The Diamondbacks on Wednesday night in Chase Field defeated the Rockies by a score of 11-8 (box score) in the NL Wild Card Game and in doing so advanced the NLDS, where they will face the Dodgers. The Rockies, meantime, saw their 2017 season end. Here's what you need to know about this one ...
Jon Gray had one of the worst starts of his career
The young right-hander had been pretty lights out since returning from a foot injury earlier this season. On Wednesday, however, he authored an untimely stinker ...
That's the shortest outing of his career. Back in August 2015, he lasted 1 2/3 innings against the Mets, which is the only other time he didn't make it out of the second inning. As the line above suggests, it wasn't merely aggressive "bullpenning" on the part of Colorado manager Bud Black. Gray was getting hit hard, in part because he was leaving pitches up.
In terms of Game Score, which is a quick-and-dirty Bill James metric that measures a pitcher's dominance or lack thereof in a given start (50 is average and anything 90 or higher is an absolute gem), Gray registered a measly 18 in this game. Only four times has he put up a lower Game Score than that.
Gray's a high-ceiling starter who's probably going to have a very nifty career ahead of him. Tuesday night wasn't kind to him, though.
Zack Greinke wasn't much better
For a while, Greinke was cruising against the Rox. For instance, check out this Uncle Charlie to no less a hitter than Nolan Arenado ...
Zack Greinke's slow curveball in slow(er) motion pic.twitter.com/PbCIOXtDHp— Pitcher List (@ThePitcherList) October 5, 2017
Greinke also had the changeup working and didn't allow a hit until the third. In the fourth, though, Greinke's frame went: single, fielder's choice, single, single, ground-out, double, single. After allowing four runs and letting the Rockies back in the game, Greinke was lifted for Andrew Chafin. In the end, Greinke allowed four runs -- all earned -- on six hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out only one batter.
As well, Greinke's suboptimal outing continued a 2017 postseason mini-trend ...
The four starting pitchers in the wild card games went a combined 7 1/3 innings. That is insane.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 5, 2017
Note that Greinke pitched the majority of those 7 1/3 innings. Presumably, the Division Series round will be us more palatable starting. At least relief pitchers on playoff rosters had better hope so.
Greinke's short night pressed Robbie Ray into duty
Ideally for Arizona, Greinke goes deep, and then manager Torey Lovullo hands it over to Archie Bradley and Fernando Rodney. As noted above, though, that didn't come close to happening. Instead, Robbie Ray, who on a rate basis has been Arizona's best starter this season, worked two innings of relief and threw 27 pitches along the way. The plan had been to start Ray in Game 1 of the NLDS, but now that almost certainly won't happen. Maybe Ray goes in Game 2, which would allow him to pitch a potential Game 5 on full rest. However, it's not certain the D-Backs will go that direction. If nothing else, Greinke's uncharacteristic outing complicated how the D-Backs will line it up in the NLDS.
Paul Goldschmidt defied recent history with his first-inning home run
When Goldschmidt stepped in against Jon Gray with runners on the corners and no outs, things hadn't been going particularly well for him of late ...
And then, well, this happened ...
That 384-foot spank put the D-Backs up 3-0 and bumped their chances of winning the NL Wild Card Game all the way to 79.8 percent. Consider that the biggest hit of the year for an NL MVP candidate.
Ketel Marte made a little history
The hasty Marte on Tuesday slashed a pair of triples and in doing so became the first player to hit two three-baggers in a postseason game since Mariano Duncan back in 1993. But wait: That's not all ...
Ketel Marte is the first player in playoff history with a triple from each side of the plate in the same game.— Zachary Kram (@zachkram) October 5, 2017
History hath been made!
Marte's been a useful player for the D-Backs this season, especially in light of Chris Owings' injury problems. That was definitely the case in this do-or-die contest.
Speaking of history-making triples ...
Snakes reliever Archie Bradley came into this one with a career line of .098/.097/.098 in 66 trips to the plate. A hitter he is not. On Tuesday night, however, a hitter he was ...
And that brings us to #TripleHistory ...
Archie Bradley is the first relief pitcher in baseball history to triple in a postseason game.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 5, 2017
Night Of Triples, people., so he wound up making his own triple even more important.
Are we done talking about triples? No, we're not. A.J. Pollock got in on the act in the bottom of the eighth ...
Teams with 4+ triples in a postseason game:— Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) October 5, 2017
1903 Americans (Game 5 WS)
1903 Americans (Game 7 WS)
2017 Diamondbacks (WC)
1903 was first WS
Night. Of. Triples.
Strike two to Jonathan Lucroy was a big call
In the top of the eighth with the potential tying run in scoring position, Bradley threw a 1-1 fastball to Jonathan Lucroy and tried to paint the outer half. He missed, but ...
... Plate ump Jim Reynolds called it a strike. In essence, that call flipped a 2-1 count into a 1-2 count. Hitters this season had a paltry .414 OPS on 1-2 counts but a .964 OPS on 2-1 pitches. That's a huge difference, obviously. Did it change the tenor of the at-bat? Lucroy wound up flying out to deep right, so quite possibly.
Unfortunately for purposes of righteous outrage, the D-Backs put three runs on the board in the bottom of the eighth and made that call quite a bit less critical.
The D-Backs will move on to face the Dodgers
After beating the Rockies, the Diamondbacks will now advance to the NLDS to face the powerhouse Dodgers. That series gets started on Friday in Los Angeles. Of note: During the regular season, the Diamondbacks went 11-8 against the Dodgers and outscored them 99-71 in those games.
Thus far the NL West has delivered the best action of the postseason, so perhaps more to come.