Record: 79-77. Pace: 82-80. Change on 2017: -11.
And, so it ends. The Diamondbacks, who were leading the division when the calendar turned to September, find themselves eliminated from post-season contention with a week left to go. It has been a spectacular implosion, which has now reached 17 defeats in the last 22 games. It’s actually their second such streak of the season, since the D-backs also went 5-17 in May. Given that, I guess it’s kinda impressive the team managed to stave off elimination until as late as game #156. If today was the final nail, it has seemed almost inevitable: this afternoon felt like more of a mercy killing. For the next week, it frees me up to be a Rockies fan.
Today was supposed to be Fan Appreciation Day at Chase, but you wouldn’t have noticed. The crowd was small and unenthusiastic: supposedly 29,191, but I think that was closer to a count of legs, rather than bodies present. Even when the team came out of the dugout in the middle of the game to salute the fans, it almost looked as if they had to be chased onto the warning track by Ken Kendrick, wielding a cattle-prod. These past few weeks have not been much fun as a fan, and we have the ability to turn off the game and go do something less painful. Clean gutters. Root-canal work. Explore the electric socket-fork interface. Players have to keep grinding. On a day like this, you have to feel for them.
In the preview, I noted how the team has posted its highest September ERA in Arizona history. However, this loss wasn’t really the pitchers’ fault, even if it looked early on like it might be. Zack Godley took almost thirty pitches to get through an eventful first inning, which started with a pair of hits, then had three strikeouts AND a lineout, because Jeff Mathis couldn’t block a Godley wild pitch. The Rockies ended up leaving the bases loaded there, then stranded another runner in scoring position in the second before taking the lead for good on a RBI double in the third. Two walks in the fifth led to their second run, due to the RBI single which followed.
That was it for Godley. He went five innings, allowing two runs on six hits and three walks with five strikeouts. I guess that’s not really too bad. but control continues to be a problem for him. Over his four September starts, Zack has walked thirteen batters in 17.2 innings. He now has 79 for the year, which is the most by any Arizona pitcher since 2009, when Doug Davis issued 103 free passes. It’s the kind of peripheral which might suggest a transition to the bullpen next year. Except that Arizona’s experienced options for the rotation in 2019 are kinda thin. I suspect Godley’s mechanics - specifically, their consistency - will be a major Mike Butcher project this winter.
On the plus side, the bullpen pitched very well. Archie Bradley, Jake Diekman, Yoan Lopez and Silvino Bracho combined to throw four shutout innings of one-hit ball, with a pair of walks and eight strikeouts. Given three of these pitchers will quite likely be a significant part of the Arizona bullpen, this offered a (small sample-size) shoot of hope for the future. All told, you can’t really complain too much about the pitching, when it holds the opposition to two runs and strikes out thirteen. Admittedly, it helped the Rockies were almost as good as the D-backs at spurning their chances to score, going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Key word: almost. The D-backs managed exactly ONE hit with a runner in scoring position this entire SERIES - David Peralta’s two-run homer, in the first inning of the opener on Friday night, which came with Jon Jay on second base. They went hitless the rest of the way there, didn’t even have an AB with RISP on Saturday, and then went 0-for-6 there this afternoon. Arizona had two on for one out in the fifth, after singles by Eduardo Escobar and David Peralta, but Nick Ahmed and A.J. Pollock couldn’t deliver. Ahmed did almost tie the game up in the sixth, but his fly-ball to left field ended up a few feet short, falling harmlessly into Gerardo Parra’s glove at the track.
The Diamondbacks also put two on with one out in the eighth inning, as Peralta reached base for the third time, on a walk, and Ahmed also took a base on balls. Pollock and Ketel Marte left the runners stranded, and that was the last hurrah for the D-backs, who went down in order in the ninth. Escobar, Peralta and Chris Owings each had two hits - the latter came on in right field to replace Steven Souza for the top of the fifth. Souza left with what the team called “a lower back spasm”. We might as well put him in bubble-wrap and store him away in the bowels of Chase Field until spring training, rather than risk any further damage. He seems a but fragile.
On the plus side, the win keeps our hopes alive that the Rockies can stop the Dodgers, and now also makes it VERY unlikely Los Angeles can clinch during the upcoming series here. They would need to sweep us, and Colorado would also need to lose their next three games. But I would like to think the D-backs can do a bit more against the Dodgers than the bare minimum of resistance we saw them offer the Rockies this series.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Jupiter: David Peralta, +11.8%
Uranus: A.J. Pollock, -18.1%
Pluto: Goldschmidt, -14.2%; Mathis, -14.0%; Escobar, -11.9%
Fan Appreciation Day apparently did not extend to the SnakePit, where comments were provided by a mere dozen people - two of whom had one comment. I trust everyone else enjoyed watching the Cardinals’ latest disaster. Anyway, present were: AzDbackfanInDc, DBacksEurope, DORRITO, DeadManG, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jackwriter, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, SongBird and onedotfive, for which we thank them. Probably didn’t help that a number of the usual suspects were at Chase, courtesy of ish95 Sr. Comment of the day goes to AzDbackfanInDc, for his shock announcement.
I’ve scheduled an auto-deletion of his account for midnight, and wish him all the best in his future endeavors...
Dodgers come to town tomorrow, opening with Robbie Ray taking on Clayton Kershaw. 6:40pm first pitch for that, as we have a real chance to play spoiler.