Record: 73-60. Pace: 89-73. Change on 2017: -2.
The offense has been sputtering as of late for the Arizona Diamondbacks. They had been shut out for two consecutive contests before tonight and held scoreless over their previous 23 innings. Scoring was difficult to come by tonight as well, but the team managed just enough to come away with a victory. In fact, the scoreless inning streak would extend out to 25 innings before it was put to rest. We have Steven Souza Jr. to thank for that, and the entire victory for that matter.
Dereck Rodriguez, son of Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, took the mound for the San Francisco Giants. He held the Diamondbacks hitless until the top of the 3rd inning. Souza made his first start of the season batting lead off tonight. When his number came up in the top of the 3rd, he decided it was time to put an end to the madness. Souza drove the count full against Rodriguez before driving the fifth fastball of the at bat over the wall in left field for a solo shot.
Arizona would add to that total in the next frame. Ketel Marte opened the inning with a bloop double. It was a low looping popup that landed near the foul line in left field. Rather than put his head down and jog to first base, Marte did not assume it would be caught and busted it down to second for an easy double. That proved to be pivotal because Nick Ahmed followed with a less than hard hit single up the middle enabling Marte to score. Zack Godley moved Ahmed to second base with a sacrifice bunt bringing Souza to the plate with two outs. Souza laced another liner to left field, this time a double, scoring Arizona’s third and final run of the game. At that point, they had scored as many runs as the Giants in the series despite being shutout in the first two games. Timing is key, folks.
Fortunately for the good guys, that was all of the run support Zack Godley needed tonight for he pitched one of his better performances of the 2018 season. Godley was efficient, throwing only 94 pitches over 7 & 2⁄3 innings, although he did lose the handle a few times. He hit 3 batters tonight, the most he has ever had in a single game during his career, but allowed only 3 other Giants to reach base beyond that.
As always, the defense behind him deserves their fair share of credit for making a handful of stellar defensive plays. The infield turned 2 double plays behind him tonight, one of the traditional variety and the other on a liner straight to Nick Ahmed catching Nick Hundley in no man’s land between first and second. Ahmed also had a highlight moment on a carom off the glove of Daniel Descalso who was filling in at third base for Eduardo Escobar.
However, the true star of the show tonight was without a doubt Steven Souza Jr. Not only was he responsible for 2 of the D’backs 3 runs tonight, he also made a pair of web gems in the outfield. Not showing you the highlights would be nothing short of a crime.
The play above might give Jarrod Dyson a run for Defensive Play of the Year. Souza covered 112 feet with a sprint speed of 28.7 feet per second to make the diving catch. Statcast had the catch probability at 32%, but that’s a little generous in my opinion. His strong play would not end there.
We saw Andrew McCutchen whiff on a similar play to this earlier in the series which resulted in a triple. It might appear to be simple, but note that the ball is coming directly at Steven and sinking quickly. These two defensive gems, as well as his play at the plate tonight, easily make him the star of this game.
The only time Arizona was in any real danger was in the 8th inning. Zack Godley quickly recorded the first two outs of the inning, but had to be lifted after allowing a single and base on balls to Gorkys Hernandez and Hunter Pence, respectively. Archie Bradley came on in relief and allowed 1 of the inherited runners to score, but the bullpen was stingy after that for the final 4 outs.
The 3-1 victory puts Arizona back in sole possession of first place in the National League West by a half game over the Colorado Rockies, and a full game over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Arizona now heads to Los Angeles for a pivotal 4 game series against the Dodgers. It is the first time the two have faced each other since the beginning of May. We can thank the intern in charge of scheduling this season for that.
Three Stars: Steven Souza Jr. +17.3% WPA, 2 web gems, 2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI
Two Stars: Zack Godley +35.8% WPA, 7.2 IP, 2 H, 1BB, 1ER, 3 HBP, 6K
One Star: Nick Ahmed +3.7% WPA, 1-for-4, RBI
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