to his fifth strikeout of the game.
☆☆☆: David Peralta - 3-for-5, 1 RBI, 2B, nice running catch at the warning track
☆☆: Daniel Descalso - 1-for-4, BB, two strong defensive plays at the hot corner
☆: Ketel Marte and Alex Avila - 0-for-10, 4 K’s, GIDP
High efficiency washing machine: David Peralta 34.1 %, Paul Goldschmidt 33.9%
Community Laundromat: Alex Avila -59.7%, Ketel Marte -47.4%
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A few side notes. Give Ketel Marte and Alex Avila time. They will turn it around. Marte needs to stop pounding the ball into the ground. Avila needs to just not suck.
CoTN goes to Shoe for his astute and predictive observation.