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Snake Bytes, 5/11: Never Mind the Balks

Well, that sucked.

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Washington Nationals  v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images


[AZ Central] Archie Bradley's balk spoils Zack Greinke's night - “Really, it’s all on me,” Bradley said. “I was just mistaking a sign for what I thought was a pick play (at third). I know we really don’t ever run it, but just kind of in the circumstance I thought I saw something, I acknowledged the sign back (to third baseman Daniel Descalso) and clearly I was wrong. It’s unfortunate to kind of spoil what Zack did, and ending up losing the game really kind if makes it hurt even more. But hey, we’ll come back tomorrow ready to go.” The balk wouldn’t have been issued had Descalso been close enough to the bag at third. He wasn’t because he wasn’t expecting a possible pickoff throw, Lovullo said.

[Arizona Sports] D-backs waste 'outstanding effort' from Zack Greinke, drop series opener - After Matt Wieters singled with one out in the second inning, Greinke retired the next 16 in a row, five via the strikeout. It wasn’t until Howie Kendrick doubled with two outs in the seventh inning that the Nationals had a batter reach base safely. By the way, Steven Souza Jr. nearly made a spectacular diving catch on the Kendrick hit. Greinke swiped second base after his run-scoring single in the fifth inning. It was his first stolen base of the season and sixth of his career; the first since June 23, 2016, at Colorado. Greinke joined Braden Shipley (Aug. 11, 2016 at Mets) and Joe Saunders (Sept. 4, 2010 at Astros) as the only D-backs pitchers in team history with at hit, RBI and stolen base in a single game.

[] D-backs drop heartbreaker to Nationals in 11 - “Offensively, he’s always talking about a plan,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said of Greinke. “He always wants to go over the pitches and the out-pitches [of the opposing pitcher] with the hitting coach, and he can counterpunch some things.” While the Arizona offense has not performed as expected for much of the season, Greinke has been on a roll at the plate. Over his last three starts, he is 4-for-6 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs. “Maybe just trying not to hit homers and just trying to hit the ball hard and not even that, just trying to hit the ball,” Greinke said of his approach recently. “And I’ve been doing good the past three or four games. I don’t know how long it will last for, but I’ve been hitting the ball pretty good.”

Team news

[AZ Central] Hirano riding splitter to big-league success - Hirano is pleased with how he’s adjusted to the different balls and mounds in the U.S, and while he said the balls here feel slicker, making it harder for him to consistently bury splitters, he thinks that is offset by the amount of movement he’s been able to generate. “Hitters will tell you how good it is,” Diamondbacks catcher John Ryan Murphy said. “That’s usually how you base your judgment off it. So far, it’s been getting a lot of swings and misses. He always seems to put it in that area right where it looks like a strike long enough to where they swing at it. That’s the key with a splitter. Make it look like a strike for as long as you can.”

[Fangraphs] The Diamondbacks Could Have a Patrick Corbin Problem - Corbin is worrisome for two reasons. One, he’s just good, and the Diamondbacks would like to keep having and using a good pitcher. But two, Arizona already has a real issue with rotation depth. Every single time a post like this gets written, it needs to be expressed that, ultimately, we don’t and can’t know. Corbin might be fine. Maybe he’s under the weather. Maybe it’s just a run-of-the-mill dead-arm phase. But the cause for alarm is very much legitimate. All of a sudden, Patrick Corbin can’t throw a single fastball at the speed he used to average. That’s not something any pitcher would choose.

[The Athletic] Red flags are popping up for Patrick Corbin - While the fastball velocity is a concern, it was Corbin’s slider command that hurt him the most. Through the first month of the season, Corbin generated a swing and miss on every third slider he threw. His last two starts, that’s been halved to 16 percent. “His slider is his best pitch, and I mean, it’s nasty,” said Dodgers infielder Kyle Farmer. “His first time we faced him, that was the first time we saw it, so it got us off balance a lot. But watching film on him, facing him multiple times, you learn how to spit on that kind of stuff and just look out and away over the plate and spit on the inner half.”

[AZ Central] Jimmie Sherfy waiting in the wings in Triple-A - [A] triceps issue prompted the club to bring him along slowly at the start of spring training. Later in camp, he developed shoulder tightness. The health issues played into the club's decision to have him start the year in Reno. Lovullo said he has always expected to see Sherfy back in the majors at some point this year. “What I’ve always said is the players make the decisions,” Lovullo said. “The conversations we have when we send a guy down is just to make sure you’re the guy when the time arises. We have our guys here right now and they’re lined up to pitch. If that transitions and we need to go down to Triple-A and get a guy, he’s going to put himself in that situation.”

[MLB] 5 unsung heros so far in the NL West - D-backs OF David Peralta. Why you should know about him: An on-base threat for most of his career, Peralta has added a power surge this year to make him one of the season’s most effective leadoff hitters. What they’re saying: “I just think David is going to impact the baseball game from the first pitch to the last pitch that he sees and you can’t make a mistake to him. I feel like he is going to set a tone for us. If you throw a ball down the middle of the plate, he’s going to put some barrel on it and I want us to be known as that type of team.” -- D-backs manager Torey Lovullo

And, elsewhere...

[NY Post] The All-Star Game voting change MLB wants — and union rejected - The simmering tension between the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association was recently expressed yet again when the union rejected what Major League Baseball believed would be a change in All-Star voting that would heighten attention for the Midsummer Classic, The Post has learned. MLB proposed essentially a primary system and a general election for the fan voting. There would be an initial wave of voting in the standard way with a player from each team represented at the position. Then, around mid-June, there would be a cutoff and the top three vote-getters at each position would be in a runoff (starting from zero votes again) with the winner starting at that position.

[Chicago Tribune] Rafael Palmeiro back on diamond at 53 with hopes of MLB comeback - "I'm doing it because I love the game first of all," Palmeiro said Thursday. "And because I want to get back to proving to myself that I can do this and maybe for some of those people that think that I cheated, they might think again and say well, wait a minute, he's 53 years old, he's playing at this level, he's playing in the big leagues, he's producing. Maybe some of those will say, OK, he did it legitimately." Palmeiro is going the independent league route after not getting a non-roster invite from an MLB team during spring training. Palmeiro and his 28-year-old son Patrick, a third baseman, were introduced by the second-year Cleburne Railroaders of the American Association, then played in the team's first spring training game.

[The Atlantic] MLB and the 'Juiced' Ball Debate - Just before the inflection point in 2015, offense was down so much that some writers began proposing rule changes to save the game. After the season’s second half saw a sudden spike in home-run rates, it wasn’t long before many observers arrived at an explanation: The balls were different, altered in ways invisible to the naked eye but enough to make more fly balls clear the fences. In other words, they argued, the balls were “juiced.” Since then, writers and researchers have used various methods—analyzing publicly available statistics, X-raying baseballs, and firing them out of cannons—in an attempt to confirm the juiced-ball hypothesis.

[] Cardinals buy ballistic cups from local fan after Molina’s injury - Jeremiah Raber trusts in his product “Armored Nutshellz” so much that he tested it out on himself. In a video he posted on his company website, he’s shown in a forested area, standing by a tree, wearing an athletic cup with a target on it; then you here a gunfire and sure enough, the cup stopped the bullet. He created bulletproof cups for high performing athletes, law enforcement, and military. Raber said the Cardinals reached out to him Sunday to buy three sets of Nutshellz after Yadier Molina was struck in the groin by a 102-mph fastball - that has him out for a month.