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Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 0: Sweep(ing) Slider

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Much has been mentioned about the humidor and its potential reduction of home runs at Chase Field. Today, Patrick Corbin demonstrated why we should pay attention to its effect on the pitching staff.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Record: 5-1. Pace: 135-27. Change on 2017: 0.

Today I cut loose from work early to take advantage of the Arizona Sports $9.87 matinee game ticket special. I had originally planned on viewing the game from the comfort of my couch, but it was difficult to pass up a deal that great when parking in the Jefferson St. garage costs more than the price of admission. That proved to be a wise decision because I was witness to Patrick Corbin’s dominance in person. John Gambadoro and the Arizona Sports crew made their rounds to say hello to fans in the designated section 107 during the early innings of the game. As documented on the AZ Snake Pit Twitter page, the handheld scanners that Chase Field employees use to verify electronic tickets were having a difficult time today and caused an unusual delay upon entering the stadium.

For the first time this season, neither the roof or panels were open at Chase Field much to my disappointment. There were no home runs hit in this game, and I would venture to say there are a handful of viewers who would attribute that to both the humidor and roof status, but the real story should focus around Corbin’s effectiveness.

Corbin breezed through the first inning by getting Chris Taylor to fly out on the first pitch of the game, inducing a Corey Seager ground out on two pitches, and striking out Yasiel Puig on five pitches. Cross those off of your baseball bingo card. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks wasted no time in their half of the first frame when Jarrod Dyson, surprisingly taking a start in left field with a left hander on the mound, doubled to right field in the leadoff position. So much for sitting Dyson against a southpaw. Puig’s arm was no match for Dyson’s speed as he was able to beat the tag sliding into second. Consecutive ground outs from Ketel Marte and Paul Goldschmidt would allow Dyson to score and give the Diamondbacks the early 1-0 lead.

By the time the Dodger half of the second inning had concluded, it was apparent this would be one of Corbin’s dominant days for he struck out the side requiring only fifteen pitches to do so. Both Yasmani Grandal and Matt Kemp failed to make contact with the slider for third pitch strikes. Before the season began, we discussed Arizona’s starting pitchers and their increased usage of successful secondary pitches. Patrick’s devastating slider was one of the pitches highlighted, and nine of his fifteen pitches thrown that inning featured the secondary offspeed offering. When it was announced last season that Chase Field would have a humidor installed, the front office said that the hope was to improve pitchers’ grip on the baseball, not reduce offense, after soliciting the opinions of players who had pitched in Arizona previously. In my opinion, it may have allowed him to throw the slider with conviction this afternoon.

The Diamondbacks kept their foot on the pedal with another leadoff double in the bottom of the second this time from Chris Owings. Owings successfully stole third base, and was later driven in on a sacrifice fly from Deven Marrero to expand the lead 2-0.

After continuing to hold the Dodgers hitless with two additional strikeouts in the third, Corbin doubled loudly to left field and was able to secure a hit himself before the opposing offense. Three innings, three leadoff doubles for the Diamondbacks. Dyson moved Corbin over with a sacrifice bunt, and Marte extended the early lead to 3 with a single to follow.

From that point forward this game was all about Corbin and his whipeout slider. He did not allow a single baserunner until Kemp squeaked out a bloop double barely fair down the first baseline in the fifth inning. Fourteen up and fourteen down for Corbin prior to that stroke of luck for Kemp and the Dodgers. Patrick quickly erased the threat with a three pitch groundout from Logan Forsythe. In a frustrating stroke of events, A.J. Pollock and Owings were doubled off to end the sixth after each man was caught in a rundown.

Patrick’s day was finished after completing 7 & 13 innings. The home field crowd gave him a standing ovation for a career high twelve strikeouts. He secured first pitch strikes on 16 of the 21 batters he faced, and Kemp was the only Dodger he allowed to reach base with the fifth inning double and eighth inning walk to conclude his day. As the game progressed forward, Dodgers hitters became increasingly frustrated as Corbin carved through them with ease. Both Puig and Kike Hernandez were called out on strikes on check swings after appeals to first base umpire Brian Knight in the seventh inning. Puig’s stroll back to the visitor’s dugout quite possibly took longer to complete than a few of Patrick’s innings, and Hernandez was not ejected after slamming down every piece of his equipment in protest.

Special thanks to Ryan P. Morrison of Inside the Zona for keeping track of Corbin’s slider usage as the game progressed. It would appear as if the trend from last season, increased usage of successful offspeed offerings, is spilling over into the early part of the 2018 season. This will be the Arizona Diamondbacks bread and butter going forward if the pitching staff is to replicate its success from the 2017 season. Although it was only his second start on the season, Patrick is making his case to the entire league prior to his first chance at free agency this offseason. Perhaps he will deserve a qualifying offer from the Diamondbacks when the dust of the 2018 season settles?

This game finished in a crisp 2 hours and 25 minutes in front of a respectable weekday matinee crowd of 25,574. Both Corbin today and Zack Godley yesterday gave the Diamondbacks’ bullpen some much needed rest after the marathon fifteen inning game Monday evening to complete the series sweep against the Los Angeles Dodgers. As a matter of fact, both of those games combined were 33 minutes shorter than the Monday night adventure, so all is right in the world again.

Snake Stars

☆☆☆: Patrick Corbin: 7.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 K

☆☆: Patrick Corbin: 2-for-2, 2B, 1 Run

☆: Jarrod Dyson: Leadoff double against a left handed pitcher?!?!

Corbin’s Dominant Slider: Patrick Corbin +36.9% on the mound, +5.4% at the plate

Corbin’s Almost Extinct Changeup: Daniel Descalso -3.7%

CoTD to Michael McD for the second game in a row. “He’s right you know.” Morgan Freeman voice

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