Record: 50-48. Pace: 83-79. Change on 2018: -3.
Over the All-Star break, I plotted a path for the D-backs to 85 wins. Seven games into the second half, they’re holding steady as they go, having gone 4-3. Indeed, they’re fractionally ahead of the projected schedule, which called for them to win 3.68 games by this point. But no thanks to Taylor Clarke, whose return from the injured list tonight proved little different from his sub-mediocre results in the first half.
When your starting pitcher can’t even get through four innings, it’s rarely a good thing. Indeed, over the last 22 occasions it had happened to the D-backs, dating back to April 2018, Arizona had gone 1-21. No prizes for guessing who was the starting pitcher in the “1”. That would be... Clarke, who lasted 3.1 innings on June 10 in Philadelphia, a game still won by the Diamondbacks, 13-8. This evening’s outing was little if any better: Clarke lasted 3.2 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks without a strikeout. Indeed, there have only been two wins in the past five years for the D-backs when their starter failed to record a K: Matt Koch (May 16 last year) and Taijuan Walker (June 27, 2017).
In his defense, Clarke’s start tonight was always going to be short, as he was coming back from injury, and his rehab outing in Visalia had involved only 70 pitches. But his last eight starts in the majors have lasted a TOTAL of only 30.1 innings, so this one was right in the same wheelhouse, at less than four innings. Truth be told, he’s really a de facto opener, and not a very good one at that - his ERA since May 30 is now 8.60. The return of Jon Duplantier can’t come soon enough. Or Luke Weaver. Or Walker. Or what’s Bronson Arroyo doing these days? We’re just fortunate that the offense realized how to hit at home, with that six-run third. An inning in which Clarke, incidentally, made the first AND second outs...
After a first inning where the damage was limited to a walk to Christian Yelich - we’ll take that, Clarke started to fall apart in the second. The first three Brewers all got hits, driving in a pair of runs. Arizona got one run back in the bottom half, Nick Ahmed having a sterling at-bat (okay, technically not an at-bat) before driving in our first run with a sacrifice fly on the 11th bat of the plate-appearance, scoring Adam Jones. However, last night’s defensive villain, Lorenzo Cain, lined a pitch down into the D-backs’ bullpen to open the third, restoring the Brewers’ advantage, and making it 3-1. They might have scored more, save for a nifty play by Jarrod Dyson, throwing Christian Yelich out, stretching at second.
Clarke then struck out on three pitches to open the bottom of the third. At that point, it seemed kinda unlikely this half-inning would take 27 minutes to complete or that it would require 32 Milwaukee pitches before the next out would be recorded. Yet, that’s what happened, as the next four D-backs didn’t just get hits, they hit for the cycle. In order. Because Dyson singled, Ketel Marte doubled, Eduardo Escobar tripled and Christian Walker homered, as Arizona scored four runs in 15 pitches. The fun continued with an Adam Jones single and Jake Lamb walk, then Nick Ahmed reached on an error and after a wild pitch, Alex Avila was intentionally walked. Eight batters in a row reached, in seven different ways.
Although the Brewers would score another run off Clarke in the fourth, Escobar got it right back, with his 22nd home-run of the season. Arizona would then extend their lead to 10-4, with further RBI in the fifth from Dyson and Marte. But if you though it would be nice and easy, Matt Andriese had other ideas in the seventh. Admittedly, he might have been shaken up after taking a hard ground-ball back to the mound off his foot. But that’s no excuse for going two-run homer, double, RBI double. All of a sudden, the tying run was in the on-deck circle for Milwaukee, and with the team already having used Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano before Andriese entered the game, things were getting far too damn interesting.
Fortunately, Yoan Lopez was able to bounce back from his shaky outing in the series opener, retiring all five batters he faced. Greg Holland was equally nails in the ninth, with a perfect inning, and the D-backs had pulled out a very important, come from behind victory. They were actually outhit 12-10 by the Brewers, and both teams had the same number of hits with runners in scoring position. But Arizona drew more walks (8) than they had strikeouts (7). Three of those BBs were by Jake Lamb and Walker had two in addition to his home-run. On the hits front, Dyson, Marte, Escobar and Jones had two each, though the last-named also hit into two double-plays, giving him 13 for the year.
Oh, and Marte earned his second career ejection, getting tossed by home-plate umpire Sam Holbrook after throwing down his bat and helmet - not AT the umpire - following his strikeout to end the seventh. Hard to blame him, given Holbrook’s woefully inept calls in that at-bat. Pitches #1 and #4 were both called strikes, despite both being well off the plate. And that wasn’t the only awful call he made tonight. As I mentioned on Twitter, must be nice to have a job where you can throw your customers out after you screw up. Still, an important win tonight, on a night when most of the other teams in the wild-card chase also won. Here are Torey’s post-game thought.
“You score as many runs as we did in a couple innings, you’re doing a lot right.”— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) July 20, 2019
Torey Lovullo breaks down the @Dbacks 10-7 win over the Brewers, which featured a 3rd-inning cycle.
Postgame press conference presented by @AutoNation pic.twitter.com/jfeVFjuOxa
The National League wild-card standings now look like this:
- Nationals: +1
- Cardinals: 0
- Brewers: -0.5
- Diamondbacks: -1
- Giants: -2
That’s pretty much it for now. The Rockies are now 4.5 games out, so we can forget about them for now, I think. But a win tomorrow, with Zack Greinke on the mound, would allow the D-backs to pass the Brewers.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Tutankhamun: Eduardo Escobar, +17.1%
Pharaoh enough: Marte, +16.1%; Walker, +11.6%; Jones, +11.5%; Lopez, +10.2%
Curse of the Tomb: Taylor Clarke, -20.4%
Needs his Mummy: Matt Andriese, -10.2%
Not a bad turnout for a Friday night, with 368 comments. Present were: AZDovs11, AZPerson, BobDolio, DORRITO, DeadManG, Gilbertsportsfan, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Johnneu, Justin27, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Rockkstarr12, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, Sprankton, Ubersnake, kilnborn, onedotfive and redsedona. Comment of the night to Snake_Bitten, though remind me to send out a memo on the correct use of the sarcasm font. :)
Tomorrow, as mentioned, it’s Zackurday, and we’re back to 5:10 pm first pitches, as we see if it’s moving day for the Diamondbacks.