Record: 57-48. Pace: 88-74. Change on 2017: -3.
You might be forgiven for being a little nervous after the D-backs scored six runs in the third inning tonight, in their first appearance of the year at Petco [yeah, schedule makers: zero games there in the first 104 games, then ten of the final 58]. Because that made the score 6-1 to Arizona... which was exactly the score after Nick Ahmed’s grand-slam yesterday in Chicago. And we all know how that ended... /sadface Fortunately, we were not treated to a Californian remake, though I must confess, part of me did perversely want the game to become a save situation, purely so we would see Brad Boxberger get an immediate chance for some redemption.
That, however, is starting at the wrong end of this one. We should probably start with Zack Greinke, who is in the middle of one of the best runs of pitching we’ve seen in Arizona, perhaps for a decade. He went seven innings tonight, allowing one run on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Here’s his line over the last seven starts:
Greinke: 46.2 IP, 24 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 48 SO, 1.16 ERA, 6-0 record
The last Diamondback to go seven consecutive starts allowing two runs or less was Josh Collmenter in Aug-Sep of 2014. The last such with a comparable ERA was Dan Haren, who had a 1.06 ERA over seven starts from Jun 18 to Jul 25, 2008,
Greinke’s ERA is now down below three, at 2.96, which is fifth in the NL among qualifying pitchers. With three of the four currently above him probably not making the playoffs (Jacob DeGrom of the Mets, Max Scherzer of the Nationals and Miles Mikolas of the Cardinals - the Phillies’ Aaron Nola is the exception), you do have to wonder whether Greinke might have a shot at some Cy Young love this season. Obviously, there is still a long way to go, and as we saw with the NL MVP race last year, the “you need to make the post-season” rule doesn’t always apply. But it’s hard to argue the Diamondbacks are not getting value for money.
Remember when people thought Greinke’s lower velocity was a sign of the apocalypse? Or was it just Bleacher Report?
Mr. Greinke, any comment?
In case you wondered... Why, yes: this is me padding the word-count desperately, because the awkward timing of this one meant I didn’t get to see much of this game between the third and the eighth innings. During those frames, I was on the way home from work, or at the supermarket. On the plus side... it didn’t look like I missed too much: precisely zero runs, in fact. Zack allowed his traditional solo home-run in the second, giving San Diego a charitable lead. Nine of Greinke’s last ten homers have been solo shots, and 14 of 18 this season. Another curious fact: only three of the eighteen have come with the D-backs in the lead. It does suggest he “pitches to the score” in some way.
In this case, it didn’t matter; the D-backs responded by torching Luis Perdomo for six in the next inning, tying a season high for a single frame. All the runs scored with one out, as seven consecutive Arizona hitters reached base, on five hits and a pair of walks (below). Steven Souza had the big hit, with a two-run ground-rule double, with RBI for Jon Jay, A.J. Pollock, Ketel Marte and Nick Ahmed. Jeff Mathis’s head-first slide into home-plate to score the first run was a thing of beauty. However, demerits will be applied for him ending the inning with a double-play. [I wonder if anyone has ever been responsible for all three outs in one frame? Presumably making the first out, batting around, then a double-play...]
That was effectively it, the way Greinke was pitching. I did have mild concern [in the frozen-food aisle, should you care] after a pair of hits to lead-off the bottom of the fifth suggested the Padres might have some life on them. But a groundball back to the mound was followed by a double-play ball - one of three turned by the Diamondbacks tonight. Greinke cruised through the seventh, on an economical 98 pitches. Particularly of note, he had a ground-ball/fly-ball out ratio of 12:3, which is fairly unusual: generally, Zack allows more fly-ball outs than on the ground. It was his eighth walkless start (of 22), and sixteenth allowing one or fewer base on balls.
Also of interest, Matt Andriese made his Diamondbacks debut, and immediately slotted into the long relief role, working the last two innings. He had a somewhat rude introduction to the National League, as the first batter he faced, Austin Hedges, went deep on the fifth pitch Andriese delivered as a Diamondback. However, he settled down, and seemed to flash some nice stuff, striking out three of the next six batters he faced, as he finished out the game. With the Dodgers beating the Braves, and the Rockies also winning, no ground was gained in the NL West. But the Atlanta loss does allow Arizona to leap-frog them, and we now occupy the second NL wild-card spot.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Trotsky: A.J. Pollock, +16.0%
Lenin: Jay, +12.8%; Souza, +10.5%
Stalin: Paul Goldschmidt, -4.3%
Those in the Gameday Thread tonight were: DeadManG, Fangdango, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, Rockkstarr12, Smurf1000, Ubersnake, asteroid, coldblueAZ, david.munter, edbigghead, hotclaws, kilnborn, onedotfive, since_98 and suroeste. Comment of the night to since_98, who may have found the secret to Greinke’s new-found success:
Arizona will look to build on this and take the series tomorrow, with Patrick Corbin on the mound for them. It’s a 5:40pm first pitch Arizona time, and at least we are now well-stocked with comestibles, so I should be good to go!