Record: 6-1. Pace: 139-23. Change on 2016: +4.
The D-backs came into this game batting a collective .322, and hitting .431 with runners in scoring position. Let’s be clear: that’s utterly unsustainable. But this afternoon’s victory proved that they can win in other ways as well: here, they it was clutch pitching, rather than hitting, that allowed them to complete the sweep over the American League champion Cleveland Indians. They’re a good side: for context, they haven’t lost more than three in a row since July 2015. So do not underestimate the significance of this trilogy of victories.
It was certainly a very different Patrick Corbin we saw on the mound today, compared to the one who bombed unimpressively in the second game of the year against the San Francisco Giants. Interestingly, his slider was notable by its absence the first couple of times through the order, being largely replaced by his change-up. And it was a much more effective and efficient Corbin, who allowed one base-runner over the first three innings, in part because he seemed to be getting ahead in the count, rather than playing catch-up. That’s two starters, who both looked a lot better the second time around. Will Taijuan Walker continue this tomorrow in San Francisco?
The D-backs continued their usual pattern i.e. doing approximately jack the first time they see a pitcher. A Paul Goldschmidt single in the first was all they managed this afternoon. [If you’d told me before Opening Day, the team would score one run across the 21 innings of baseball which were innings 1-3 this week - I would certainly NOT have predicted a 6-1 record] But, as has become a certainty, alongside death, taxes and disappointing Hollywood adaptations of Japanese comics, they scored immediately thereafter. It was the result of some two-out magic, as hits from Jake Lamb, Chris Owings and an RBI single from Daniel Descalso gave Arizona the lead.
And not just a lead: for this was the first time the D-backs had scored the opening run in a game the entire season. [Again: given the team that scores first wins about 70% of the time, going 5-1 through last night’s game is another remarkable feat] Would this cause them to melt immediately into a puddle of BABIP? Apparently not. Lovullo pushed the pedal, and a double-steal forced an error from the Indians’ catcher, whos throw to third scurried past the third baseman, and Owings was able to amble home. He then added his first home-run of the season in the sixth, and Corbin was able to turn things over to the bullpen with a three-run lead.
Which is where things got interesting...
They say there’s always the chance of seeming something new at a baseball game. The top of the seventh inning proved that. Andrew Chafin came in - I must say, not quite sure why, since he faced exclusively right-handed batters - and got into trouble, as the result of single, wild pitch and walk. It then looked like he had a chance to get out of trouble, on a slowish ground ball to Paul Goldschmidt, who went to Owings to try and start a double-play. However, on the second leg, CO threw the ball wide of Chafin, who was covering first. Then the the fun began. Ever seen the same play require three video reviews? This one did:
- Review #1 (Cleveland). Did Owings tag the base at first? Answer: No, out overturned
- Review #2 (requested by Cleveland). Should the runner at second be awarded third base because of the wild throw? Answer: No, stays at second
- Review #3 (apparent umpire review, at request of Diamondbacks). Was the slide into second legal? Answer: Yes.
The net result was Owings charged with two errors on the same play, no outs, Cleveland on the board, and men on first and second. Archie Bradley entered, and there was a sacrifice bunt. The initial call at first was safe, but after the D-backs’ official review request, that was overturned for an out, but the tying run was now in scoring position. Bradley, undaunted, got a shallow infield pop-up, and a ground-ball that Brandon Drury just got to Goldschmidt for the out in time. It looked for a second like there was going to be another review there, but the Indians decline, and the D-backs escaped the inning, with the lead reduced to 3-1, but still there.
Thus began three extremely nervous final innings, which saw Cleveland get the tying run on base with no outs in the 7th, and at the plate with one out in the 8th and no outs in the 9th. Bradley looked solid in throwing two innings of relief, but opening the ninth with Fernando Rodney on the mound, Jake Lamb airmailed a throw way over Goldschmidt’s head. One out and an RBI single later, with the go-ahead run now at the plate, Carlos Santana crushed a Rodney offering to right, but David Peralta was able to haul the ball in, gazing up into the sun on the warning track. A K ended the game, and Arizona had won 5 in a row at Chase, something not managed in 2014, 2015 or 2016.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Traffic: Patrick Corbin, +35.5%
Pandorum: Bradley, +30.8%; Owings, +17.5%
The Day After Tomorrow: Andrew Chafin, -23.1%
I didn’t get to do the usual “Birthday pic” in the Gameday Thread, but the above is in reference to Dennis Quaid, who would have been the actor chosen. Another solid turnout in the GDT, thanks to AZSunDevilP, AzDbackfanInDc, FormerlyChelsea75, GuruB, I suppose I'm a Pessimist, Imstillhungry95, Jackwriter, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, JoeyLewis, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, Oldenschoole, Re Tired, Skii, Sprankton, Xerostomia, aldma, alphadrew88, david.munter, ford.williams.10, gametime111, hotclaws, leo7630, makattack71, noblevillain, onedotfive, repre, shoewizard, since_98, smartplays and thunderpumpkin87.
Comment of the thread to hotclaws, for one which probably requires some context, but is bizarre enough to succeed on its own!
The D-backs finish the opening homestand with the best record in baseball. No-one could have seen that coming, but let’s enjoy it while we can. Now, it’s off through California for a ten-game road-trip, which starts tomorrow in San Francisco. Note: it’s a day game, being the Giants’ home opener. So I don’t want anyone showing up here at 7pm tomorrow night, wondering where the Gameday Thread is! Taijuan Walker takes on Matt Moore there.