Record: 40-31. Pace: 91-71. Change on 2017:
The Diamondbacks were one out away from victory, holding on to a two-run lead with two outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the ninth inning. With the Dodgers having lost, and the Rockies blowing their lead in the ninth against Texas, everything was lined up for Brad Boxberger to retire the feeble-hitting Jose Reyes and put the D-backs back to being 2.5 games up on the Dodgers in the NL West. A capacity crowd of 47,907 at Chase Field for Father’s Day could take their Hawaiian shirt giveaways and go home happy, and stuffed full of apple pie chimichanga, to enjoy the day with their families...
But let’s get to that in its proper place. I wondered in the preview if I should have gone to the game, but I’m glad I didn’t. For the day started with more than a slight degree of disgruntle, both inside and outside Chase Field, as the Diamondbacks seemed startled to discover the sellout. Which is weird, because presumably they know how many tickets are sold in advance, and can therefore plan employees and concessions appropriately. There’s absolutely NO excuse for, if social media reports are true, some concession stands not to be open for a sell-out. It certainly explains why the queues at the ones which were open were apparently out of control. Have a few selected Tweets about the situation:
@Dbacks I’ve been in line for 25 minutes outside the main entrance and is maybe halfway to the gate. There is no reason this should take this long. Unacceptable. When you arrive 35-40 minutes before the game, you shouldn’t be worried about getting to your seats In time.— Zach Wendt (@dubya05) June 17, 2018
@dbacks Is there a reason 1/2 the upper level concessions aren’t open? Ridiculous lines, gave up. Happy Fathers Day.— Ted Cook (@cookn) June 17, 2018
@dbacks absolutely horrible service at section 100 concession stand! It has taken four innings to get through the line! Started in line during national anthem and got done at 2:10 pmHORRIBLE. JUST HORRIBLE!— RayU (@RayUrquieta) June 17, 2018
Those not standing in line got to watch a pitching duel in the early stages of the game. Clay Buchholz did allow a lead-off double to the Mets, and that came around to score on a sacrifice fly, but it was the only run he would end up allowing over 5.2 innings of work. Not the most dominant of outings, with only three strikeouts and a a pair of walks: against a more competent offense, it could well have been problematic. But he held the Mets to four hits, and lowered his ERA to 2.94 [I suspect his FIP probably took a bit of a hit!]. I’m thinking that was probably good enough to secure his rotation spot when Shelby Miller returns: whether it’s good enough when Robbie Ray comes back, remains to be seen.
The D-backs really struggled against Zack Wheeler the first time through the order, and seeing him firing fastballs at 99 mph with decent location, it was hard to figure out how he was winless since April. He was perfect the first time through the Arizona order, but the team did appear to adjust their approach the second time through, after their first 10 batters were retired. And, of course, it started with Paul Goldschmidt, who had the quintessential Paul Goldschmidt at-bat, coming back from 0-2 down to draw a walk with one out in the fourth inning.
Jake Lamb singled the other way, and David Peralta then banged a double off the wall in right-center for a game-tying RBI. Though we were somewhat fortunate not to run into an out, as third-base coach threw up a late stop sign for Lamb, which Peralta didn’t apparently see, and the Freight Train had to slam on the brakes and make a swift return to the previous station. After a walk to Daniel Descalso - he had three of them today - Ketel Marte had a productive out, grounding to the second baseman, which allowed Lamb to cross home-plate. Alex Avila wasn’t able to do any more damage - this is my unsurprised face - but the Diamondbacks had a 2-1 lead.
The game was then turned over to the bullpens, and Arizona’s A-relievers got through the seventh and eighth inning, though not without some issues. Yoshihisa Hirano, who had only walked 9 in 30 innings of work, issued consecutive bases on balls with two outs in the seventh, but was still able to put up another zero. It was his nineteenth consecutive scoreless appearance; there have been only two longer in team history, with J.J. Putz (2012) and Brandon Lyon (2008), each going 24 in a row. [In terms of innings pitches, the 16.2 frames for Hirano is lower, tied for 11th-longest, with Lyon #1 at 25] Archie Bradley worked around a two-out single and it was over to Boxberger.
10 pitches later, the Mets were down to their final out, our closer having K’d both batters. Then, the wheels fell off. Jose Reyes dropped a bunt, which Alex Avila fielded, when it’s possible - but not certain - the ball might have rolled foul. This is why Alex Avila is still trending in Phoenix, almost two hours later, rather than Brad Boxberger, as Avila became the scapegoat for what followed. I’m not sure why, as it was Boxberger who allowed an RBI double and consecutive home-runs, the long balls both coming on change-ups. Fernando Salas ended up having to get the final out, and although Avila reached on an error to open the ninth, Arizona were left wondering if anyone got the number of the truck.
It was certainly a highly dispiriting end, especially given results elsewhere, and only getting a split of the four-game series at home against the Mets has to be considered a wasted opportunity. The D-backs were held to seven hits, with two of those plus a walk for Goldschmidt, two hits for Lamb and, as mentioned, three walks for Descalso. Boxberger’s ERA went up from a good 2.49 to a mediocre 3.91 in the space of 11 pitches. #Regression That is, however, still a run better than Fernando Rodney’s was on the same day last year - both men had the same number of blown saves (3).
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Father Christmas: Clay Buchholz, +17.3%
Name of the Father: Bradley, +12.9%; Peralta, +12.1%; Hirano, +10.1%
Father of Lies: Brad Boxberger, -81.9%
Darth Vader: Jarrod Dyson, -16.7%
It was a happy Gameday Thread, up until it wasn’t. Present were: AzCutter, BigSmarty, DORRITO, DeadManG, EphBoston, Gilbertsportsfan, GuruB, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, PrettyBoyFloyd13, Rockkstarr12, ShirtOffYourBack, gamepass, hotclaws, kilnborn, lildbackfan21x, onedotfive and shoewizard. Nothing more than two recs though, so we’ll move rapidly on, which is probably the best thing to do with regard to this game as a whole. It’s off to Anaheim for the team now, and the first of a two-game set against the Angels tomorrow night. Zack Greinke starts for the D-backs.