Record: 72-58. Pace: 90-72. Change on 2016: +18.
The Diamondbacks won their fifth game in the last six at Chase Field tonight. But as has been the habit of late, it was another squeaker. Four of those five wins have been by just one run. But overall, our record in those one-run games is very close to our overall mark. That may be a surprise, since it has been a severe see-saw: early on, we had more one-run wins than just about any one else. Tere was then a spell - not least the series in Los Angeles, where all three games were one-run losses - where it seemed the team couldn’t buy a close game. But the pendulum has now swung back, and we over the series against the Mets and Giants, the D-backs have gone 4-0 in them.
We probably should not expect much more regression. For right now, our overall winning percentage is .554, while our record in one-run games is 24-19, which works out at .558. I’ll take a nice blow-out victory in tomorrow’s game. Give the back of the bullpen a nice work-out, and give Fernando Rodney in particular a day off. Tonight, there was no Archie Bradley, despite the high-leverage nature of the eighth inning. David Hernandez worked that, and did the job. But Rodney came in and notched his fifth save of the week, and his third one-run save on consecutive nights. As we watch Greg Holland melt down in Colorado, things could be a lot worse...
We need to crank things back though. This was a night where offense was at a premium, and clutch offense on both sides was entirely non-existent. The Giants and the Diamondbacks combined to go 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, all the scoring coming in the form of a trio of solo home-runs. Arizona provided the first, with A.J. Pollock getting into one which pinged off the facade at the back of the bleachers in left-center (above). It was his seventh of the year, but I’m still not comfortable with Pollock batting third. He’s hitting only .232 since his return, with an OBP around .300, though with Jake Lamb out of the line-up tonight, alternatives were limited.
Taijuan Walker was very impressive early on. He was perfect the first time through the San Francisco order, dialing up a lot of ground-balls which helped keep his pitch-count very low. Through three innings, he had thrown only 33 pitches, with six of those outs coming from the infield. After retiring 11 in a row, he fell behind Jarrett Parker 3-0, and one pitch later, the Giants had their first base-runner, as Parker circled the bags with the tying run. There was more trouble for Walker in the fifth: a lead-off single was followed by a perfect hit-and-run with one out, putting runners on the corners. But Walker got his first and second strikeouts to stop the Giants from scoring further.
The home team had already re-taken the lead by that point, however. That came courtesy of another solo blast, this one by J.D. Martinez. This one left the park quickly, rather than with his usual majestic distance, but it was still his 11th home-run as a Diamondback. That was the effective end of the Arizona offense for the night. While they had a lead-off single in the sixth, and a lead-off double by Brandon Drury in the seventh, neither base-runner was able to progress past that spot. Paul Goldschmidt just missed a two-run homer in the sixth, sending a towering fly-ball to the warning track in left, which seemed initially to have achieved escape velocity.
Ketel Marte was lifted at the start of the sixth inning with what the team officially described as hamstring tightness. Hopefully there’s nothing to that - we’re already stretched thin enough at the shortstop position, although Nick Ahmed should be coming back soon. Walker was solid enough through six, but there were indications the Giants were getting a better read, with some long at-bats, and he had to strand the tying run at this in the sixth. He recorded an out in the seventh inning for the first time since July 2, but that took a shoestring catch from A.J. Pollock, and Walker was clearly on a short leash.
After the next batter walked, Taijuan’s night was over, at 108 pitches. He held the Giants to four hits, one walk and three strikeouts [though all three K’s were in very big situations, each coming with the tying run on third-base]. Andrew Chafin came in, and immediately allowed a single, but recovered to get a pop-up, then struck out Bumgarner on three straight pitches. Bumgarner was not happy with the called strike three which ended his at-bat. He had a point. #RobotUmpsNow. Hernandez and Rodney extended the streak of batters retired by the bullpen to eight, needing just ten and nine pitches respectively
The victory means the D-backs have sealed consecutive series wins for the first time since beating the Rockies in Coors and the Phillies here, on June 26. Yeah, it has been a while. We finished the night with only five hits and one walk, no D-back reaching base more than once. Still, made for a crisp 2:34 game, tied for second-shortest this year at Chase. With just about everyone else we’re up against also winning (the Rockies, Cardinals and Cubs, with the Brewers leading in Los Angeles), it feels like it was important for the team to hold this one, especially against the Giants’ Opening Day starter. Here’s to completing the sweep tomorrow.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
The Heat: Rodney, +17.4%; Hernandez, +12.6%; Chafin, +10.3%
The Boss: David Peralta, -7.1%
Fun thread. We should do this more often. Where “this” = beat the Giants, of course. Thanks to those present, who were AzDbackfanInDc, BigSmarty, Cumulus Choir, DORRITO, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Imstillhungry95, Jackwriter, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, JoelPre, Justin27, Makakilo, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, SongBird, Sprankton, Xerostomia, asteroid, coldblueAZ, edbigghead, hotclaws, onedotfive, and smartplays. Comment of the threat to Justin27 for... Well, it probably needs context.
Chance at a sweep tomorrow, and it has been long enough since we’ve even reached the last game in a series with a CHANCE at that: June 18 in Philadelphia, in fact. With Patrick Corbin on the mound, got to feel hopeful.