Record: 28-27. Pace: 82-80. Change on 2017: -5.
May has not been the best of months for the Diamondbacks. They clinched a losing record for the month as early as the 21st, limped into this final series against the Reds with a 5-18 mark, and were basically guaranteed to smash the franchise record for fewest runs in May. However, the first two games of the final set had provided some much-needed cause for optimism. While the strength of the opposition (or lack thereof) should be taken into consideration, the Diamondbacks won their first series since May 16. But they were unable to complete a sweep this afternoon at Chase Field, as two home-runs allowed by Patrick Corbin undid a 4-0 Arizona lead.
The first inning went about as well as could be expected. Corbin retired the Reds in order on 13 pitches, and the D-backs offense then took a quick two-run lead, needing just six pitches and before a batter was retired. Jarrod Dyson led off with a single, and Paul Goldschmidt then clubbed his first home-run of the year at Chase, on his 115th trip to the plate (below). Here are the D-backs to hit home-runs in Phoenix before him: A.J. Pollock (6), Nick Ahmed (4), David Peralta (3), Daniel Descalso (2), John Ryan Murphy (2), Chris Owings (2), Christian Walker (1) and Ketel Marte (1).
[Brief pause to toot my own trumpet. Last Thursday, I noted Goldschmidt had been second in the majors for hard-hit rate over the previous two weeks, and wrote “if Goldy keeps clobbering them the way he has been, eventually they will start to find grass. That could, almost single-handedly, get the offense back on track.” Since then, he has gone 6-for-21, with three extra-base hits and an OPS of .919. While it’s too early to state definitively that Goldschmidt is back, the current signs are very, very promising.]
Through three innings, things continued to go swimmingly well. David Peralta tacked on another run later in the first inning, scoring clean-up hitter John Ryan Murphy. I’ll take “Phrases I didn’t expect to be writing in May” for $800, please, Alex. But Murphy seized the opportunity he had been given and took full advantage of it. After his first-inning double, he added a long home-run to right field in the third (below), putting the D-backs 4-0 up. Worth noting that both these hits came off a right-handed pitcher, an area where he had struggled, both historically and this season. He’s earning more playing time - and is getting it. This was his ninth start in May, after making just five in April. There’s more to come.
But then, the lead was gone, as the Reds scored four without Corbin being able to retire a batter in the fourth. Two singles and a walk (which included a blown strike three call) were followed by an at-bat in which Murphy dropped what was called a very questionable foul tip, and Adam Duvall deposited a hanging slider to left-center for a game-tying grand-slam. Though a crude tool, it is worth noting that the Diamondbacks pitching staff generally has a better ERA with Alex Avila catching (3.25) than with John Ryan Murphy behind the plate (3.97). And while the sample-size grows perilously thin, looking at today’s starter, Corbin has five starts throwing to Avila, with a 2.56 ERA, and now has three to Murphy, with a 5.71 ERA.
Further damage was to follow in the sixth, with the Reds adding another long-ball, a two-run no-doubt shot off Corbin which gave the visitors a 6-4 lead. He exited after six innings, having been charged with all six runs, scattering eight hits and a walk with ten strikeouts. That fourth inning proved rather costly, and was not necessarily his fault, but it was good to see Corbin once again have another high K:BB outing. He even picked up a lot swinging strikes, an area I mentioned in the preview as having been a struggle this month. This afternoon, he had 16, the most by Patrick in a start since April 22nd.
The Diamondbacks offense, meanwhile, had largely given up. After Peralta’s RBI single with one out in the first, they did not have another at-bat with anyone in scoring position, until two outs in the eighth inning. Murphy had singled for his third hit of the day, and Chris Owings legged out an infield hit, but Nick Ahmed went down swinging. Fernando Salas and Andrew Chafin had put up zeroes in the seventh and eighth innings, but T.J. McFarland gave the Reds an insurance run in the top of the ninth. It could have been worse, as he only escaped the inning with the bases loaded.
Hope fluttered briefly in the ninth, as Daniel Descalso and Jarrod Dyson singled to lead things off, giving the Diamondbacks three whacks at it with the tying run at the plate. It didn’t end well. Goldschmidt fouled out to the catcher, Jake Lamb completed an 0-for-5 day that deserved a better fate, being retired on a nice play in the outfield, which brought up the hero for one last hoorah. However, Murphy was right out of heroics and popped out to the infield. He ended a triple shy of the cycle, while Dyson also had three hits, and Owings went 2-for-2 after coming on as a pinch-hitter for Socrates Brito.
☆☆☆ - John Ryan Murphy: 3-for-5, two R, DBL, HR, RBI
☆☆ - Paul Goldschmidt: 1-for-4, R, HR, two RBI, BB
☆ - Jarrod Dyson: 3-for-5, R
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Karl Marx: John Ryan Murphy, +10.5%
Pol Pot: Patrick Corbin, -30.4%
Joseph Stalin: Lamb, -16.2%; Ahmed, -16.0%; Marte, -11.0%
Thanks to those who chose to spend the afternoon here. Truly a game of two (not necessarily equal) halves. Present were: AzDbackfanInDc, BobDolio, DBacksEurope, DORRITO, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, Renin, Sean Testerman, Turambar, asteroid, david.munter, gamepass, hotclaws, lildbackfan21x, onedotfive, piratedan7, preston.salisbury, smartplays and suroeste. Comment of the thread to AzDbackfanInDc:
Likely no coincidence, it is entirely unrelated to the game...
Day off for the D-backs tomorrow, before the Marlins come to town for a three-game set that starts on Friday. It’s another series the Diamondbacks certainly should win, and it will at least be a new month. We’ll all be glad to put May behind us, that’s for sure.