“A complete game is a complete game,” Buchholz said. “A shutout is a little different. It’s pretty hard to do.”
Clay had that to say the last time he pitched well enough to go a full 9 innings. That outing was much like this one, a shutout bid spoiled late. Shutouts are hard, but on a rung below that are complete games, and Buchholz came ready to pitch in this one. Jacob Nix, unfortunately, did not. He of course was coming off 6 innings of shutout ball in his major league debut. He’s a decent prospect, with Fangraphs giving him a 45 FV and innings-eater type of starter. Those have value. The D-backs offense didn’t care much for that.
Torey Lovullo did some switching around with his lineup today, demoting Goldschmidt all the way down to the 4 spot in the lineup, hoping to get some runners on base for him to knock him. David Peralta moved up to the 3rd spot and A.J. Pollock was up 2nd. It worked.
Jon Jay led off with a double into the left-field corner and A.J. worked an easy walk to put early runners on the bases. Peralta continued his 2nd half assault on the baseball, lining a 3-0 fastball to center field for his 6th home run since the break, giving the D-backs a 3-0 lead. The offense wasn’t done however, with the aforementioned Goldy singling to start the rally again and Eduardo Escobar mashing the ball 70 feet for a single. Ketel Marte flew out, moving Goldy to 3rd and Nick Ahmed walked, loading the bases. The guy who should’ve never played again, Alex Avila, drove in two more with a single down the 3rd base line, 5-0 D-backs. The D-backs had more chances in that inning, with a runner on 2nd and two outs, but Pollock grounded out to 3rd to mercifully end it.
Tonight, 2 runs were all Buchholz would need. After a leadoff double, he’d retire the next 14 batters before allowing a 2-out single to Christian VIllanueva. He got out of the “threat” with a weak grounder at Marte.
After the brilliance that was his first 5 innings, Buchholz looked human the rest of the way. And by human I mean a good baseball-throwing human. The Padres got a two-out single from Spangenberg in the 6th, were retired in order in the 7th, and finally broke through in the 8th.
After using only 5 pitches to get the first two batters, Clay looked like he had retired the side in order, with a beautiful low fastball down in the zone for strike 3, but home plate umpire Sean Barber thought otherwise, breathing new life to Hunter Renfoe, who capitalized with a home run to center. Bye bye shutout. 5-1 D-backs.
With Clay at a tad over 100 pitches, Torey gave him the green light and he took advantage, getting a quick lineout from Spangenberg for out #1 before allowing a double to Eric Hosmer. But, no damage was done and Clay struck out Franmil Reyes and got a weak flyball from Austin Hedges to end the game.
We won’t talk about the offense however, because outside of the first, they were bad. Okay fine, they walked a lot against the Padres bullpen but couldn’t do much with it. In total their bullpen worked 8 1/3rds innings, allowing only 2 hits (and the 6 walks) while striking out 14 D-backs. Yikes.
☆☆☆ - CLAY BUCHHOLZ (9IP, 5H, 6K, 1ER) +19.4% WPA
☆☆ - David Peralta (1 for 3, 1HR, 2BB, 3RBI) +18.3% WPA
☆ - Clay Buchholz (Batting [0 for 3, 3Ks] ) -3.3% WPA
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The D-backs start the 2nd game of this 4 game series tomorrow at 7:10pm. Be sure to support our 1st place boys!