Record: 54-54. Pace: 81-81. Change on 2018: -5.
This game had disaster written all over it, as if it was being directed by Roland Emmerich. The D-backs were coming off a staggeringly flat series against the worst team in the National League, dropping three of four to the Marlins. They were going from that, to face the team with the best record in the American League, on their home territory. It had not been a happy hunting ground for the team, historically. As mentioned in the preview, the Diamondbacks have a 2-10 record over their history against the Yankees in New York, including the 2001 World Series. Making things worse, our starting pitcher had a 6.10 ERA on the season. Might as well catch up on housework, amIrite?
So, of course, through five innings the Diamondbacks were 3-0 up, with Taylor Clarke holding them to just two hits. Because this is how baseball works. Maybe fatherhood agrees with Clarke, who was just off the paternity list. I seem to recall, a long time ago, another D-backs pitcher coming back and throwing a complete game or close to it. After a long period of my Google-fu skills failing to pin down who it was, I eventually figured out (searching the word “birth” on the SnakePit proved to be the key!) it was Ian Kennedy, who tossed a complete-game against Philadelphia on April 25th, 2011, the day after his wife gave birth to their first child. This felt like a Lite version of that outing.
It may also have helped that he was given a lead before even taking the mound. In the top of the first, three out of the first four Diamondbacks reached, on two singles and a walk, loading the bases with one out. Adam Jones flew out to right, but deep enough for David Peralta to come home from third, as the throw home was well up the first-base line. Despite being staked to an early advantage, Clarke did look a little bit wobbly during the early going. With two outs in the first, he walked one batter then hit the next, to put the tying run suddenly in scoring position. But he regrouped, getting former Diamondback Didi Gregorius to line out to Jones for the final out.
The second and third innings were scoreless on both sides, before the Diamondbacks brought two more across in the fourth. Christian Walker took full advantage of the short porch in right field (above) for a 342-foot home-run with a launch angle of just 19 degrees. It was his 20th home-run of the season, a mark reached only twice before by Arizona rookies. Travis Lee has 22 in 1998, so that should be well within reach the rest of the year, and Chris Young reached 32 in 2007. Both of those men received Rookie of the Year votes: I wonder if the same will be true for Walker? Later in the inning, Nick Ahmed drove in Jones with an RBI single, making the score 3-0.
That inning was punctuated by Yasmany Tomas being called out for batter’s interference, and his struggles at the plate continued. This was his first start since June 2, 2017, but it didn’t go all that well. As in, 0-for-3 with a strikeout, a double-play and that batter’s interference. He also just about caused a disaster in the outfield, before being replaced at DH by Jake Lamb. Small sample size, obviously, but 0-for-6 with three strikeouts doesn’t exactly do much to inspire a great deal of hope. Unless something changes, Tomas may turn out to be the poster-child for the empty meaningless of stats lines from Reno, especially with this kind of plate discipline.
Yasmany Tomas has seen 15 pitches tonight and swung at 12 of them:— Jack Sommers (@shoewizard59) July 31, 2019
1st PA: SL, FS, B,SS (K)
2nd PA: FS, SS, FS, FS, B, (Batter Interference, out)
3rd PA: SS, FS, FS, B, 4-6-3 DP
The Yankees finally got on the board in the sixth inning, though it required a major assist from Adam Jones to do so. He completely ole’d a line-drive off the bat of Aaron Judge in right-field. While it was struck quite well, it looked like Jones completely mis-read the path of the ball, and it whizzed past him to the wall for a two-base error. Another double followed, driving in a run, though Clarke did finish on his own terms, getting a pop-up for the first out. He left after 5.1 innings, having allowed just the unearned run, on three hits and two walks, with six strikeouts. Though slightly less an impressive line than his last performance, that came against those Orioles, so this was certainly much tougher a test.
Yoshihisa Hirano came in. It would be a bit of a stretch, putting it mildly, to tie his performance to that of Byung-Hyun Kim in the 2001 World Series, unless “Asian relief pitchers in Yankee Stadium” is considered a thing. But after he walked the first batter he saw and, one out later, allowed a single to load the bases, you could be forgiven for wondering if the ghost of Kim was hovering somewhere over the mound. Fortunately, that narrative was terminated, as Hirano got a bouncer to Walker at first-base, and rushed over to take the throw and get the final out of the sixth. Carson Kelly then restored the lead for Arizona, with his 14th home-run of the season.
If you wondered how things would look in the Arizona bullpen after the dismissal of Greg Holland from the role of closer, your answer could perhaps be found here. Hirano was followed by Yoan Lopez, Andrew Chafin and Archie Bradley, though it was interesting to see that none of them came in at the start of an inning. Lopez did allow a run, serving up the gift of a center-cut 97 mph fastball, which Tyler Wade gratefully accepted for his first home-run of 2019. But otherwise, the D-backs bullpen was solid, throwing 3.2 innings of one-run ball, on two hits and a walk, with three strikeouts. Bradley got the final four outs for his first save of 2019, extending his scoreless streak to 12.1 innings.
“This team, after a tough night of baseball, showed its resiliency and its toughness. This is what we're all about."— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) July 31, 2019
Torey Lovullo recaps the @Dbacks 4-2 win over the Yankees.
Postgame press conference presented by @AutoNation pic.twitter.com/F3Xxz6nFF8
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Wild Thing: Christian Walker, +16.3%
I think... you move me: Clarke, +15.2%; Hirano, +14.8%; Bradley, +11.4%
But I wanna know for sure: Ketel Marte, -9.3%
Gameday Threaders were as follows: AZDovs11, AzDbackfanInDc, Craig’s City Counsell, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Johnneu, Makakilo, MesaDBacksFan, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, Sprankton, The-Icon, dbrowell, edbigghead, gamepass, gzimmerm, kilnborn, onedotfive, ponus and rustynails77. Comment of the Thread to Smurf1000:
We’re back at it again, tomorrow, in a day game which will bump up nicely against the trade deadline. As the above comment suggests, Zack Greinke gets the start for the D-backs, with first pitch scheduled for 10:05 am, Arizona time.