Record: 25-17. Pace: 96-66. Change on 2017: +1.
If it feels like Arizona has been involved in a lot of close games this season... they have. This was the sixteenth decided (in either direction) by one run, and the twenty-fifth decided by two or fewer. Both figures are the most in the National League. This was, it seems, by design: the focus of Mike Hazen, Torey Lovullo and the rest of the front-office crew has been on pitching and defense, designed to minimize run scoring. And then, of course, there’s the much-discussed humidor. But, dammit: it makes for tough fan viewing. We’re on pace for sixty-two one-run games by the end of the regular season. That would shatter by seven the all-time franchise mark (2013 + 2013). BRB, getting my digestive track lined with Kevlar.
Winning this one was important, on a number of levels. It ended the longest losing streak in a long while, which had reached six after Arizona dropped the opener last night. It made a statement, after the loss for four to eight weeks of the team’s MVP, A.J. Pollock, with a broken thumb. And our nearest rivals, the Rockies, had already lost [almost giving the Padres their first franchise no-hitter], as had the Dodgers, making this a chance for the D-backs to regain some of the ground lost during the streak. As is, over the last ten games, miserably as the D-backs have played, they’ve lost precisely one game in the standings to the Rockies, no games to the Giants, and have gained two on the Dodgers.
It wasn’t pretty. The D-backs continued to struggle on offense at home: the last time free tacos were delivered as a result of a game at Chase was back in April. The 12-game tacoless streak is the longest such since 2014, and we’re only two off the all-time mark of 14, set in 2012. Over those dozen games, the D-backs have mustered a total of only 25 runs, and have been held to two or fewer on eight occasions. Tonight, Arizona managed only three hits, none for extra-bases. This is not a recipe for success: it’s only the third such victory in franchise history. Though remarkably, it’s their second win this year, having also beaten San Francisco that way on April 17, prevailing 1-0, thanks to Patrick Corbin’s one-hitter.
Zack Greinke was not as dominant tonight, though he certainly didn’t suck. He went six innings, allowing one run on four hits and a walk, with five strikeouts. The run he gave up came in the fourth, on a pair of hard-hit doubles by the Brewers, both of which just eluded the grasps of our outfielders. The first was almost an amazing grab by Chris Owings, making his season debut in center field, but the ball just clipped the top of his glove. Mind you the diving attempt required certainly had my heart in my mouth after what happened to Pollock last night. Owings did look a little shaky early, having to leap up for a shortstop-like catch after misjudging a knuckling liner, but settled in, making the nice sliding grab shown below.
C.O. looking awfully comfortable out in center field. pic.twitter.com/IpYZLhCidT— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) May 16, 2018
Outside that fourth Greinke was largely untroubled, a single to Chacin being the only base-runner he allowed until two outs in the sixth. There was finally some traffic, as the Brewers got a double followed by a walk, but got a favorable foul tip call on what otherwise would have been ball four to load the bases, and was able to finish off his night by striking out Domingo Santana. He threw 104 pitches; this was the third consecutive start where Zack has allowed a single run, giving him an ERA in May of 1.45. He has received a trio of no-decisions, in part because the Diamondbacks offense has given their pitchers a total of seven runs of support in those three contests.
Tonight, the struggle was real. David Peralta singled to lead off the game, and Paul Goldschmidt singled in the fourth. That was the only two hits we managed of Chacin, though Nick Ahmed probably should have been awarded a hit for his bunt in the fifth, on which the Brewers’ starter was charged with an error. Would have taken a heck of a play to get Ahmed, I’d have said. Goldschmidt’s single helped set up the D-backs’ first run, putting runners on the corners. Steven Souza did manage to get the run in from third with no outs - good boy! - but won’t be getting an RBI, because it came at the cost of a double-play.
Greinke was outlasted by Chacin, who went seven innings. By that point, the Arizona bullpen had taken over, with Yoshihisa Hirano and Archie Bradley facing the minimum in the seventh and eighth: the former with the help of a double-play, the latter getting a pair of strikeouts. And as is often the case, it was “anyone but ______”. For the first batter the Brewers’ bullpen faced was Jeff Mathis, who immediately walked to lead off the eighth. He was run for by Jarrod Dyson, and John Ryan Murphy finally got a bunt down on his third attempt. A Peralta groundout advanced the runner, Owings was walked, and then Daniel Descalso... Daniel Descalso’d. You expected, perhaps, anything except a clutch, two-out RBI hit?
Mr. Clutch comes through again. @Dbacks take the lead in the 8th. pic.twitter.com/HEjN8QIEzv— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) May 16, 2018
Brad Boxberger came in for the ninth, and there was some trauma after John Ryan Murphy failed to corral a high pop-up on the infield. He had plenty of time to corral it, but it clanked off his glove for an error. There was some discussion as to whether one of the infielders should have called for it, but I’m just amused to contemplate what Twitter would have looked like had, oh, Alex Avila committed this faux pas. Fortunately, Boxberger was able to work around it and notched his twelfth save. Though I don’t think home-plate umpire Alan Porter will be getting any Christmas cards with a Milwaukee postmark this year, as the hitters has issues with both the first and last outs in the inning.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Deadpool: Zack Greinke
Blade: Descalso, +22.7%; Boxberger, +17.8%; Bradley, +11.5%
Howard the Duck: Steven Souza, -16.4%
Thanks to those who kept the faith and still hung out in the Gameday Thread, being rewarded with a win. I’m happy I swapped recapping this one for Saturday’s defeat! Present were: BigSmarty, BobDolio, DORRITO, DeadManG, DesertWeagle, Diamondhacks, GuruB, JTyson, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, Johnneu, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, Nathan’s T, SedonaRed24, ShirtOffYourBack, Sprankton, The so-called Beautiful, Xerostomia, asteroid, coldblueAZ, megnetic, onedotfive, smartplays and suroeste. Comment of the night to ShirtOffYourBack for the only one to turn Sedona Red:
We’ll go for the series win tomorrow, in the rubber game, which is an afternoon contest, despite the off-day on Thursday for Arizona. First pitch is 12:40pm or so, with Matt Koch taking the mound for Arizona.