A familiar opponent walked into Chase Field today, as game 1 of 19 against the Los Angeles Dodgers went the way of the good guys. The team stayed resilient, which led to the longest game in Chase Field history. The 2018 Dodgers-Diamondbacks series will not start off like it ended. While only being 4 games into the season, the humidor effect seems to be real. It may be an overreaction, but it seems like it will damper power expectations for whatever team is at Chase Field.
Taijuan Walker had a really rough start to the game, allowing three runs in the first inning. Walker was not necessarily active in terms of pitching to contact. The tone was set from the beginning as Walker delivered high 90’s fastballs in the upper part of the zone. Joc Pederson has owned Taijuan Walker and that showed as Pederson worked the count and ripped a ball for a single. After Corey Seager drove Pederson in, Yasmani Grandal dropped a tank into the pool area. It seemed as if Walker tried to sneak a fastball in on Grandal, however as Bob Brenly pointed out on the broadcast, it snuck back into the lower corner of the plate.
Walker and Hyun Jin Ryu seemed to pitch two completely opposite games. Ryu pitched well in the early part of the game before getting pulled after 3 and 2/3rds. Walker however, was able to make it through 5 after a rocky first inning. A.J. Pollock was the first D-Back to take advantage of Ryu as he lined one to Matt Kemp allowing Paul Goldschmidt to score. In the 3rd, Jake Lamb would walk scoring Ketel Marte.
Speaking of Marte, he was able to get past his first series struggles as he finished with 2 triples. The second, coming on an absolutely textbook swing. He took Ryu’s 70mph curveball the other way, Marte kept his weight back and delivered a strike.
For the bullpen, it is not looking so hot. Archie Bradley’s usage was certainly one of the biggest questions I had before the season. With an appearance in the 11th, it seems that Lovullo is throwing caution to the wind. It will be hard for Torey Lovullo to keep Bradley off of the mound, especially when Yoshi Hirano, Andrew Chafin, and T.J. McFarland all got tabbed for a run. Hirano’s run coming off of an absolute bomb from Logan Forsythe. Fernando Salas was able to be used as a long reliever, but if it wasn't for Jeff Mathis we wouldn't be praising Salas.
Kenley Jansen and his decreasing cutter velocity made it rather interesting in the 9th as Goldy reached on a single and took second base. Pollock would reach base as well and be driven in by a Chris Owings homerun. Lovullo surprised me when tabbing Brad Boxberger out of the bullpen in the 10th. Boxberger has a history of injuries so his usage rate will be key this year, even though he made light work of the Dodgers. Bradley was great even while allowing a single to Cody Bellinger to lead off the 11th. As the 15th inning came, Chase Utley was able to score Cody Bellinger which was seemed to be the end. The 15th inning was all she wrote as Nick Ahmed scored Jake Lamb and Jeff Mathis walked it off with a single.
☆☆☆: Jeff Mathis: 1-1, Walk Off RBI Single, *Our Savior*
☆☆: Chris Owings: 1-5, 3 RBI, Game-Tying HR
☆: Ketel Marte: 3-7, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 3B
The roll-call tool appears to have gone home early, registering only about half of the 1,147 total comments today from the Gameday thread, which hinted at my AZ Snake Pit demise if we lost. So if you showed up late you are probably not in this list: we still thank you for your efforts! But present to that point were AZDovs11, AzRattler, CumulusChoir, DORRITO, Dcarbajal, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, Red Reign, Smurf1000, SonomaComa1999, Sprankton, Wesley Baier, Wildcats4Life13, aldma, asteroid, coldblueAZ, edbigghead, hotclaws, kilnborn, luckycc, onedotfive, rustynails77, shoewizard, since_98, smartplays and suroeste, with my favorite comment coming from Cumulus Choir:
Similarly, Fangraphs went to sleep before the game ended, so we’ll provide the winners and losers there tomorrow, once the stats have been finalized.
Even though a win is nice, there are some things to discuss. The humidor will be an interesting thing to follow this year. Nick Ahmed seemed to have rocked a ball to left field, but it slowly died as Matt Kemp was able to get under it for an out. Even the Chris Owings homerun wasn't crushed like it sounded coming off of the bat. The metrics won’t be available for a long time. One way we can try to understand the humidor is through the amazing StatCast metrics including exit velocity, and launch angle.
With a team that has perhaps the best 1-4 hitters in the N.L., it is rather concerning to see the lack of production from the bottom half of the lineup. Even though they came up big in the 10th and 15th, it is still something to look at. The return of Steven Souza Jr will prove vital as it allows the lineup to change drastically.
In the end, this team never quits. Who would have thought that the longest game in Chase Field history would end with a Jeff Mathis walk-off single.