Record: 56-56. Pace: 81-81. Change on 2018: -6.
After Friday night’s woeful performance, the offense managing just one hit - and that, an infield knock, by their pitcher - the prospects for the D-backs winning this series seemed bleak. They were facing two of the best pitchers in the National League, in Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. Even after last night’s unexpected outburst let them even the series, they were still sending up a rookie in Taylor Clarke against the winter’s big free-agent signing for Washington in Corbin. And yet... Even though the bullpen blew not one but two leads, Arizona prevailed to win the rubber game and take the series.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. After the D-backs fell into a 2-0 hole early, they come back immediately, and take a 3-2 lead on a hit by Nick Ahmed. The structure was a little different today from yesterday, however. The Washington lead came courtesy of former Diamondback Gerardo Parra, who showed no ill effects from his... unfortunate pitching debut last night. He took advantage of a Clarke mistake for a two-run homer in the second. However, Adam Jones got the D-backs on the board with an RBI double down the left-field line, and after a walk to Christian Walker, Ahmed lobbed one deep into the left-center gap, scoring both men to give the D-backs the lead.
Is there anything Ketel can't do? pic.twitter.com/fNQi7Brbxw— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 4, 2019
Arizona were there able to extend the lead, thanks to Ketel Marte’s 24th home-run (above). This one was a bit different from the preceding twenty-three,. however, in that it required him to run rather than jog around the bases. He blasted a liner just to the left of center, and Parra’s despairing dive wasn’t able to snag it. The ball then took a favorable ricochet off the wall, going back towards center field, and Marte was waved around third by coach Tony Perezchica. The throw seemed to be in time, but was just up the third-base line far enough that Marte could avoid the catcher’s tag attempt and cross home-plate for Arizona’s second inside-the-park home-run of the season (Blake Swihart had the first on May 15, versus PIT).
Clarke had another decent outing, and it appears the recent uptick may be tied to an increased use of his slider. We’ve seen a lot more of it in the last two or three starts, and the results appear to have been positive. However, mistakes can still go a long way, as was proven when Brian Dozier hit a home-run to make the score 4-3, with two outs in the fourth. That means Clarke had allowed homers to both men who pitched emergency relief for the Nationals last night. I wonder if there has ever been a game where two men hit home-runs. the day after they both pitched? Got to think that is kinda rare. Clarke ended up going 5.2 innings, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk with three strikeouts.
I was a bit surprised he was lifted with two outs in the sixth, given his pitch count was still very manageable (87 to that point). It seemed particularly odd that Torey Lovullo would go to Andrew Chafin immediately after letting Clarke pitch to left-handed hitter Juan Soto. And it did not work out well either. Chafin walked his batter, and was pulled, being replaced by Yoan Lopez, who loaded the bases with a single and a walk. Then a curve-ball managed to fool Carson Kelly, skittering to the backstop and allowing the Nationals to tie up the game. An intentional walk re-loaded the bases so Lopez could face Corbin, and that worked out, but the damage had been done.
Arizona were able to answer back immediately, Walker singled, and Jones then delivered a more or less carbon-copy of his earlier hit, with another RBI double down into the left-field corner. Unfortunately, this lead was surrendered similarly by the Arizona bullpen. Yoshihisa Hirano was the culprit in the seventh. As in yesterday’s game, Trea Turner legged out another infield hit to Escobar, was then bunted over to second, and came home on a single to left-field, sliding in just ahead of the throw from David Peralta, and making it 5-5. After another walk, the D-backs bullpen, in the shape of Chafin, Lopez and Hirano had retired just two of eight batters faced. One was the pitcher and the other was a sacrifice. Not great.
He escaped, and in further proof of the meaningless of the W as a stat, it went to Hirano. For luckily, the offense was able once again to respond. It started with Tim Locastro doing Tim Locastro type things, i.e. getting hit by a pitch, for the 15th time this season. After a couple of pitches where Locastro seemed to have second stolen, Ketel Marte redeemed himself with a single. An Escobar fly-ball led Locastro advance and, after Walker struck out, Marte stole second. Jones then came up with his biggest hit of the game - and this one, surprisingly, was not a double down the left-field line. Instead, he punched the ball to right, scoring both runners and giving the Diamondbacks the lead once more, at 7-5.
You're just showing off now, @escobarmaracay! pic.twitter.com/y1R8MfZAFD— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 4, 2019
I was wondering how Torey Lovullo was going to manage the bullpen, with Lopez, Hirano and Chafin all used, and Archie Bradley working the eighth. Turns out, the answer was a six-out save for Bradley, which he locked down with little fuss, allowing one hit. Though it took a really good play by Escobar for the second out of the ninth, diving into foul territory for a ball off the bat of Anthony Rendon (above). It was Arizona’s sixth save involving at least four outs this year; they only had two in both 2017 and 2018. Marte and Jones each had three hits this afternoon, the latter also getting four RBI, while Walker got two hits and a walk.
Torey Lovullo is proud of the way the @Dbacks battled against a tough Nationals pitching staff in the series win.— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) August 4, 2019
Postgame press conference presented by @AutoNation pic.twitter.com/OgGt2siVSS
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Dom Perignon: Adam Jones, +62.0%
Moet & Chandon: Marte, +19.7%; Bradley, +14.8%; Ahmed, +10.6%
Mad Dog 20/20: Yoan Lopez, -13.0%
Buckfast Tonic Wine: Kelly, -12.0%; Hirano, -10.8%
Present in the Gameday Thread were: AzDbackfanInDc, DORRITO, DeadManG, EphBoston, GuruB, Jack Sommers, James Patrick Kim, Jim McLennan, Justin27, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Snake_Bitten, edbigghead, onedotfive and since_98. Comment of the thread, in a landslide, goes to Jack:
No kidding. That +62.0% is the second-best WP for a Diamondback this year, trailing only Jarrod Dyson’s +71.0%, when he walked off the Rangers with a two-run PH homer in the ninth on Apr 9. It was a good day for the D-backs, winning back-to-back games for the first time since July 16-17 in Texas. And just about everyone else near them in the standings lost. The D-backs got back to .500 and even are tied up with the Giants, for second place in the NL West [remember when they were surging? Here’s the wild-card standings for now:
The Phillies are next up, with a three-game series starting tomorrow night at Chase Field. Let’s sweep them, and make things interesting again! Merrill Kelly starts the opener, with first pitch at 6:40 pm tomorrow.