Record: 24-34. 162-game equivalent: 65-92. Change on 2019: -15.
The Diamondbacks have been looking a little better at the end of the season. After reaching a low of 15-29 on September 9, the sweep of this double-header improved their record since to 9-5, with 18 more runs scored than allowed over that time. Part of that is, admittedly, the lower quality of opposition. Of their final 15 games, the Astros (29‐28) are the only side they will have faced with a winning record. But I'll take beating crappy opponents over losing to them, any day.
However, the shutout of the first game was not to be replicated, with the team instead riding an offensive outburst to their most runs scored by them in a game since August 12. The zero here lasted just one out, in fact, as the Rockies then got a double followed by an RBI single. But Taylor Clarke picked a runner off first to help prevent further damage. And the Diamondbacks rebounded immediately, taking the lead back without recording an out, on David Peralta's 2-RBI single (below), as their first five hitters reached.
But, wait! There's more! Nick Ahmed then added an RBI groundout, and Stephen Vogt an RBI single. This prompted action in the Colorado bullpen... with one out in the first inning. Of course, the .093 hitting Jon Jay struck out, but Tim Locastro drove in two more with his second hit of the inning. The knock chased the Colorado pitcher, who failed to get through an inning in his first major-league start, as Arizona took a 6-1 lead.
That didn't last either. With two outs, Clarke walked Colorado's #9 hitter, then ended Raimel Tapia's streak of 88 consecutive plate-appearances without a walk, to load the bases with two outs. Kevin Pillar then emptied them with his second double in two innings, making it 6-4. We reached the one-hour mark with no outs in the bottom of the second, and a real shot at the MLB record for the longest seven-inning game in baseball history (3:24, set by the Angels and Astros on August 25 this year).
Any concern was dampened, after Arizona restored the 5-run margin in the third inning. Jay singled, and Locastro (batting for the third consecutive inning) did what Locastro does, being hit by a pitch. Josh VanMeter then swatted his second homer as a Diamondback (above), a three-run shot, which made the score 9-4. A wild pitch in the fourth brought Arizona into double digits, and meanwhile, Clarke settled down. He ended up going five innings, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks, with five strikeouts.
Pavin Smith went one better than VanMeter, hitting his first homer as a Diamondback (below) with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. I was amused to see a team employee crawling under the advertising tarps in right-field, to retrieve the ball. I trust that will be reflected on his year-end appraisal. I was also amused - in a bleaker way - to hear Bob Brenly's discussion of the Arizona bullpen's 11 inning scoreless streak, be abruptly interrupted by Travis Bergen giving up a solo homer on his very first pitch in the top of the sixth.
But Bergen prevented any further scoring the rest of the way, and the Diamondbacks retained their perfect record in double-headers at Chase Field, where they are now 6-0. Locastro led the offense from the top of the order, getting on-base all five times he was up, on three hits, a walk and a HBP. Small sample size, but his OPS for the season is .848; 39 points above Christian Walker, and 67 better than Starling Marte for the year. There’s a case to be made that he should be considered for an everyday role as center-fielder next year. Peralta got three hits, and even Jay reached three times, with two hits and a walk, getting his average up to .130.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
The Mothra twins: Josh VanMeter, +19.1%
Robin and Maurice Gibb: Peralta, +15.9%; Locastro, +15.0%
The Kray twins: Taylor Clarke, -9.9%
Present in the Gameday Thread were: AzDbackfanInDc, ChuckJohnson56, Diamondhacks, EdTheRed99, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Preston Salisbury, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, gzimmerm, kilnborn and since_98. Nothing turned Sedona Red, but let’s face it, it has been a long day, and people were probably too tired to click the REC button. Still, a thoroughly satisfying way to finish off my full game recapping for the season, leaving me almost hungry for more. If there’d been a few more games like that, we’d not be going home after Sunday’s contest.
Still, if Arizona can take the next two games, from a Colorado outfit who look largely to be more interested in next week’s tee times, then the D-backs will overtake the Rockies and avoid a last-place finish, something they haven’t had since 2014. There’s something to be said for that. Luke Weaver starts for Arizona tomorrow, with a 5:10 pm first pitch.