Record: 77-69. Pace: 85-77. Change on 2017: -7.
I’ll tell you what bros. I had this narrative all tee’d up and ready to go tonight. I should have known better. Last night’s game and a few bits from ISH’s recap had me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. The Arizona Diamondbacks were 2 outs away from pulling within a game and a half in the standings for the division lead. The D’backs led the entire contest until the fateful blast off the bat of DJ LeMahieu in the bottom of the 9th because it was too good to be true.
It was remarkable that Arizona was not buried much sooner than that considering the following up until the bottom of the 9th:
D’backs: 4 H, 2 BB, 12 K, 3 XBH
Rockies: 11 H, 2 BB, 8 K, 5 XBH
I’d venture to argue a given team’s chances of winning a contest in Coors Field with a line difference that the D’backs had tonight against the Rockies is slim to none. Let’s cut the fluffy B.S. and get this recap over with, so I can get the heck out of here. How did we get to this point?
Patrick Corbin took the mound tonight opposite Jon “The Leprechaun” Gray. This was the first time Gray had faced Arizona since Opening Day this season and last year’s Wild Card game before then. Gray has struggled mightily with efficiency recently, and tonight was no different. In fact, Arizona drove his pitch count up to 94 through 4 innings pitched despite him needing only 12 to retire the side in order to begin the game.
Gray truly had to labor in the 2nd inning having to face a total of 6 batters, but he managed to escape that frame allowing only a single run. Paul Goldschmidt led off the inning with a 2 strike double down the right field line just over the first base bag. Daniel Descalso followed with a full count walk, and Steven Souza Jr. was able to load the bases reaching on a fielder’s choice. Souza hit a roller to Trevor Story at shortstop who tried to cut Goldy down at third, but Nolan Arenado missed the bag due to his momentum carrying him towards the visitor’s dugout.
That brought Nick Ahmed to the plate, and he was able to do something that I’ve seen D’backs hitters struggle with periodically throughout the season. One of my biggest pet peeves as a fan of the game is when there is a runner on third with less than two outs, and the batter at the plate fails to bring the run in. All it takes is a hit deep enough to the outfield for the runner to tag up and score. It’s probably an irrational annoyance of mine you’ll likely argue. Reasonable as it is considering how difficult it is to hit a baseball off of a Major League pitcher, but these are Major League hitters we’re talking about. Much to my relief, Ahmed made a productive out driving the ball deep enough to allow Goldy to tag and score giving Arizona an early 1-0 lead. Not to be overlooked, Descalso also advanced to third as well. It’s the little things that keep me content in this disaster that has been the past few weeks.
Alex Avila drew a full count walk following Ahemd’s sac fly to load the bases once again. Unfortunately for Arizona, Patrick Corbin was the next batter up and could only manage to ground into an inning ending double play. Perhaps it would have been a better decision to call for a sacrifice bunt in that situation?
Struggles continued for Gray in the top of the 3rd inning. He hit A.J. Pollock on the left wrist with a 94 MPH fastball to begin the frame. Fortunately Pollock wears quite a bit of armor at the plate including a sturdy wrist brace which absorbed much of the impact and allowed him to remain in the game. Eduardo Escobar earned retribution immediately following the hit by pitch with a two run home run to right center field to give Arizona a 3-0 lead. Arizona’s fourth and final hit of the game came in the next inning when Avila hit a one out solo home run to center field. Gray’s night was finished at the conclusion of the 4th inning with the D’backs leading 4-2. That would set up some history to be discussed later in this recap.
Corbin’s outing was not as remarkable as others this season as he scattered 10 hits through 6 & 1⁄3 innings, but he was effective at limiting damage in a hostile environment. 5 of the 10 hits he allowed went for extra bases, so it was admirable that he held the Rockies to only 3 runs while he was on the mound. Patrick first ran into danger in the bottom of the 3rd. Gray hit a lead off double, and after Charlie Blackmon struck out to follow, DJ LeMahieu advanced Gray to third on a slow rolling infield single placing runners on the corners with only a single out. Nolan Arenado then hit his second double of the game scoring Gray to put Colorado on the board and push LeMahieu to third. Corbin was able to strike Trevor Story out for the second out of the inning, but a wild pitch with Matt Holliday batting brought in LeMahieu to cut the lead down to 2 runs.
Corbin had to tap dance out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the 4th inning. He got the first 2 outs of the inning on only 3 pitches, sandwiching a single from David Dahl in between. Tom Murphy and Blackmon also singled, respectively, on an additional 3 pitches from Patrick to load the bases with two outs, but Corbin remained poised and struck out LeMahieu to prevent further scoring for Colorado. Arenado knocked his third extra base hit of the game in the bottom of the 5th, and was truly quite lucky to do so. Corbin threw a 2-2 slider in a great location down near Nolan’s ankles, but Arenado dropped the bat head and golfed the pitch out to center field bringing Colorado within a single run of tying the game.
That 4-3 score held until the bottom of the 9th. Rockies relievers Chris Rusin, Scott Oberg, and Wade Davis combined for 5 perfect innings, a club record according to the Rockies. I’ll just sit down, sulk, and choke down my humble pie after roasting the Rockies bullpen earlier in the season. It speaks volumes as to just how atrocious the Arizona offense has been this season to be held completely off the bases for five innings in Coors Field.
It was too good to be true my friends. The Diamondbacks would not hold on for a 1 run win despite being out hit by the Rockies. You just can’t shut down completely on the offensive side of the ball for half of the game and expect to pull out a 1 run victory considering how shaky Arizona’s bullpen has been over the past month. Brad Ziegler faced 5 batters and allowed only 1 hit. Andrew Chafin walked the only batter he faced (seriously, just go away dude). Archie Bradley only faced Carlos Gonzalez and sat him down without much affair. That set Yoshihisa Hirano up for his second career MLB save after earning his first last night. Gerardo Parra clanked a lead off single off of Goldy’s glove in a pinch hit appearance in the bottom of the 9th. Blackmon pushed him to second with a sacrifice bunt. DJ LeMahieu stepped up to the plate with the tying run at second base and only a single out. With one swift swing of the bat, he drove a 1-1 fastball in an absolutely horrendous location over the right field wall securing a walk off victory for the Rockies.
This loss felt like a blow to the gut. It sucked the wind right out of my lungs, so I can only imagine how the D’backs clubhouse felt. That one at bat meant that instead of only being 1.5 games back in the division standings Arizona is now 3.5 back. There is still plenty of time left, lets not kid ourselves, but this team has absolutely no time to continue to crap the bed before it is too late.
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