Record: 6-2. Pace: 122-40. Change on 2017: 0.
It looks like I will have to pass recap duties over to someone else for the rest of the season. It’s nothing personal, just science. Because the Arizona Diamondbacks are now 0-2 when I write about the game... and are 6-0 whenever anyone else does. I am willing to accept full responsibility for this. Next scheduled recap, I will be by the pool, well away from any keyboards or similar devices. It’s the least I can do... No, really. You probably don’t want to hear about this one anyway. Wouldn’t you prefer it if I reviewed The Titan, which we watched on Netflix last night? I mean, it wasn’t very good, but it did a better job of holding my attention than this game.
And, it had started so well too. No, I mean the game, not the movie. The D-backs had a chance to break things open early, showing good plate discipline against Michael Wacha. In the end, they drew three walks in a 30-pitch first inning. But all Arizona had to show for it was an A.J. Pollock RBI single, as Chris Owings struck out looking and Jarrod Dyson grounded out, both with the bases loaded. The Cardinals immediately tied the game up i the bottom of the first, though Zack Greinke was largely BABIP’d to death: the three hits which he allowed, including the RBI single which got St. Louis on the board, had exit velocities of 77, 81 and 86 mph, not exactly hard-hit.
After a scoreless second on both sides (though Greinke walked and advanced on a balk!), the D-backs took the lead again in the third. Owings came through this time, his two-out single scoring Pollock from second. But the lead was even more short-lived this time through. Second time through the order, Greinke was not fooling the Cardinals anywhere near as much, and there was a lot of very solid contact being made against Zack. Five of the first six batters up got hits, the other tying the game up with a sacrifice fly. The big blow was a three-run homer by Jose Martinez: especially aggravating because it came on a 90 mph fatball (I’ll leave that appropriate typo where it fell) on an 0-2 count. 5-2 Cardinals.
It has to be said, home-plate umpire Mike Winters was having a real stinker of a game, with both sides having legitimate cause for complaint. While I won’t be doing Blown Calls of the Week again this season (I think the point was made well enough!), I do want to draw your attention to the pitch below.
It was so horribly and egregiously blown, I was forced to think that there was some kind of measuring error at play here. Surely, no umpire could really be so blind or incompetent as to miss calling a pitch that badly? Well, turns out Mike Winters is:
When I was a little league umpire, I'd sometimes call this a ball too. pic.twitter.com/xkZnp9ZfKi— Chris Rongey (@ChrisRongey) April 7, 2018
If you’d turned off the game at that point, I doubt anyone would have blamed you, and to be honest, you wouldn’t have missed much the rest of the way. While the damage had been done, Greinke did regroup, retiring eight in a row before a lead-off single in the sixth marked the end of his afternoon. He scattered nine hits, but didn’t walk any, striking out five, and was charged with five runs, all earned. A BABIP of .444 (eight hits on 18 balls in play) certainly suggests luck was not on his side, though as noted above, there was perhaps one ball not hard-hit during that four-run third inning.
Matt Koch made his 2018 debut, and it went considerably better than his 2017 one - though “retiring a batter” pretty much locked that honor down. He pitched a pair of hitless innings, striking out three, and did nothing to suggest that we won’t be seeing him again soon. For his reward was a ticket to Reno immediately after the game, Koch being optioned there. While there’s no official word on his replacement, word is that it’s likely to be infielder Christian Walker, redressing the balance of bullpen and bench to 7-5 [Koch’s call-up came after the 15-inning game] Fernando Salas chipped in with a scoreless eighth.
As in the first inning, the D-backs hitters weren’t able to get the big hit when they had the opportunities. They sent only one batter over the minimum to the plate in the fourth through seventh innings (though Paul Goldschmidt did get a hit, and his batting average no longer starts .0!). But Arizona put the first two men on in the eighth, and pulled to within two on an Owings’ RBI groundout, before Jeff Mathis grounded out with the tying run on base. Ketel Marte doubled with two outs in the ninth, only for Goldy to stare at strike 3 (above), and end the game. Despite seven walks - a season high for a regulation game - hard to win when you go 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
☆☆☆: A.J. Pollock - 2-for-3, R, RBI, BB
☆☆: Matt Koch - 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO
☆: Paul Goldschimdt - 1-for-4, R, BB
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Roald Amundsen: A.J. Pollock, +16.6%
Robert Falcon Scott: Zack Greinke, -36.1%
Lawrence Oates: Jarrod Dyson, -10.1%
Thanks to the commenters who managed to figure out the really weird start time today. Jackwriter led the way, he and CumulusChoir cracking 50 apiece. The full list of participants is: AZDovs11, Anachronistic1, CumulusChoir, DBacksEurope, DORRITO, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, JoelPre, Joey Lewis, Keegan Thompson, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, SongBird, SonomaComa1999, Wesley Baier, hotclaws, kilnborn, onedotfive, shoewizard, since_98 and suroeste. Nothing got more than two recs, so no Comment of the Thread. It’s about what the game deserved.
Tomorrow - weather very much permitting - it’s the rubber game of the series, once more with an awkward 11:15 am first pitch. Taijuan Walker starts for the Diamondbacks.