Record: 7-10. 162-game equivalent: 19-27. Change on 2019: -6
Generally, having your starter allow six earned runs and fail to get through four innings, isn't a recipe for success. But in Coors, that is close to a quality start. Arizona led from first pitch to last, though had some nervous moments, as ever in Denver.
In the preview, I talked about how the D-backs had been outscored 22-4 over innings 1-2. That ratio headed in the right direction in the top of the first. Kole Calhoun ambushed the opening pitch from Jon Grey, going the other way for his fourth home-run of the season (below). Ketel Marte followed with another hit, and two outs later, the doubles machine known as Christian Walker reached down to flip a pitch into left-field. That brought K-Marte home, making it 2-0 to the Diamondbacks.
UMMM.— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) August 11, 2020
First pitch of the game!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/Dnnw2EdmLH
The bottom of the first was a bit wobbly for Robbie Ray, though it could have been a lot worse. He gave up a solo home-run of his own, and Colorado put men on second and third with one out. But Ray got a pair of big strikeouts, around an intentional walk to Matt Kemp, leaving the bases loaded. It took 21 pitches, yet got his side back in the dugout, still with the lead. After a scoreless second on both ends, Arizona opened the third with four straight singles, from both Martes, David Peralta, and another Walker "go down and get it" hit. The last two each drove in a run for the D-backs, and a pair of groundouts then delivered third-inning tacos, as Arizona jumped out to a 5-1 lead.
It would have been nice if Ray had posted a shutdown inning. Not to be. A walk, a hit-and-run and a sacrifice fly to Nick Ahmed got the Rockies another run. The last is not something you see everyday, but he was heading towards the outfield when he caught it, and his foot slipped as he looked to plant for a throw home. Given the situation, I was happy to take the out, in the hope Ray could keep a crooked number off the board. That didn't happen either. A spiked curve allowed the runner on first an extra 90 feet. Despite an open base, Ray went after Matt Kemp this time, who blooped a full-count pitch into center for an RBI. Ray then got his fifth K to end the third, with the score 5-3. But Robbie's pitch-count was creeping up again, reaching 64 pitches.
Grey must have been having wild-card game flashbacks, as Arizona notched 11 hits through 3.1 innings. They’d had only one GAME with more hits previously. Though after the first, it was largely dinks and dunks for the D-backs. Ahmed and K-Marte singled around Calhoun getting hit on his back foot, to load the bases with nobody out. An RBI groundout scored one, then a Peralta single and an error brought two more in, and Grey was doing the "trudging despondently off the mound at Coors" thing we love to see from home pitchers. That was it for the Diamondbacks. Eduardo Escobar struck out to end the inning, but it was now 8-3 to the visitors. Or as we call it when you’re playing in Denver, "a decent start".
Ray got two quick outs in the bottom of the inning, before giving up a bunt single and his third walk of the night. Kevin Ginkel was warming, as Ray faced Charlie Blackmon, who was a staggering 16-for-25 against lefties like Robbie this year. Odd for a fourth inning at-bat with a five-run lead to feel so important, and the game ground to a halt in a series of pickings and time outs. Blackmon won the battle with an RBI single, and that was it for Ray. He allowed seven hits and three walks over 3.2 innings, with six strikeouts. Robbie needed 84 pitches for those 11 outs.
Ginkel took over, and surrendered an RBI single on the first pitch, then another RBI hit on an 0-2 count, as five consecutive Rockies reached with two outs. Ginkel finally closed the inning and the book on Ray (6 earned runs), Colorado having answered Arizona’s three-spot with one of their own. The D-backs were 8-6 up, and on pace to win 18-14... This frantic scoring pace, probably inevitably, couldn't quite be sustained once the starters left. Colorado did pull within one, on a solo home-run off the bat of someone called Chris Owings, about whom I know nothing. But there was no other scoring through the end of the sixth. We did get to see former Diamondbacks player mentor Daniel Bard pitch for Colorado - he had over seven years between major league outings, and it's quite a story.
Still trying to figure out how Hector Rondón pulled this play off. pic.twitter.com/HvxfGgFOK3— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 11, 2020
The offense finally returned for Arizona in the seventh, three runs set up by more little ball. Ahmed drove in one run with a ball that ate up Trevor Story, and Calhoun added two more with another opposite field drive that bounced off the wall. With the lead now extended to 11-7, Hector Rondon delivered just what we needed, with a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh. That was finished off with a great play by Rondon (above), on a swinging bunt by that Chris Owings guy. It took an appeal, but eventually became the final out. Peralta doubled to lead off the eighth, his fourth hit of the game. He was stranded on third, as the D-backs had their 20th, 21st and 22nd at-bats with runners in scoring position.
There were two more in the ninth, including K-Marte joining the Freight Train in the four-hit club with an RBI single. I can't remember the last time Arizona had 24 AB with RISP in a regulation game. Junior Guerra had followed Rondon, retiring the Rockies in order for the eighth, so the D-backs went to the bottom of the ninth with a 12-7 lead. But it's never EASY, is it? Andrew Chafin allowed three consecutive singles, loading the bases with no outs. It was now a save situation. Enter Archie Bradley, and guess who was the first batter he had to face, on his 28th birthday? Nemesis Matt Kemp: 9-for-18 lifetime versus Bradley.
But victory this time went to Archie. Kemp could only chop the ball to Escobar, who stepped on third, then fired over to first for a double-play. A run scored, but the Rockies were down to their final out. A failed check swing provided that, and the D-backs had posted a new high-score for the season, as Bradley became the first pitcher in franchise history, to get a save on their birthday. They had 18 hits in total, with four apiece for Peralta and K-Marte, plus three from Ahmed, who has got his season average up to .182. That’s 117 points above where it was eight days ago.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Match score: Nick Ahmed, +17.2%
Multi-ball: Calhoun, +13.2%; Bradley, +10.9%; Peralta, +10.2%
Tilt: Kevin Ginkel, -10.5%
Outhole: Robbie Ray, -10.3%
Just another Coors Field slugfest! Present in the Gameday Thread were: Augdogs, AzDbackfanInDc, ChuckJohnson56, DesertWeagle, GuruB, Hannibal4467, Hazzard21, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Preston Salisbury, Schilling2001, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, bklapes32, gzimmerm, kilnborn, onedotfive and since_98. Preston gets comment of the night for this bit of snark on Ray’s free-agent prospects.
We’ll be back tomorrow for... probably something along similar lines. It’s another 5:40 pm first pitch, with Zac Gallen starting for the D-backs. I just heard Jack asking questions on Torey’s post-game presser, but this has already gone quite long enough, I feel!