Record: 79-75. Pace: 83-79. Change on 2017: -10.
As mentioned in the preview, this series is one where I find my loyalties torn. Do I want the D-backs to stack up a couple more meaningless victories, which will mean nothing except a slightly worse draft pick come next June? Or do I want to improve the odds of the Dodgers not winning the division? And, in particular, not winning it at Chase Field next week? You can make the case both ways. But it was only the latter camp who will have come away happy from Chase Field tonight, as Arizona went through what has been their signature way of losing games in the second half. Score runs early; get a quality outing from your starter; stop scoring runs; have the bullpen cough it up late.
Technically, the bullpen didn’t lose this one. The L in the contest goes to Zack Greinke as the pitcher of record. But when you leave a tied game with one out in the eighth and a runner on first, it’s not unreasonable to expect the relievers who follow to be able to strand the runner. Or, certainly, NOT ALLOW THREE ADDITIONAL RUNNERS TO CROSS HOME PLATE. Because that’s what Jake Diekman, Brad Ziegler and (to a lesser extent) Jimmie Sherfy did. It took all three of them combined to get the two outs necessary, facing eight batters in order to do so, allowing three hits a pair of walks and a hit batter. Yeah, I don’t think Greinke is the one who deserves to take a loss here.
At least Jake Diekman didn’t waste time. Our lefty specialist, brought in to face a lefty, promptly hit him with a cement-mixer slider on the first pitch. Exit Diekman. Enter Ziegler, who got a ground ball back to the mound for the next out. It wasn’t quite hard enough for a double-play, despite Nick Ahmed getting rid of the ball so quickly he should apply to join the Magic Circle. Torey Lovullo appealed the play, thinking Charlie Blackmon’s slide - who was, very much, waving his hands in the air like he just didn’t care - was illegal. Ziegler thought so: “He intentionally throws his arms in the air and makes contact with Nick’s left shoulder. You can see Nick’s sleeve move as a result. I don’t know how you miss this.”
Unfortunately, the umpires in New York thought otherwise, and Colorado then went RBI single, RBI single, walk, two RBI single. They batted around in that eighth inning, and Arizona were left dead in the water. To use a phrase I seem to have trotted out regularly of late, “things had started off quite promisingly for the D-backs”. In this case, they had a two-run lead after the first inning. Greinke had a 1-2-3 first, then Jon Jay doubled to get us underway in the bottom half. One out later, David Peralta clobbered the first pitch he saw for a towering moon shot of a home-run to right field (above, estimated at a peak height of 122 feet. Fortunately, the roof was open!).
It was his 29th of the season, and it would be nice if he can add one more before the end of the season. Peralta’s emergence as a real left-handed power threat has been one of the very few bright spots on offense for the team this season, and with question-marks over the other two outfield spots next year (A.J. Pollock probably not being here, and Steven Souza having been thoroughly underwhelming), it’s nice to be able to have left-field taken care of, at least. But the rest of the way? Nothing. That was the last - indeed, only - hit the D-backs would get with the runners in scoring position tonight. I can’t help wonder whether Wednesday’s B-lineup would have done worse.
Greinke was excellent early, retiring the first 13 batters he faced before issuing a one-out walk to Carlos Gonzalez in the fifth inning. That came back to bite him, as a wild pitch advanced CarGo into scoring position, and he then came home on the Rockies’ first hit of the night, though the batter was thrown out trying to take second. Next time up, Greinke got the first two men out, but then allowed back-to-back doubles to let Colorado tie things up. Meanwhile, the D-backs were having fits trying to handle German Marquez’s curve, as he struck out 11 batters through seven innings. Their best chance was in the sixth, when they had two on with one out, but Paul Goldschmidt and Daniel Descalso came up empty.
As Chris was heading out from work tonight, she was delayed by a burning car on the I-10 downtown. I’ll just leave this here - in the light of subsequent events, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
The Dodgers just lost to the Padres in Los Angeles tonight (why I’ve been sitting on this!), which means the Rockies are back to 11⁄2 games behind them in the division. Of particular interest, it has a significantly negative impact on LA’s chances of being able to clinch in Phoenix, though much depends on results tomorrow and Sunday. With Los Angeles having three games left when they leave Arizona, and Colorado having four, the Dodgers would only clinch if they are four or more up after playing the D-backs. To do so, they would need to gain 2.5 games on the Rockies over the next five games. For example, if Colorado goes 2-3, Los Angeles needs to be 5-0, including a sweep of Arizona.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Bilbo Baggins: Zack Greinke, +20.8%
Frodo: David Peralta, +15.9%
Sauron: Brad Ziegler, -39.1%
Orcs: Escobar, -12.0%; Pollock, -10.0%
There was a Gameday Thread. There were people in it. Particularly, the following people: AZDovs11, AzDbackfanInDc, BobDolio, DORRITO, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Johnneu, LloydFree, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, Rockkstarr12, Smurf1000, SongBird, asteroid, coldblueAZ, david.munter, edbigghead, hotclaws, kilnborn, onedotfive, smartplays and suroeste. Nothing quite turned red, so I’m exercising executive authority and awarding it to Johnneu.
Tomorrow, it’s SnakeBruteSquadFest, so there will be a lot of us at the park. We’ll be beered and cornish pastied up, so if there’s not a better performance than we saw this evening, there will be... trouble. Just sayin’. We will be enjoying a Patrick Corbin start, so I’m somewhat optimistic. 5:10pm first pitch.