Record: 64-63. Pace: 82-80. Change on 2018: -7.
On a night when 1,200 mystery bats were sold off by the Diamondbacks’ players for various charities, it seemed fitting that it was the offense which carried the day, and got the team back to a winning record. Arizona also turned some key double-plays, took full advantage of some errors by the Rockies, scoring five unearned runs, and the early departure of their starter with an apparent injury. Against that, Alex Young had the lowest quality of quality starts possible, and the bullpen didn’t exactly shut things down, T.J. McFarland in particular taking another step closer to DFALand.
.@NickAhmed13 just crushed his 17th home run, a career-high!— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) August 21, 2019
He's also donating proceeds from tonight's charity broadcast to the @PHXMission. Help out a great cause: https://t.co/88yGR9rXkz pic.twitter.com/znHiiOk7QJ
Early on though, the game was on pace to be completed in about two hours. Both Alex Young and the Rockies’ Kyle Freeland came out throwing strikes and getting quick outs, helped by a generous strike-zone from home-plate umpire Dan Bellino. Young needed only 27 pitches to get through three innings, facing one batter over the minimum, that being a one-out double in the second. Freeland took 35 pitches through his three innings, and also allowed one hit However, that gave Arizona the lead, because it was Nick Ahmed’s 17th home-run of the season, leading off the third (above). It marked a new high for Nick.
It would have been nice if Young had come out and posted a shutdown inning, but neither he nor Freeland proved capable of doing that for a bit. The Rockies took a 2-1 lead in eight pitches, Trevor Story getting his first of four hits on the night, and Nolan Arenado following with his contractually-obligated home-run. But Arizona responded, loading the bases with no outs in the bottom half, on two hits around an error, and scoring two of their own. Adam Jones tied things up with a sharp single back up the middle, and Ahmed also tied his career high in RBI, driving in his 70th run of the season with a sacrifice fly. After an intentional walk to Carson Kelly reloaded the bases, Young grounded out, but Arizona had a 3-2 lead.
Young wasn’t able to hold that either in the fifth. Worse still, he committed the cardinal sin for a pitcher of walking his opposite number, with two outs to boot. And the Rockies made him pay for it, following up with a pair of hits, locking the game back up at three. The D-backs couldn’t respond, but the sixth proved to be a pivotal inning. It looked as if the Rockies were destined to take the lead, opening the frame with a pair of hits to put runners on the corners with no outs. But Young managed to Houdini his way out of it, getting a strikeout and the first of three double-plays in consecutive innings, to keep Arizona tied. And if you wanted a demonstration of momentum in action, you were about to get it.
With one out, a rare Arenado error put Jones on second. Freeland then went to a 3-0 count on Ahmed before leaving the field with a trainer, with what looked like it might have been a groin injury. Enter former D-back Bryan Shaw who has become the poster boy for why paying mid-inning relievers big bucks is a bad idea. Signed to a three-year, $25 million contract before the 2018 campaign, he has put up a 5.79 ERA since. And he’s now three appearances from a $9 million option for 2021 becoming guaranteed, turning it into a four-year, $34 million contract. Speaking as an Arizona Diamondbacks fan, I look forward to that happening.
Because he was awful tonight. Shaw walked the first two batters he faced, then Jake Lamb found a hole in the infield for a two-run single. An RBI groundout was followed by a David Peralta single, and Eduardo Escobar drove in a pair more runs, finally getting the 10th triple, for which he has been hunting over the past few games. With it, he became the third Arizona player in club history to have 20+ home-runs, 20+ doubles and 10+ triples in a season. Steve Finley did it twice (1999 and 2003), while Stephen Drew also achieved the feat in 2008. Escobar is the first switch-hitter to reach the triple milestone since Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins in 2007.
8-3 up, I felt safe in leaving the living-room to get the recap started. “Not so fast,” said T.J. McFarland, as he also loaded the bases with no outs in the 7th. Admittedly, a lead-off error by Wilmer Flores didn’t help, but TJ’s ERA this year is now at 5.21. He has been as unreliable this season as he was reliable in 2018, when he had a 2.00 ERA in 72 innings: oh, relievers, “volatility” is thy middle-name... I suppose, at $1.45 million, he’s cheap enough, but on this kind of performance, you have to wonder about picking up his option. Yoan Lopez came in, to try and clean up the mess. Instead, a lead-off bloop single meant the Rockies had gone from five down, to having the tying run at the plate without recording an out.
Another double-play helped, even if a run crossed the plate, and an RBI double allowed Colorado to close the gap to 8-6 before the inning ended. Arizona weren’t able to tack on in the seventh or eighth, the former ending with Jarrod Dyson being caught stealing for only the fourth time this year. Kevin Ginkel worked a scoreless eighth, with Eduardo Escobar doing a particularly good job as pivot man on an inning-ending double-play, scooping up a low throw from Ketel Marte. That set the stage for Archie Bradley in the ninth. He has been kinda busy of late: this was his third day taking the mound in a row, for the first time since June 9-11 last year (and that streak started with outings of 8 and 5 pitches, not 23 + 20).
A lead-off double spelled trouble - not least because it meant Bradley would have to face Arenado, who hit a walk-off home-run when they saw each other in the Colorado finale. A ground-out advanced the runner, and my heart skipped a beat as Story launched a long fly ball. Jones was able to haul it in at the track, although the runner scored from third, to make it 8-7, and bring Arenado up as the tying run. As last night though, Bradley won the battle, getting Arenado to pop out, to record his sixth save. Peralta had three hits, and Ahmed a walk in addition to his home-run, as the D-backs moved back above Mt. .500.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
George Bernard Shaw: Jake Lamb, +17.4%
Sandie Shaw: Jones, +15.5%; Ginkel, +14.1%; Ahmed, +13.9%
Bryan Shaw: Wilmer Flores, -12.2%
Tommy Shaw: T.J. McFarland, -10.1%
Thanks to all the people who showed up in the GDT: DORRITO, DeadManG, DesertWeagle, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Johnneu, Justin27, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, Rockkstarr12, Schilling2001, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, Sprankton, kilnborn, onedotfive and suroeste. Comment of the night to Jack, for this little meme-gem.
Still, the win’s the thing, I guess! The D-backs get another chance to sweep the Rockies tomorrow; let’s hope it goes better than the last time, though at least I imagine we won’t be seeing Bradley tomorrow. On the other hand, we will be seeing Mike Leake. I think the picture above might be getting recycled.