Record: 11-10. Pace: 85-77. Change on 2018: -4.
I was quite surprised to discover that Zack Greinke had never won at Wrigley Field, but that was indeed the case: over five previous starts, he had gone 0-2, with an ugly 8.31 ERA. Key word in that sentence is “was,” however. You couldn’t have told, based on his performance this afternoon, as he and major-league debutant Taylor Clarke combined on a four-hit shutout of the Cubs. It may have been another windy day in the Windy City, but you could not have told based on the D-backs’ overall performance. It was like night and day, compared to the wretched display offered up yesterday, beginning immediately, in the top of the first inning.
Jarrod Dyson got things under way with a lead-off single, but was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double. D-backs’ fans were still muttering about that, when Eduardo Escobar delivered his second home-run of the year, three pitches later. And barely did we have time to say “The score should be 2-0...” before it actually WAS 2-0. For David Peralta followed suit, hitting his third home-run. Not a bad way to start. Cubs’ starter Yu Darvish was wobbling, and though he escaped the inning without further damage, opened up the second inning with back-to-back walks to Nick Ahmed and John Ryan Murphy. Productive outs from Zack Greinke and Dyson got Ahmed round and in: 3-0.
Meanwhile, Greinke was doing work on the mound, though without much in the way of swinging strikes or particular dominance. He did a good job in the fourth inning, stranding a lead-off double, getting Jason Heyward to stare at strike three with runners on the corners, representing the tying run. But that was the only time the Cubs had any runners in scoring position against Greinke. He went six shutout innings on exactly 100 pitches, holding Chicago to three hits and two walks, with four strikeouts. The win improved Greinke’s record to 3-1, and lowered his season ERA to 4.60.
By the time he left the game, the D-backs were in full control, thanks to a three-run top of the sixth inning. Christian Walker and Ketel Marte led off with singles, but the latter was another TOOTBLAN, getting himself caught in a rundown trying to advance. Still, Walker reached third, and that proved (temporarily) crucial, as Ahmed hit a slow grounder to third-base. The Cubs came home, but the throw clanked off the catcher’s glove, with he and Walker getting all tangled up at home-plate. Our 1B eventually touched the plate, and he clearly had no permanent damage: Walker finished the day recording his first four-hit game in the majors, raising his average to .353 and OPS to 1.127. #Goldwho?
If you though John Ryan Murphy’s roster spot was under threat after the trade for Blake Swihart, Murphy’s response today suggested it will have to be pried from his cold, dead fingers. After the error made the score 4-0, he hit his third home-run of the season, and Arizona’s third of the afternoon, a two-run shot to deliver tacos, making the score 6-0. He also walked twice today and, for what it’s worth, now has the highest OPS of any of our active catchers, at 1.010. It was a good day for all of the Diamondbacks’ hitters: Adam Jones was the only player not to record a hit today. And that includes both of our pitchers. For Greinke doubled in addition to his sacrifice, getting his average up to a mere .500.
Taylor Clarke also got in on the fun, legging out an infield hit in his first major-league at-bat. He is the eighth Arizona pitcher to get a hit in his MLB debut: the last was Archie Bradley on April 11, 2015. However, Clarke is the first to do it as a reliever, which is considerably rarer. Though even that was accomplished earlier this season, by Ryan Helsley of the Cardinals. What Clarke did, was become the first player to get a hit and a save in their first game, since saves became an official MLB statistic in the late sixties. Because, setting aside his hitting, Clarke delivered three impressive scoreless innings, on one hit with a pair of strikeouts, to complete Arizona’s first shutout of the season.
That effort allowed him to join Jon Duplantier as the second Arizona pitcher this season with a three-inning save in their first game. Considering how rarely debut saves happen at all - this was only the fifth such of any length, across all of the majors since the end of the 2006 season - that’s quite a feat.
Wind powered: Zack Greinke, +25.5%
Full sail: John Ryan Murphy, +10.0%
Becalmed: Jarrod Dyson, -3.8%
Those present in the Gameday Thread were: AZPerson, AzDbackfanInDc, DBacksEurope, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Keegan Thompson, Michael McDermott, MidnghtDrgn, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, Rockkstarr12, VeeLoh, edbigghead, kilnborn, piratedan7 and suroeste, so thanks to them. Nothing got more than two likes, so we’ll chalk that down to everyone stuffing their face with chocolate or something. We’re back at Wrigley Field for the rubber game in this one tomorrow - another 11:20 am first pitch, Arizona time - with Robbie Ray starting for the D-backs.