Record: 67-66. Pace: 82-80. Change on 2018: -6.
Mike Leake pitched into the eighth inning, and picked up his first W as a Diamondback. He got some key help from the defense, and the offense did just enough to complete a two-game sweep of the Giants in San Francisco. The team did lose Ketel Marte, who appeared to have a bit of a hamstring issue, as he ran the bases after tying the game up with a solo home-run. However, the good news is, it appears that was just a cramp, and he’s presumably not expected to miss significant time.
Initially, however, it looked like Arizona were going to continue their error-strewn peformance from last night. Brandon Belt singled off Leake with one out, and took off for second as the next batter struck out. Alex Avila’s throw down, sailed off to the first-base side, skidding past Eduardo Escobar into the outfield. The runner reached third, and came across after a hit-by-pitch and a single, to give San Francisco a 1-0 lead after one. That was all the offense either side would muster through four innings. Jeff Samardzija didn’t have any clean innings, but the D-backs had some long battles - the first three PA combined to make him throw 20 pitches - and helped to drive up his pitch-count.
Ketel ties it.— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 28, 2019
He has since been removed from tonight's game. We'll pass along an update as soon as we have one. pic.twitter.com/WRiemGr8i4
With two outs in the fifth, Arizona leveled things up. Marte took an 0-2 pitch from Samardzija just over the fence at the back of Triples Alley. Which makes it sound like a bit of a weak hit, but the estimated distance was 437 feet... However, as he was approaching first-base, Ketel pulled up a bit lame, and had to Kirk Gibson his way around the bases, walking as if his right leg was encased in plaster. He left the game, but the team said later that it was just a hamstring cramp. With a day off tomorrow, hopefully he’ll be fine. Marte, incidentally, became the only D-back with multiple homers on an 0-2 count this year. Collectively, coming into tonight, the team was hitting .165/.198/.291 after falling behind 0-2.
The Diamondbacks continued to chip away, getting single runs in the sixth and seventh. They started off the sixth with three consecutive singles, the last of which was an RBI single by Adam Jones, that gave Arizona the lead put runners on the corner, still with no outs. However, they weren’t able to get any more, as Nick Ahmed (in a bit of a slump: hitless over the past week, having gone 0-for-22 in that time) and Leake struck out, around a squibber to the catcher from Avila. But Christian Walker delivered some two-out magic in the seventh, his RBI single scoring Tim Locastro [Later, Locastro was hit by his 17th pitch of the year, so needs three more for a new franchise record there]
Meanwhile, Mike Leake was being an extremely pleasant surprise indeed. Admittedly, no team hits worse at home in the majors this year than the Giants: they have a .656 OPS in their own park. But these are still major-league hitters. After a two-out single in the third, Leake retired the next 14 batters faced, until a one-out walk in the eighth. It was a typically non-overwhelming Leake performance, with only two strikeouts, his fifth consecutive outing for Arizona with <= 3 K’s - you need to go back to Randall Delgado to find a longer streak of strikeout-averse starts by an Arizona pitcher. [He had six straight, but it took him over three years, and the six totaled only 22.1 innings, rather than Leake’s 28.2 in five]
It was also the first start in over three years where an Arizona pitcher recorded an out after the seventh inning, with as few as two K’s. That would be Zack Greinke’s complete-game, two K shutout of the Rays on June 7, 2016. He got some big help from his defense: Escobar, starting at second tonight, made a nice play, throwing across his body, and Jake Lamb had a couple of great diving stops at third. Leake was lifted after the walk - the only one he issued. He went 7.1 innings, needing just 95 pitches, giving up four hits. T.J. McFarland managed to screw things up with one pitch, allowing an RBI double, the run becoming the second charged to Leake.
Kevin Ginkel came on, and walked the first batter he faced, putting the go-ahead run on base, to join the tying one in scoring position. But that turned out to be no bad thing, as the art of infield defensive positioning came to the fore. For Ginkel got Alex Dickerson to line out (above), right to Ildemaro Vargas, who had just come into the game when Ginkel entered, as part of a double-switch. Vargas then flipped quickly to Walker, as the runner had forgotten that baseball rule about freezing on a line-drive, and wasn’t able to get back to first in time. The threat was averted, and Archie Bradley came in for a positively humdrum 1-2-3 ninth inning, picking up his third save in as many days.
Not exactly an offensive explosion, but if we can win a Mike Leake start while only scoring three runs, I’ll take it. Marte and Walker had two hits apiece. The latter has been on fire during this road trip, going 9-for-18 during the five games. His season OPS is up to .832, which is 31 points more than a certain first-baseman I could mention... And as also mentioned in the preview, that means the Dodgers can’t clinch the division against the Diamondbacks. The Cubs won, so Arizona stays four back of them for the second wild-card, but did pick up a game on the Brewers, Mets and Phillies, who all lost tonight.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Krakatoa: Mike Leake, +27.3%
Vesuvius: Walker, +21.0%; Ginkel, +19.3%; Bradley, +18.4%; Marte, +15.4%
Yellowstone: T.J. McFarland, -18.7%
Sunset Crater: Ahmed, -15.5%; Avila, -14.8%
A fairly light GDT, just crossing the 150 mark. Present were: DeadManG, Gore4HOF, GuruB, Jim McLennan, Johnneu, Justin27, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Schilling2001, Snake_Bitten, Sprankton, Theolser4 and kilnborn. The last-named gets comment of the night for the following, even though it would have been rather more applicable to just about any other Mike Leake outing in Sedona Red!
A rare Wednesday day-off for the D-backs tomorrow, as they make the long haul back to Arizona from... er, Northern California. We’ll reconvene on Thursday, back at Chase as we face Los Angeles for the last time this year, in a set of four games. Merrill Kelly will start the opener, with first pitch at 6:40 pm on Thursday.