Record 25-20. Pace: 90-72. Change on 2018: 0.
I had a whole Game of Thrones themed recap planned out. There’d be nine quotes, one for each inning. It was going to be epic. Then Mrs. SnakePit’s mother slipped in her bathroom, and broke her ankle. So, I actually got to spend the evening in the emergency room. She’ll be okay, but this will not be quite the recap originally scheduled. And on a side-note: old people on morphine (as well as being the name of my post-punk band), are highly amusing. You’ve seen all those videos of people post-dentist, coming out of anesthesia? Think that, just with more wrinkles.
Anyway, Arizona continued their good run with an emphatic win over woeful San Francisco on Game of Thrones night at Chase Field. The last time I saw any Giants going down quite so hard, they had just been stabbed in the eye by a pre-teen warrior princess. But what the victory did was mean the D-backs have now evened their record in comparison to last year: they were also 25-20 at this point. And odds are good Arizona will soon be in positive territory, since 45 games in. the 2018 version of the team found themselves three games into what would eventually end up as a seven-game losing streak.
The team also managed to do something no-one else had ever done against Jeff Samardzija as a starter: not strike out. This was his 214th start, dating back to 2009 [though I hadn’t realized he was originally a reliever, making only five starts over his first four seasons in the majors], and the first ever with zero K’s. You won’t be surprised to hear that the current active leader is Clayton Kershaw, who is 322-for-322 in starts with a K. Gio Gonzalez (311), David Price (295) and Chris Sale (216) are also perfect. Though the current record streak belongs to Cole Hamels. who has an ongoing run of 340 consecutive starts with one or more strikeouts, dating all the way back to May 2008.
In the early going, this led to a lot of quick innings for him, and in the early going, he seemed more likely to prevail over Merrill Kelly. Through three innings and 10 plate-appearances, the D-backs had seen only 28 pitches, with an Adam Jones single their sole hit. The most interesting thing was the truly bizarre shift the Giants used against Alex Avila (above), with four outfielders and three infielders on the right-hand side. Of course, Avila still got on base, walking. Meanwhile, Kelly had allowed four hits, and needed to pitch around a tricky situation in the third, when San Francisco had men on the corners with one out, and St. Buster of the Flowers at the plate.
But it was the Diamondbacks who struck the first blow, David Peralta clobbering his seventh home-run of the season with one out in the fourth (below). That was a mere blip in the pitchers’ duel which was unfolding, neither side having an at-bat with a man in scoring position in the fourth or fifth. Indeed, Arizona hadn’t had one at all through five innings, despite having the lead, and Samardzija’s pitch-count was still a troublingly efficient 55. But the game outcome likely hinged on a sixth inning, where San Francisco failed to take advantage of another great opportunity, and Arizona did.
After getting the first out in the sixth easily enough, Kelly allowed consecutive singles followed by a four-pitch walk to the Obese Raccoon. That was enough for Torey Lovullo, who lifted Kelly after fewer than 90 pitches. He turned to Yoshihisa Hirano, which was potentially a bit disturbing, considering his 5.65 ERA. But Hirano has been very good at stopping inherited runners from scoring: overall in his D-backs career, he came into this appearance having allowed 6-of-38 to score, a rate barely half that of the 30% posted overall by NL relievers last year. Make is 6-of-41 now, as he got Brandon Crawford to swing over the top of a full-count splitter, and Kevin Pillar to fly out, preserving the 1-0 lead.
The bottom of the inning saw Jarrod Dyson walk and steal second - the D-backs are now 11-0 for stolen bases in May. One out later, Bruce Bochy made the ill-advised decision to walk Peralta and pitch to Adam Jones, who made him pay with an RBI double. Ketel Marte then legged out an infield single, and what had seemed like a game finely balanced on a knife-edge, was now definitely skewing toward Arizona. Hirano and Andrew Chafin got through the seventh; and if Season 7 of Game of Thrones has proved divisive, Inning 7 of Game of Thrones Night proved a real crowd pleaser, for the home fans at least, as the D-backs loaded the bases with no outs... then, for once, cashed in.
Avila drew another walk. Wilmer Flores (pinch-hitting for Chafin) singles, and Dyson must have been taking lessons from Tim Locastro, for he got hit by a pitch, while trying to bunt. Bochy seemed to disagree with the umpire’s decision that Dyson had pulled back, getting himself tossed from the game. It’s the third time already in this young season the Giants’ manager has been ejected. But, let’s face it, if I had his job, I might well be making every effort to avoid having to watch San Franciso playing. I’d probably be out there, kicking dirt on the plate in the first inning. Anyway, that loaded the bases, before Eduardo Escobar unclogged them with a triple, then scored on a Giants’ error, making the score 7-0.
Jimmie Sherfy worked the final two innings, preserving the... uh, nine-hitter, one off the Arizona record for a shut-out. [That came last June 28, when Arizona beat Miami 4-0, despite allowing ten hits.] It lowered Sherfy’s career ERA to 0.87, and he has allowed a run in only two of his first 28 regular-season outings. That’s a mark surpassed by three pitchers in baseball history. Matt Smith and Donnie Hart were 27/28 and, of course, Brad Ziegler began his career with 29 consecutive scoreless outings. Adam Jones went 3-for-4 and is batting .500 (11-for-22) over the last six games, raising his batting average 32 points from a season-low .255. Marte and Flores had two hits apiece.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Jon Snow: Yoshihisa Hirano, +27.9%
Tyrion Lannister: Jones, +18.2%; Peralta, +13.8%; Kelly, +12.2%
Cersei + Jamie Lannister: Christian Walker, -7.4%
Present in the Gameday Thread were: AzDbackfanInDc, BobDolio, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Hannibal4467, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeDavisAZ, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Rockkstarr12, ShirtOffYourBack, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, asteroid, chronicles_of_the_desert, kilnborn, onedotfive, ponus, since_98 and suroeste. Comment of the night to onedotfive, though I was very tempted to award it to DeadManG’s failed prediction which followed immediately below...
It was announced after the game that Zack Godley will be starting tomorrow’s game for the D-backs. But how long he will last, or how the team will handle things after him, with no apparent regular “starter” to hand... I have as much idea there, as I have about what will happen in the Game of Thrones finale on Sunday night. Hopefully, the body count of beloved characters will be slightly less for the D-backs!