Record: 37-30. Pace: 89-73. Change on 2017: -4.
Wednesdays have made a turn for the worst this season for the Arizona Diamondbacks. They won the first two that they played on that day, but since then have lost nine straight. Of course, that is a completely arbitrary split and means absolutely nothing to the vast majority of you, but seeing that I recap that day, when work allows, I pay attention to it more than I should.
I spent the first five innings hanging out with my neighbor, and high home cameraman, Ralph Kelso. Yes, we chatted a bit about UFO’s, shoewizard. Ralph showed me that we have some activity in our neck of the woods. Thank you Ralph for letting me to crowd your workspace today allowing me to get a behind the scenes look at your craft. For those of you who didn’t catch the article a few weeks ago, he’s been at the job for 20 years and is as sharp as anyone I’ve ever seen at his profession. I also learned that his particular camera cost more than my home, at least when I purchased it, so that’s cool.
An impressive 32,803 were on hand for the matinee start to see Zack Greinke square off on the mound against former 2nd overall draft pick Jameson Taillon. Arizona was able to get off to a quick start against Taillon in the first inning. Jon Jay legged out an infield single leading off the bottom of the first for Arizona. Paul Goldschmidt followed with an 11-pitch at bat, but was unable to get on base or move Jay over. David Peralta came to the plate with two outs after a fly out from Jake Lamb and quickly fell behind 0-2. He drove the third pitch of the at bat to the left field warning track that the humidor desperately tried to keep in the ballpark. Austin Meadows had a glove on it, but the ball ricocheted off of him over the wall giving Arizona an early 2-0 lead.
Should be enough with Greinke on the mound at home against the lowly Pirates, right? Wrong. He had not given up more than two earned runs in a start at Chase Field this season, but today would not be as smooth. He breezed through the first inning with no trouble retiring the first three batters on eleven pitches, earning two strikeouts in the process. The second inning was far from as casual because he failed to retire the next five batters he faced. The Pirates went single, walk, double, walk, double before Greinke recorded his first out of the inning. Greinke nearly struck out the second batter of the inning, Francisco Cervelli, on three straight strikes, but home plate umpire Ryan Blankey wasn’t feeling the third pitch of the at bat. It was borderline at the bottom of the zone, and that allowed Cervelli work his way all the way back in the at bat until he drew a walk. The Pirates scratched across four runs in the inning turning the tables quickly and putting the sweep in jeopardy.
Jameson Taillon settled in and shut down the recently red hot offense, but not before Arizona tried to make some noise in their half of the second. Singles from Nick Ahmed and Zack Greinke paired with a Jon Jay walk loaded the bases for National League Player of the Week Paul Goldschmidt. It was a “golden” opportunity with two outs in the inning to put pressure back on Pittsburgh, but Goldy couldn’t catch up to a 95 mph heater on the lower-outer third ending the inning. From that point forward, Taillon would only allow two more hits, singles to Ketel Marte and Goldy, and a walk.
Greinke’s only other blemish after the second was a two out solo shot allowed to Jordy Mercer giving the Pirates a 5-2 lead. His elevated pitch count had him run from the game in the fifth inning. Greinke set down the first two of that inning in order, but followed that by surrendering a double to Starling Marte and walks to Colin Moran and Francisco Cervelli. T.J. McFarland took the call in long relief and was rock solid, as he has been all season, escaping the bases loaded jam by striking out Josh Bell. It’s difficult for him to be thrown in these situations tasked with keeping a game from spiraling out of control in the middle innings, but he has done an admirable job so far. He went 2 1⁄3 scoreless allowing only two baserunners, and four of his seven outs recorded came by the way of a strikeout.
Pittsburgh carried the 5-2 lead into the 9th inning for hard throwing closer Felipe Vasquez. He had four blown save opportunities in fifteen chances, and nearly let Arizona walk off with a sweep today. Marte got it started with a single, and Chris Owings drew a walk in his pinch hit appearance bringing the tying run to the plate with no outs. Nick Ahmed reached on a fielders choice, Jeff Mathis struck out, and John Ryan Murphy drew a walk as a pinch hitter to load the bases with two outs but still no runs scored. That changed when Jon Jay hit a liner down to left field allowing Owings and Ahmed to score bringing the game within one run. Clint Hurdle wisely elected to intentionally walk Pauly G to load the bases.
Queue Jake Lamb to face off against a hard throwing lefty reliever. Torey Lovullo only had 2018 team MVP Daniel Descalso available off the bench to pinch hit, but decided to roll the dice with Lamb. About as sure the sun rising in the morning, Lamb struck out to end the rally and the game. It was a head scratching decision in my opinion. As shoewizard cited in the post game comments, Jake Lamb has the lowest OPS of any left handed batter against same handed pitchers with at least 350 plate appearances since 2015. I mean worst hitter against left handed pitchers over the past four seasons versus the guy who consistently comes through in clutch situations? I guess we’ll never know, but I know what my decision would have been. That’s why I’m sitting in the stands drinking beer and recapping on my couch afterwards instead of hanging in the dugout!
Three stars: Jon Jay +16.3%
Two stars: David Peralta +11.5%, Chris Owings 11.1%, T.J. McFarland 9.9%
Zero stars: Zack Greinke -29.4%, Alex Avila -10.3% (almost forget to mention his obligatory rally killing pinch hit double play)
Total comments: 461
Total commenters: 28
Commenter list: AzDbackfanInDc, BigSmarty, BobDolio, DBacksEurope, DesertWeagle, FishOnEmm, GuruB, IAPiratesFan, Jackwriter, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Justin27, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, asteroid, coldblueAZ, david.munter, frienetic, gamepass, hotclaws, lildbackfan21x, piratedan7, shoewizard, smartplays, suroeste
I think we can all collectively breathe again now that the Pirates have left town having not injured any of our players with a bean ball.