Record: 48-47. Pace: 82-80. Change on 2018: -4.
Alex Young extended his winning streak at the beginning of his major-league career, and Ketel Marte had a key two-run single, as the D-backs got back above .500 as they won the opening game in Texas. While Young allowed a run for the first time in the majors, this was perhaps the most impressive outing, especially in terms of the quality of opposition. The Rangers in Arlington are considerably tougher a proposition than the Giants in San Francisco, or the Rockies in any park not named after crap beer. But he held them to one run over 5.1 innings on three hits and a walk. The run came on a solo home-run off the bat of Joey Gallo, and Young is neither the first nor the last pitcher who’ll suffer that.
I was a little surprised the team isn’t apparently trying to stretch Young out. His three starts this year for the D-backs have been 74, 71 and now 79 pitches. Admittedly, there was a relief outing between #1 and #2, but his stuff has been so good, I’m feeling we should be greedy and trying to get him through six innings or more. However, I understand the need to be cautious with a young arm. Tonight, Young did what he has done all the time: get ahead by throwing strike one, in this case to 13 of the 19 batters he faced. That then allowed him to use his variety of pitches. Though it did seem from what I saw that he had some issues locating to lefties. Small sample size, but all three walks he has allowed have been to LHB.
The one today was to Gallo in the second, and the pitch chart shown above gives you an idea of what I mean. Perhaps Young just didn’t want anything to do with Gallo. Considering the result when they next faced off in the fourth, and Young gave the batter something in the strikezone, I can understand Alex’s caution. Still, that was the only meaningful blot on an excellent performance. And all the more so, considering that Young had a lot of friends and family in attendance tonight. He played his college ball in Texas, at TCU: indeed, Young was also picked by the Texas Rangers in the 32nd round of the 2012 draft, though obviously didn’t sign for them.
On offense, the D-backs figured to have a tough task here against Lance Lynn. They had never beaten him, his 12 wins led the American League and at Globe Life Park this year, he was 8-0 in ten starts. But with the help of some defensive indifference - not the last we’d see here - Arizona got on the board in the first. Jarrod Dyson ended up at second on a hit misplayed by Shin-Soo Choo in left field, and scored on Eduardo Escobar’s single, one out later. Jake Lamb followed with a double, to put men on second and third, and give Arizona the chance of a big inning. However, Kevin Cron and Alex Avila provided the aircon in Texas, striking out (they combined for seven strikeouts today) and the opportunity was lost.
Lynn settled down, retiring 12 in a row after Lamb’s double, and some speculated that the missed chance could be costly, especially after Gallo’s homer tied the game in the fourth. However, with one out in the fifth, the D-backs rallied. Singles by Ildemaro Vargas and Tim Locastro got things started, and then Jarrod Dyson worked an extremely impressive walk after falling behind 0-2. That loaded the bases for Marte, who came through with a two-run single, giving Arizona a lead they’d never relinquish. They were then able to add two more in the sixth, Ildemaro Vargas becoming the second Diamondback this year to homer on his birthday (Christian Walker did it on March 28).
After Walker’s exit, with one down in the bottom of the sixth, Archie Bradley got the second out, and Andrew Chafin the next four. It left Arizona apparently sitting pretty, leading 5-1 after seven innings. But there was still tension to be had, courtesy of Yoshihisa Hirano. He had seemed to be trending the right way, after a rough start to the year which saw his ERA end May at 5.75. Since June 1, he had allowed just two earned runs in 13.1 IP though the K:BB ratio over that time was still 13:8. Tonight was definitely not a step in a good direction, as Hirano failed to retire any of the three batters faced, allowing a single and a pair of walks. Texas had the tying run at the plate with no outs and the heart of their order up.
Torey Lovullo didn’t hang around, turning to Yoan Lopez to try and clean up the bases-loaded, no outs mess. It could hardly have gone much better for Lopez. While one inherited runner scored on a sacrifice fly, Hunter Pence then lined a pitch straight to Jake Lamb at first, who trotted back to the bag for the inning-ending double-play. Arizona then took advantage of two Texas errors (and it could have been scored three) in the top of the ninth, to get that run back and add three more. With the board now showing 9-2 in favor of the visitors, Greg Holland sat down, T.J. McFarland worked a scoreless ninth, and the Diamondbacks had climbed Mt. 500 once again.
Two hits apiece for Marte, Vargas and Tim Locastro, the latter also stealing a base. He’s now 13-0 in SB attempts. Since MLB started tracking caught stealing in 1951, no player has stolen more bases with a 100% success than Locastro. Dyson also swiped a bag, which improved the D-backs’ overall record on the season to 52-6. Two more successes and they’ll have cracked that 90% rate discussed by Fangraphs last week.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Davy Crockett: Alex Young, +21.4%
Jim Bowie: Lopez, +20.2%; Vargas, +16.6%; Dyson, +11.8%; Marte, +10.6%
Antonio López de Santa Anna: Yoshihisa Hirano, -18.7%
Present in the Gameday Thread were: AZPerson, AzDbackfanInDc, AzRattler, DeadManG, Dowdell, Gilbertsportsfan, Gore4HOF, GuruB, Hannibal4467, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Jus-10, Justin27, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Rockkstarr12, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, edbigghead, kilnborn, onedotfive, ponus, redsedona and since_98. The one red comment belonged to kilnborn, and I’m very happy to have made it so...
Elsewhere in the wild-card race, the Phillies, Nationals and Brewers won (the first-named scoring three in the last of the ninth to walk-off the Dodgers), but the Cardinals and Rockies lost (the last named despite scoring three in the ninth to force extras against the Giants). That leaves the wild-card standings as:
- Nationals: +2
- Phillies: 0
- Brewers: -0.5
- D-backs -1
- Cardinals: -1
- Rockies: -2.5
Tomorrow, Robbie Ray starts for the D-backs as they seek to sweep this short, two-game set in Texas. First pitch is once again just after 5pm, Arizona time.