Record: 54-46. Pace: 87-75. Change on 2017: -3.
Remember when seven innings was Torey Lovullo’s benchmark for his starting pitchers? This was an oft-repeated mantra last season: “I wanted to make sure that instead of looking for somebody else to come in and pick up the slack for them that they were going to be conditioned for those moments and pitch into the sixth and seventh inning. I’m asking for our starters to go 21 outs.” You have not heard that nearly as much this season, and with good reason, because it hasn’t been happening. In 2017, it happened 33 times or 20.4% of the time. This season, Zack Greinke’s outing this afternoon was only the fourteenth such outing, in Game #100. I leave the math as an exercise. :)
It was also the longest of the season in terms of pure pitches, Greinke taking 111 to get through eight innings. As I noted recently, the 110-pitch outing has become an endangered species, this afternoon’s performance ending a streak of 132 consecutive regular-season games without one, daring back to August 25 last season when Zack also threw 111 pitches. But after the bullpen has had its issues over the past couple of days, hard to blame Lovullo for pushing Greinke, especially when he was so dominant. Today’s Game Score of 86 was the third-best of the year by a Diamondback, trailing only Patrick Corbin’s pair of one-hit starts, back in April against the Dodgers (87) and Giants (92).
HIGHLIGHTS: Zack Greinke had it all working this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/ZDqtQC9ffi— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) July 22, 2018
Today was a pitching clinic from a master, who struck out a season high 13 and allowed only three base-runners all afternoon on one walk (to Nolan Arenado, so we’re quite able to understand that!) and two hits. Greinke was able to throw just about any of his pitches for strikes, in any count. He had a first pitch strike to all but five of the twenty-seven batters he faced this afternoon. He probably should not have needed 111 pitches: the pitch below, a luscious 64 mph eephus managed not just to fool Gerardo Parra, but also home-plate umpire Ramon De Jesus. Greinke had to throw five further pitches before getting the same end result.
Only one Colorado batter advanced past first. That came with one out in the fifth and was the first hit that Zack allowed. Ian Desmond took a 2-2 pitch and lined it just over the fence in right, above the despairing grab of Steven Souza, who for a moment there, looked like he would run right through the fence. Greinke calmly regrouped after losing the no-hitter, striking out the next four batters faced on a total of 15 pitches. #DominanceRestablished. Even in the eighth, he was still touching 91 mph, and worth noting his fastball velocity has averaged over 90 mph the last couple of starts, after being as low as 88.6 in April. Of course, his 111th and final pitch was another sub-70 eephus, purely for troll purposes!
The D-backs offense continued their solid second-half performance and are now 3-for-3 in their delivery of tacos during the post-break contests. And this time, they had the flavor of victory to them. Arizona got on the board in the first, courtesy of two-out doubles off the bat of A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza. More two-out magic arrived in the fourth. Jake Lamb worked a walk, after falling 1-2 behind. Daniel Descalso took the first pitch and hit a seeing-eye single through the right side of the infield to put men on the corners. And then Nick Ahmed came up with the big blow, lining the ball down into the left-field corner, past a despairing dive from Gerardo Parra, for a two-run triple to make it 3-0 for Arizona.
After the Rockies got on the board in the fifth, the D-backs got that run back without a hit in the sixth. They loaded the bases on two walks sandwiching an error, then Ahmed walked on four straight balls to make it 4-1. Jeff Mathis then knocked the first strike he saw to left-center for a two-run single. Arizona could perhaps have had more, but for a Mathis and Greinke base-running gaffe. With men on first and second, Greinke put down the bunt, and both he and Mathis seemed to assume the only play was at first, so neither was running hard. Arenado had other ideas, went to second for the force on Mathis, and Zack was doubled up, making barely a token effort up the line.
However, given the contributions of both men to this victory in other areas, it would be churlish to condemn them TOO much. Just don’t let it happen again, especially in a situation where it might matter more. Ahmed had two hits as well as his walk, and drove in three runs, while Descalso scored twice, reaching base three times on a hit and a pair of walks. Andrew Chafin and Silvino Bracho combined for a scoreless ninth, ending with a great diving play by Ahmed (above). A possibly worrying point: Paul Goldschmidt seems to have been broken by the All-Star break. One of the hottest hitters in baseball at that point, in the three games of this series, Goldy went 1-for-12 with nine strikeouts.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Roanoke: Zack Greinke, +31.8%
Dyatlov Pass: Nick Ahmed, +23.3%
We never went to the moon: David Peralta, -4.7%
A light but broad GDT, with 313 comments across 22 different people: those present were AzDbackfanInDc, BobDolio, DBacksEurope, DeadManG, Fangdango, GuruB, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, Pat McCarthy, Renin, Rockkstarr12, coldblueAZ, gamepass, hotclaws, onedotfive, since_98, smartplays and suroeste. Nothing more than two recs though, so step up your wit and pith for the Cubs series, please.
That four-game set starts tomorrow in Wrigley Field, with Patrick Corbin starting for the D-backs. The team also announced after this game that Clay Buchholz will be our starter on Tuesday, so there will need to be a roster move made for that one. What are the odds that it will, once again, be Silvino Bracho who is Reno bound? Going by previous occasions, seems almost assured, but we can hope for the end of the Jorge De La Rosa experience, I guess...