Record: 9-3. Pace: 121.5 - 40.5. Change on 2017: +2.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were given a golden (pun intended) opportunity to secure their fourth consecutive series victory last night after a two out 9th inning home run from Paul Goldschmidt to tie the game, but the “B” bullpen was unable to prevent a Giants walk off.
Because of that, the Diamondbacks needed to win today’s rubber match in order to accomplish the aforementioned goal. Robbie Ray took the mound for his third start of the season against rookie left hander Andrew Suarez making the first start of his MLB career. Torey Lovullo was back in the dugout where he belongs after serving his one game suspension last night. Lovullo told Steve Berthiaume prior to today’s contest that he spent the suspension in a suite at AT&T Park with Assistant General Manager Amiel Sawdaye and was bored, but that he agreed with all the decisions of acting manager Jerry Narron. Bob Brenly threw out the ceremonial first pitch as part of the Giants’ 60th Anniversary in the city of San Francisco.
Umpire Scott Barry was behind the plate for the matinee game and continued the streak of a questionable strike zone that we have been subjected to the past few games. We could perhaps be more aware of this issue now that Fox Sports has included a box meant to represent the strike zone on their broadcast, so I have included the zone per Fangraphs from this game for you to be the judge.
Fairly inconsistent around the borders as you can see, but I suppose that is why we have the term borderline.
That worked to the advantage of Ray and Suarez in the early goings who were able to retire 17 of the first 18 batters in the game, 6 of them on strikeouts. Suarez tallied his first MLB strikeout in the 1st inning when he retired Paul Goldschmidt on a called third strike off of the plate. Hunter Pence was the first player to reach base in the game after drawing a base on balls to open up the bottom of the third. Bob Ray followed that by striking out Brandon Crawford. Suarez attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but placed it right at the charging third baseman Deven Marrero who was able to cut down Pence as the lead runner at second base. Austin Jackson followed with a left field Bermuda Triangle popup that Nick Ahmed was unable to track down which placed runners on the corners. Ray avoided any damage by striking out Joe Panik to end the inning. Ray needed 27 pitches to conclude the frame.
Ketel Marte reached base in the top of the 4th inning with a single up the middle bringing Goldy to the plate who was 3-for-9 in the series with a triple and a home run prior to that at bat. Paul promptly reintroduced Suarez to the league with a monster 109.6 MPH two run homer 436 feet to left center to give the Diamondbacks an early 2-0 lead.
Bob Ray was forced to dance out of trouble for a second consecutive inning in the bottom of the 4th this time working to a bases loaded jam. He was able to retire Andrew McCutchen quickly with a 3 pitch ground out, but a single from Buster Posey and double from Evan Longoria followed to put runners on second and third with only one out. Robbie struck out Nick Hundley, Ray’s fourth strikeout of the game, and walked Hunter Pence on four pitches to load the bases for Brandon Crawford. That proved to be a wise strategy because Ray was able to strikeout Crawford for the second time in the game preventing the Giants from scoring again, but by that time Robbie’s pitch count was in the upper 70’s.
John Ryan Murphy tacked on his second home run of the season, a solo shot, in the top of the 5th to extend the lead 3-0. Robbie opened up the bottom of the 5th with his sixth and final strikeout of the game because what followed would force him from the game. He walked Jackson on four straight pitches, and had to pitch to runners on the corners again after a Panik single. After a mound visit from catcher John Ryan Murphy, McCutchen worked an eight pitch fielder’s choice allowing Jackson to score and put the Giants on the board with their first run. Posey followed with a surprising two run home run off of a 1-1 curveball, Robbie’s best pitch in his repertoire. That would conclude Bob Ray’s day after throwing 100 pitches allowing 3 earned runs, 3 walks, 5 hits, and 6 strikeouts.
It did not take long for the Diamondbacks to retake the lead in the 6th. Marte doubled for his second hit of the game ending the outing for Suarez. Sam Dyson (vacuum pun incoming) entered in relief for the Giants to face Goldschmidt, and surrendered a 107 MPH double to him off of the wall in right center field (man, that sucks!). We all knew Goldy was going to begin making hard contact eventually, but boy how nice is it to see those sweet 105+ MPH hits coming off of his bat again? 4-3 good guys.
Fernando Salas and Jorge De La Rosa pitched a clean 6th inning to turn the game over to the triumvirate of Yoshi Hirano, Archie Bradley, and Brad Boxberger, but not before the Diamondbacks added an additional 3 insurance runs in the 7th. Murphy doubled home Marrero for his second RBI of the game, and was subsequently doubled in himself by Daniel Descalso. Marte registered the Diamondbacks seventh and final run of the game by singling in Descalso for his third hit of the game.
Quite surprising to not see T.J. McFarland pitch a few innings of relief, after warming up in the bullpen in the 6th, considering the Diamondbacks had the 4 run lead and the volume of appearances already for Hirano, Bradley, and Boxberger to date. Do not color that as a complaint, because those three men prevented the Giants from scoring and kept the end of this game less eventful than last evening’s contest.
The Diamondbacks are now 9-3 on the season, and have won their fourth series in a row to open the season, the first time that has been accomplished in franchise history. We have an off day tomorrow to travel to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers for a three game series and conclude this road trip.
☆☆☆: Paul Goldschmidt: 2-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI
☆☆: John Ryan Murphy: 2-for-3, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB
☆: Ketel Marte: 3-for-4, 2B, RBI, 2 Runs
Impressive attendance for a matinee game with 637 comments in the GDT. Present this afternoon as follows: AZDovs11, AzDbackfanInDc, AzRattler, BenSharp, CumulusChoir, DBacksEurope, DORRITO, DesertWeagle, Desert_Devil, Diamondhacks, Fangdango, GuruB, JTyson, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, Kantera, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, PaulGoldsmith, RAF2018336, Renin, Sean Testerman, SenSurround, SongBird, SonomaComa1999, TwinkieHoosier, asteroid, coldblueAZ, david.munter, dbrowell, hotclaws, kilnborn, megnetic, onedotfive, piratedan7, ryeandi, shoewizard, since_98, smartplays, suroeste, yutzamin
Sean Testerman takes CoTD with his GIF, might I add a bit of a spin on one of my Pit Your Wits entries last season.