Record: 24-12. Pace: 108-54. Change on 2017: +4.
Patrick Corbin’s velocity took a bit of a dip from its early season average last Thursday, and it was again a topic of conversation of tonight. He had been sitting around 92-94 mph in his first handful of starts, but in his previous start and tonight he was averaging 88-91 mph. Tonight he had difficulty locating the fastball resulting in him falling behind hitters and not allowing him to utilize his dominant slider to put hitters away as he was to begin the season.
Today would have been Tony Gwynn’s 58th birthday. He was the last player to hit an inside the park home run off of a Dodger left handed pitcher doing so on June 26th, 1997. It was a grand slam off of Mark Guthrie. Nearly 21 years later Nick Ahmed honored his memory by hitting his own inside the park home run off of Dodger lefty starter Alex Wood. He came within inches of hitting it over the center field wall. Kike Hernadez was running hard back towards the wall in attempt to catch it but slammed into the wall before he could intersect the baseball. Puig had to run all the way over to get the ball back to the cutoff man from center field. It was the 15th inside the park home run in Diamondbacks’ history, and gave Arizona an early 1-0 lead.
Corbin walked Chris Taylor on four straight fastballs to begin the game, but quickly retired Hernandez and Matt Kemp on a strikeout and fly out, respectively. Taylor attempted to steal second base with two outs and was initially ruled safe by umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. Torey Lovullo challenged the call, and it was easily overturned after review to end the inning. Lovullo is now 9-for-13 in challenges this season. After walking the first batter he faced, Corbin retired the next eight Dodger batters, four of them by way of the strikeout.
As has been a recurring theme lately, the D’backs had opportunities with runners in scoring position and less than two outs, but failed to come through with timely hits to plate a runner. Ketel Marte led off the 2nd with a line single up the middle and advanced to third base on a Deven Marrero single to Kemp in left, who whiffed on the ball. Alex Avila was able to work a full count in his at bat, but was called out on a third strike possibly below the bottom of the strikezone. Wood quickly disposed of Corbin and Chris Owings to end the threat in the 2nd with no added damage. Wood loaded the bases in the 3rd with one out by walking Paul Goldschmidt and Steven Souza Jr., and giving up a single to A.J. Pollock in between those two walks. However, Arizona failed to capitalize again because Marte grounded into a double play on the first pitch to let Los Angeles off the hook.
The tightrope act from Corbin began in the 4th inning as his command issues came to a head. The decreased velocity and lack of command on his fastball did not allow him to work ahead with his slider and put hitters away. He once again allowed Taylor to reach to lead off the inning this time with a single up the middle, and he successfully stole second base on the very next pitch. After retiring Hernandez, Corbin quickly got ahead of Kemp 0-2 on his curve and slider. He tried to get him to chase at two consecutive back foot sliders, but Kemp would not bite and watched four consecutive balls to draw a walk. Yasmani Grandal followed with a walk of his own, but Corbin was able to strike out Cody Bellinger and looked as if he would be able to leave the bases loaded. However, a wild pitch with Austin Barnes up to bat allowed Taylor to score to tie the game at 1 apiece. Corbin later struck out Barnes to limit the damage to 1 run. He required 30 pitches to end the 4th inning.
Living on the edge spilled over into the 5th inning as well. Yasiel Puig, recently activated from the disabled list, lined to left field for a leadoff single and advanced to third on a single to right field from Kyle Farmer. With runners on the corners and no outs, Dave Roberts put in Tim Locastro to pinch hit for his pitcher, but Corbin was able to send him back to the dugout on three straight strikes. Taylor drew a base on balls to reach base for the third time in the game in as many appearances, and Corbin once again faced a bases loaded jam with only a single out. The exhaustion from consecutive high pitch count innings with runners on clearly took its toll on Corbin who began to barely hit 88 mph on his fastball, but he was able to end the Dodger 5th with no additional runs by retiring Hernandez and Kemp. His night was concluded having thrown 96 pitches but only 50 for strikes with 7 strikeouts, 4 walks, and 3 hits.
With the previous contest going 12 innings and the Diamondbacks using every reliever in their bullpen for that game, the relief corps was running on fumes. Fernando Salas took the call for the 6th, but could only retire two of the five batters he faced. Grandal singled up the middle to begin the inning. Salas struck out Bellinger for his third strikeout of the game. Barnes and Puig singled to load the bases for the third inning in a row, and by that point the balancing act had run its course. Farmer drove in Grandal with a sacrifice fly to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Andrew Chafin was brought in and his control woes continued as he walked the only batter he faced. Chafin has now walked four of the last five batters he has opposed without recording a single out over his last three games, and only 8 of his last 26 pitches thrown have been strikes. Silvino Bracho hit Taylor to push the score to 3-1 in favor of L.A. and put Taylor on base for the fourth time in the game. A wild pitch followed afterwards allowing Puig to score.
Arizona attempted to claw their way back into the game in the 7th and it all began with none other than Daniel Descalso, soldier of all rallies. He doubled to right field to begin the frame and moved over to third on a wild pitch. Ahmed walked after an Owings strikeout placing runners on the corners with 1 out. Goldy drove Descalso in with a bloop single placed in the Bermuda Triangle of shallow right field to make it a two run game. Pollock brought the D’backs within one run bringing in Ahmed with a sharp ground out to second base. Souza followed with a walk, and by a string of dumb luck a ground out from Marte, almost a given at this point in the season, instigated another shouting match between the Dodgers bench and Souza. He appeared to think the out was going to be made at first and not second base where he was headed, so when it developed that way he had to take a late slide into second. Something was apparently said again to Souza which resulted in him shouting to explain himself, but nothing else came of it.
Jorge De La Rosa pitched the bottom of the 8th and could not retire the first two batters he faced. In a pinch hit appearance, Chase “Just Retire Already” Utley doubled home Barnes and Puig, each their second run scored in the game, and effectively put the game out of reach for Arizona with a final score of 6 to 3.
Failure to capitalize with runners in scoring position, and Patrick Corbin’s inability to pitch deep into this game put the bullpen in a difficult spot. After stealing the extra inning contest the previous night and walking the tightrope in the 10th and 11th innings of that game, Arizona could not find the same stretch of good fortune tonight. The Diamondbacks were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 9 men on base in this game.
Tony Gwynn: Nick Ahmed +8.2%, 1-for-4, HR, 2 runs scored, Paul Goldschmidt +13.2%
Tony Gwynn Jr.: Alex Avila -16%, Chris Owings -15.6%, Ketel Marte -15.4%
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CoTN to DesertWeagle. Seriously Ketel. Get your launch angle up, bro.