Record: 59-59. Pace: 81-81. Change on 2018: -5.
You’d be forgiven for giving up on this game, four Los Angeles batters into the bottom of the first inning - and, it turns out, correct to do so. Both halves of the frame had started the same way, with the lead-off man for each side being hit by a pitch. For Arizona, this meant Tim Locastro came one HBP closer to claiming the franchise record. It was #16, in only his 66th game of the season: he needs four more to surpass Justin Upton’s current mark of 19, set in 2011. That was all the D-backs would muster, as the next three were retired in order. That brought Mike Leake to the mound, and he responded by hitting Joc Pederson. Unfortunately, Leake was only able to retire the next [checks notes] one hitter.
Instead, the next two Dodgers, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger, both took Leake deep. Those were home-runs #28 and #29 for Leake on the season, tying him for the major-league lead, and dug the Diamondbacks a 3-0 hole with one batter retired. Considering that, as mentioned in the preview, Hyun-Jin Ryu had allowed more than two runs just once this year, the odds were clearly not in Arizona’s favour. Things did not get much better for Leake in the second, allowing another two hits, around a successful bunt by Ryu, which extended the Dodgers’ lead to 4-0. To be honest, I seriously considered finding something better to do, and faking the recap off the box-score, as the D-backs were hitless through three.
That said, I can always appreciate really good pitching, and that’s what we have been privileged to witness from Ryu this season, at a historic level. He was able to trigger some really ugly swings from the Diamondbacks, on pitches well out of the zone, yet you got the feeling those pitches were thrown out there deliberately. His control seemed impeccable. When the D-backs were patient, and took pitches, they inevitably found themselves behind in the count. If they were aggressive and went up there first-pitch hacking, they were equally inevitably swinging at pitcher’s pitches. Mistakes of which advantage could be taken were few and far between.
Leake took sole possession of the major-league lead in home-runs in the bottom of the third, giving up another two-run bomb to put the Dodgers up 6-0. At this point, it was more or less the prospect of seeing a no-hitter, which was the only thing sustaining my interest to any real degree. And even that evaporated in the top of the fourth, when Christian Walker got Arizona’s first hit, dumping a pitch out to right-center. Hope of ending the shutout briefly flourished in the fifth, as an Adam Jones single and Carson Kelly walk helped the D-backs put two on with one out. Leake dropped down a sacrifice bunt, to move the runners into scoring position, only for Locastro to ground out and leave the Diamondbacks still off the board after five innings.
Leake allowed his usual home-run in the bottom half, followed by a pair of doubles and a sacrifice fly, to make it 8-0 Dodgers. That was the end of the afternoon for Leake, who became the first Diamondbacks’ pitcher this season to allow eight earned runs in an outing. The last was Matt Koch, on May 16 last year, and this gives Leake the following line with Arizona after two outings this season:
Mike Leake: 10.1 IP, 21(!) H, 11 R, 10 ER, 5 HR, 3 BB, 7 SO, 8.71 ERA
If his purpose was to make me feel nostalgic for the pitching outings of Taylor Clarke... Well, achievement unlocked.
Ryu finally exited after seven scoreless innings, lowering his ERA for the season to 1.45, having allowed five hits, all singles, and a walk with four strikeouts. The Diamondbacks did manage to get on the board in the eighth, with Eduardo Escobar hitting his 26th home-run of the season, just fair down the line to right. Matt Andriese worked a pair of scoreless innings and, with a trip to Coors Field looming, Torey Lovullo opted to try and preserve the bullpen a bit, turning to Alex Avila to pitch the bottom of the eighth. It initially didn’t go well, Avila loading the bases without recording an out, on two hits around a walk. But he came back nicely, with a double-play and fly-ball to get out of it with just one run allowed.
The Diamondbacks did make the final score a little more respectable, courtesy of Nick Ahmed’s 12th home-run of the season, a two-run shot with no outs in the ninth, that also scored Adam Jones. The later innings also saw Blake Swihart get his first at-bats since May, but he went 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts. Escobar, Walker and Jones each had two of the team’s nine hits. However, Arizona managed a remarkable and unwanted feat, going ohfer the series with runners in scoring position: they were a collective 0-for-16 there, across the three games. Given that, winning one game of three is probably rather better than I’d have expected.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
24-karat gold: Tim Locastro, +1.5%
Fools' gold: Mike Leake, -35.4%
Unsurprisingly, a lightly-trafficked Gameday Thread after the first couple of innings. Thanks to those present, who were: AZDovs11, Augdogs, AzDbackfanInDc, Gilbertsportsfan, GuruB, Imstillhungry95, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Justin27, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, SenSurround, Snake_Bitten, Ubersnake, William Kubas, onedotfive and pyroman168. Comment of the thread to Gilbertsportsfan:
Though not really very accurate, in the end. As I mentioned, I greatly preferred yesterday’s game, mostly because I didn’t have to watch any of it... Anyway. that’s the last time we have to visit Chavez Ravine this season, which is nice. On to Colorado got the D-backs, for a three-game series against the plummeting Rockies. I’m sure the offense is pleased about that. On the other hand, Merrill Kelly get the “pleasure” of starting the first game in Coors Field tomorrow night, with a first pitch at 5:40 pm, Arizona time