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Snake Bytes, 4/26: Pirates sunk

An 8-2 road-trip ended in emphatic fashion with a four-game sweep in Pittsburgh

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Massacre In Mexico Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Game recaps

[] Greinke's day at the plate vs. Pirates historic - Zack Greinke couldn’t help but give a little smirk as he tossed his hair back, standing up at third base after his first career triple on Thursday. And what’s not to smile about? It’s the first time since 1930 that a pitcher has hit at least five extra-base hits through the team's first 26 games (Wes Farrell). The only pitcher with more than five since 1908? Just the greatest dual threat in baseball history: Babe Ruth (8, in 1918). Greinke’s triple also gave him a cycle in the first month of the season, the only time in history that’s been accomplished by a pitcher. It’s the first time a pitcher has hit for the cycle in a full month since Dontrelle Willis did so in August 2011.

[AZ Central] Greinke, Diamondbacks sweep Pirates to finish 8-2 road trip - Their 5-0 victory on Thursday means they come back to Arizona one-half game behind the first-place Dodgers in the NL West. Immediate tests await at Chase Field, starting with a Chicago Cubs team that beat the Diamondbacks two out three last weekend, followed by the battered-but-not-unbowed New York Yankees. And don’t think manager Torey Lovullo doesn’t know this. “We’ll enjoy it for about 30 seconds, you know?” he said. “Turn the page as quickly as possible, and like I always say there’s something that transitions during the course of that plane trip for me (and) for this group of guys where they know it’s onward. We’ve got to turn the page quickly and get after a good Chicago team this weekend.

[DK Pittsburgh] Diamondbacks deflate pretty much everything - In this one, it was top gun vs. top gun, as Jameson Taillon matched up with Zack Greinke. Only it was never really a fair fight. Taillon put the Pirates in an early hole by giving up two runs in the first, and the game was a wrap from there. Greinke did roll — to the tune of seven innings pitched, two hits, one walk and seven strikeouts. "It was old-school Atlanta Braves pitching today," Hurdle said. "I mean, he was running them over the black stripe. Fastball was painted. The changeup had bottom, and the cutter occasionally just to let left-handers know he was going in. [He] changed speeds very well."

[AP] Greinke leads Diamondbacks past Pirates for 4-game sweep - The shutout was the second of the season for the D-backs, who improved to 15-11 and moved into a tie for first place in the NL West. It was Arizona’s second consecutive four-game sweep in Pittsburgh and 10th straight win overall at PNC Park. Greinke (4-1) was deceptive, not overpowering. Despite a fastball that averaged around 90 mph, he got 17 of them to go for called strikes. Greinke struck out seven in seven innings and gave up just two hits.

Team news

[AZ Central] Diamondbacks players bonding on long road trip - Along with the on-field success, there is an unseen but powerful secondary factor from being away from home. “I think these long road trips actually help you bond as a team,” reliever Matt Andriese said. “You’re more meshed. You’re at the park longer, away from family, so you have guys to hang out with more consistently. “We’re playing well, and if you were to look at our record on this road trip all the quality wins that we’ve had, going home, I’d say it’s a pretty solid road trip.”

[] Lovullo on Holland: 'He hasn’t let us down' - What’s been working? Holland admits it’s hard to say, but judging by the numbers, it seems to be tied to his slider. After allowing hard contact at a 28 percent clip on the offering last season, he has yet to allow a hard knock off it, per Statcast, and 11 of his 13 strikeouts this year have come on the pitch. “I’ve just known him from the time he was in Kansas City, from the opposing dugout, as somebody who can change shapes of that pitch,” Lovullo said. “He can land it, he can spike it, he’s just very gifted with that feel.” Yes, Holland’s velocity has dipped over time, especially on his fastball. But for Lovullo’s part, he “couldn’t care less about the 96 [mph pitches].” “The velo and location that he’s throwing for us today has been exceptional,” Lovullo said. “It’s the shape of his secondary stuff. It’s the location of his fastball. That’s helped that out.”

[The Athletic] The Diamondbacks’ Ketel Marte experiment seems to be working out - There was little doubt that Marte possesses the physical tools needed to play center – and no doubt at all about his ability to handle second and short – but it’s still remarkable how smoothly his transition to the outfield has gone. Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric ranks him as a neutral outfielder, but FanGraphs’ Defensive Runs Above Average statistic pegs him as the second most valuable defender on the team behind Ahmed, almost all of that value created from his fewer than 100 innings in center. By the same metric, he’s been the 10th-best center fielder in baseball.

And, elsewhere

[SI] What to Expect From Vladimir Guerrero Jr. as His MLB Career Begins - The wait is over: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is finally here. The Blue Jays' phenom will make his highly anticipated debut Friday in Toronto against the A's. The arrival of one of the most hyped prospects of the last decade is a cause for celebration. But if you’ve been living under a rock for the last year or so and know next to nothing about Vlad Jr., then don’t fear. Here’s an in-depth guide to all the important facts about him.

[MLB] The 5 slowest HR trots on record - Hitting homers isn't easy, which is why it's probably no coincidence that pitchers seemingly have the slowest home-run trots -- they don't necessarily know when, or if, they'll get their next chance. And with Statcast, we can tangibly quantify just how long those trots take. Below are the five longest, or slowest, since the tracking technology came online in 2015. For context, only undisputed homers are included, which rules out any that may have been lengthened by replay review or other outlying reasons.

[SBNation] Kyler Murray’s timeline from baseball to No. 1 NFL Draft pick - - If you were making a way-too-early 2019 mock draft days after the 2018 event wrapped, it wouldn’t have Kyler Murray’s name on it. Not even if you went through all 256 theoretical picks, let alone No. 1 overall to the Arizona Cardinals. So how did we get here? Murray’s transition from MLB first-round pick to No. 1 NFL Draft pick came in fewer than 11 months, but you’ve got to dig a little deeper to get the whole story.

Finally, as home-run celebrations go... this one certainly goes