Clayton Kershaw and Patrick Corbin squared off tonight in what would become a pitchers duel of a sort.
Kershaw navigated the first comfortably , with the only baserunner being Paul Goldschmidt getting on via a catchers interference. Corbin had to work a little harder, needing 20 pitches in the first, but allowed just a one out walk to Justin Turner in the inning. However in what would be a bit of a theme for Corbin’s outing, Brian Dozier and Manny Machado had long at bats, fouling off a number of 2 strikes pitches before being retired.
In the top of the 2nd Eduardo Escobar came to the plate, facing Kershaw for the first time in his career, and did this on the very first pitch he saw from the future Hall of Famer:
That was Escobar’s 20th HR of the season, his 5th as a Diamondback, and just his 5th off a left handed pitcher.
That would be the DBacks last hit for a while. In fact Kershaw retired 12 straight batters from the 2nd through 5th inning. The version we saw of Kershaw tonight is a very different pitcher than the one of a few years ago. His fastball was sitting at 90-91, but he was spotting it wherever he wanted it. His slider was sharp, and he mixed in his big slow curve effectively as well. Pouring in strike after strike and inducing weak contact, he needed just 59 pitches, 44 for strikes through 5.
Corbin meanwhile had to work quite a bit harder, needing 20 pitches in the 2nd , 21 pitches in the 3rd, and 20 more in the 4th. After stranding solitary runners in the 2nd and 3rd each, the 4th was the first truly stressful inning for Patrick. After hitting David Freese on the foot with a slider, Yasiel Puig hit a sharp ground ball down to 3rd that got under Escobar’s glove and trickled into LF, putting runners on 2nd and 3rd on the E5. But Austin Barnes hit a tapper back to Corbin, who threw home to Mathis to head off Puig who was running on contact. After a non throwing rundown Puig was out. Kershaw came to the plate and hit a groundball to 3rd that Escobar bobbled but managed to nab the slow running pitcher to end the threat.
Corbin would finally throw an efficient inning, retiring the side in order on just 15 pitches, bringing his total to 96 through 5. His final line of 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7K’s was excellent, albeit a little short. As Torey Lovullo summed up perfectly post game,
“He did everything he was supposed to do today. He kept a very patient team in check and made pitches when he had to.”
With Corbin due to lead off the 6th, Lovullo decided to send up Christian Walker to face Kershaw , and this happened:
A two out single by Goldy and Peralta reaching on an error by Dozier gave the DBacks runners on 1st and 2nd , but Escobar fouled a pitch hard off his toe, and while he stayed in the game, was hobbled and sore, and unable to put a good swing on a slider on the inner half, hitting a swinging bunt to tap out meekly and end that threat and opportunity to put up a crooked number vs. Kershaw.
Kershaw threw a scoreless 7th, allowing just an infield single to Marte, and finished with 4 hits, the 2 runs on solo homers and just 3 strikeouts. Not quite the same look as we’ve seen from him in years past, but equally effective. Tonight is one time where using the phrase “Sometimes you gotta tip your cap” might be justified. After all, it was Kershaw, and despite the solo shots, he was on his game.
Yoshihisa Hirano came on to pitch the 6th and struck out the side in dominant fashion. Thats as good as he’s looked in a month. Brad Ziegler and TJ McFarland combined for a scoreless 7th, while Kenta Maeda worked a perfect 8th.
Heading to the bottom of the 8th, the Dbacks had to feel pretty good. They had a 2-0 lead, and they had the the guy they wanted facing the top of the order in Archie Bradley. The inning would start off promising as Archie stuck out Max Muncy swinging on a sharp curveball that bounced in the dirt and Mathis threw down to first for the putout. However Justin Turner would reach base on a seeing eye 2 hopper just beyond the reach of Ketel Marte. Manny Machado followed with an epic 10 pitch at bat, fouling off fastball after fastball. Archie was mixing in the curve, but they weren’t close enough to induce Machado to swing. That brought Matt Kemp to the plate with runners on 1st and 2nd. After getting ahead 0-2 and then bouncing a curve in the dirt however Archie hung a curve right over the heart of the plate and Kemp crushed it to dead center field for the go ahead 3 run homer.
Andrew Chafin came on to relieve, getting out of the inning after giving up a hit to Joc Pederson.
Kenley Jansen trotted in to close, and after two quick outs, Nick Ahmed hit a double into the gap in left center, hustling to beat the throw. However Ketel Marte popped out to 2nd to end the game.
After the game Torey professed faith in Archie going forward, insisting they will continue to stick with their guy in these types of situations. It’s hard to justify not giving him a break from such high leverage innings at the moment however. Ever since yours truly called for him to be the closer, he has given up runs in 6 of his last 18 outings and also inherited runners in one or two more. Here is his somewhat unfair selective begin and end point, as the 2nd part kicks off with his 6 run game July 15th:
Bradley B4 and After July 14th
|Thru July 14||47||45.67||31||11||10||11||42||5||1.97|
|July 15 on||18||17.33||17||15||15||8||23||3||7.79|
In addition to this, I would be remiss in not pointing out that the offense appears to be in free fall now. In their last 9 games they have scored just 21 runs, while batting an even .200 and striking out 73 times. They are 3-6 in those games. We have seen these types of stretches before, and we know they can last a long time.
The loss drops the DBacks into a tie for first with the Dodgers, and just half a game ahead of the Rockies who also won tonight. The team will have a chance to salvage a series split tomorrow as Clay Buchholz will face off against Walker Buehler, Game Start at 1:10 P.M. Arizona time.
Fangraphs Game Chart Below as ugly as the ending itself
ACE: Patrick Corbin +.296 WPA
Goat: Archie Bradley, -.707
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There WILL be a COTD to this game, thanks to asteroid in response to BobDolio. (Sorry I don’t do the cut and paste properly, but it was Red in the game thread.
My mom is absolutely livid haha
Mine is too
And she has been dead for four years.