Record: 4-4. Pace: 81-81. Change on 2018: -2.
Opening Day at Chase Field is a time to shine, with a capacity crowd in attendance. The D-backs offense certainly got that memo, pounding Rick Porcello and the Boston pitchers. [The now 2-7 Red Sox have not had a worse start to their season since World War II ended] However, word of the festivities did not apparently reach the roof at Chase Field, which made a literally half-hearted attempt at opening, before failing, due to what the team said was an electrical fault. Despite my helpful suggestion that they should try turning it off and back on again, it instead remained closed for the rest of the contest.
After that, it proved a rather violent start to the game. The first inning alone saw Alex Avila get pinged, a Red Sox batter foul the ball off himself, Adam Jones reach on catcher’s interference and David Peralta follow that up by swatting the Boston catcher on the side of the mask with his follow through. [Maybe a good way to get him to stay further back behind the plate?] Fortunately, there seemed to be no permanent injuries as a result, and Zack Godley had his good form early, starting with two remarkably quick innings where he needed only 17 pitches to get the first six outs.
However, just as in Los Angeles, the scheduled Godley wobble arrived, like clockwork, in the third inning. A lead-off single was followed by two ground-ball outs, each moving the runner. But after a long, loud foul-ball, Godley couldn’t get the third out. Not for the first time this season, Peralta seemed to struggle with a fly-ball, getting all turned round before both it and he banged off the wall for an RBI double. Godley then allowed an infield hit to put runners on the corners, but was able to escape without further damage, except to his pitch-count.
Godley redeemed himself with a lead-off single in the bottom of the inning, and Jarrod Dyson then reached base on an infield squibber that two Red Sox players each failed to field. Eduardo Escobar walked, bringing up Peralta with the bases loaded and no outs, for his own shot at rapid redemption. It was not to be. While the tying run did score, Godley came across as Peralta hit firmly into a ground-ball double play. Jones walked to keep the inning alive, then undid his own work by getting picked off to end the third, leaving home fans with a very late 2018-esque feeling of unfulfilled disappointment in the D-backs offense.
There was a bigger meltdown in the fourth. Fortunately, it wasn’t by Godley, who worked a clean top of the inning. It belonged instead to Rick Porcello, who allowed five consecutive D-backs to reach, beginning with Ketel Marte’s second home-run of the season, a 443-foot no-doubter to right (above). After a Nick Ahmed double and Avila walk, Godley got his second hit of the game - this one a RBI bloop between three converging Red Sox which could not have been better placed if it has been guided in to the grass by laser targeting. Dyson followed with another RBI single, and though Eduardo Escobar still can’t hit, did get an RBI with a groundout, to deliver the first free home tacos of the season.
Our hitters were not done with Porcello, who was chased in the next inning. Adam Jones is now on pace for 81 home-runs this season, getting his fourth with a laser down the left-field line (below), and after a single by Ahmed, Avila made it 7-1 with a double, ending the night for the Red Sox pitcher, who didn’t find mush-room inside Chase Field. Oh, hang on: that’s Portobello. My mistake... Meanwhile Godley had been doing a solid job, getting through his first five innings with just the one run allowed, on three hits and - this is probably the best thing - no walks.
There was another wobble in the sixth, as with one out, he walked the next batter on four pitches, then uncorked a pair of wild pitches to move the runner to third. But Zack did a nice job of re-grouping, to get Mitch Moreland swinging over the top of a curve. After getting ahead of J.D. Martinez 0-2, Godley couldn’t finish him off, and ended up issuing another walk, bringing Mike Butcher from the mound. After some discussion, Godley was allowed to continue, but his third free pass of the inning loaded the bases and ended his night. Andrew Chafin took over, and I’ll confess to rather nervous, since there was nowhere to put his usual opening base-runner. But he got a groundball to end the threat.
That was also the end of the game as a meaningful contest, because the D-backs piled on with a seven-run sixth. This included a demonstration of what you should do with the bases loaded. After a Jones RBI double put runners on second and third, the Red Sox put Christian Walker on board and turned Marte around. It didn’t matter. Ketel hit his second home-run of the night and first career grand-slam (below). That merited a curtain-call out of the dugout for him, thanks to delivering a 12-1 lead to Arizona. Even Ildemaro Vargas then got in on the fun, hitting a two-run shot. I don’t even have room for the video, but if you’re counting at home, that’s four home-runs, sixteen hits and fourteen runs. In six innings.
They can probably therefore be excused for slacking off a bit over the last couple of frames, having more than done enough to send the local fans home thoroughly satisfied. Matt Koch came in for some positive mop-up work, and after a scoreless seventh, inevitably allowed a two-run homer and a two-run double in the eighth, as the Red Sox made the score at least somewhat more respectable. It was, however, only putting off the inevitable. We got to see a position player pitch the ninth - and I can certainly say, this is a lot more fun when it’s someone from the opposition, and you are winning the blow-out. Alex Avila homered with two outs, and that set a franchise record for most runs scored through eight games (56).
Koch came out for the eighth, and gave up three more runs while retiring one batter. His ERA for the season is now 18.41, thanks largely to six home-runs in 7.1 innings. He has literally not had a good outing this year. Matt became the first Arizona reliever ever to allow 3+ earned runs in each of his first three outings, and the first NL pitcher to do is since Joey Hamilton for the 2003 Reds. Yoan Lopez came on and got the last two outs, and we heard D-backs Swing for the first, hopefully of many times this season. Dyson and Ahmed had three hits apiece, with Peralta, Jones, Marte, Avila and Godley also enjoying a multi-hit night. I know I did. :)
[Click to enlarge, at Fangraphs.com]
The roof, the roof: Jarrod Dyson, +12.9%
The roof is on fire: Godley (pitching), +11.6%; Marte, +11.1%; Godley (hitting), +10.4%
We don't need no water: David Peralta, -9.4%
Well, I think I’ll be checking “Highly satisfied” on my customer survey for my first recap of the year. And, hey, we got the Roll Call tool, back just in time for the home opener! 851 comments from: AZDovs11, AZPerson, AzDbackfanInDc, BenSharp, CA_Yankee_Fan, DBacksEurope, DORRITO, DesertWeagle, Diamondhacks, EphBoston, Fangdango, GuruB, Hannibal4467, Imstillhungry95, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, LafferCap, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeDavisAZ, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, NikT77, SedonaRed24, ShirtOffYourBack, Xerostomia, asteroid, gamepass, kilnborn, onedotfive, ponus and rustynails77, with comment of the night to EphBoston:
On Saturday, Luke Weaver starts for the D-backs, with a more normal start time of 5:10pm. Somehow, tomorrow’s game has to try and live up to this one.