Sunday, July 27, 2014

Game of the Day (7/26/14)

Diamondbacks 10, Phillies 6 (10). Arizona started Josh Collmenter, who has returned to the rotation this year after a couple seasons of partial or full-time bullpen duty. Philadelphia countered with Cliff Lee, who hasn't pitched out of the bullpen since turning into one of the best pitchers in baseball seven years ago.

Despite the imbalance of the pitching matchup, the Diamondbacks scored first. Aaron Hill led off the game with a single, and Martin Prado walked behind him. Lee retired Paul Goldschmidt, but Mark Trumbo singled Hill in. Gerardo Parra would be plunked with two outs to load the bases before Tuffy Gosewich fouled out to end the inning.

Collmenter allowed a Jimmy Rollins double and a Chase Utley single in the bottom of the first, but struck out the other three Phillies who batted in the inning, leaving the runners at the corners. Lee obviated a Collmenter single with a Hill double play in the second, and the Phils struck in the bottom of the inning as Domonic Brown led off with a single and Cody Asche homered to take a 2-1 lead. The home team wasn't done there, either; Lee and Grady Sizemore singled, Rollins doubled Lee home, and Utley singled to drive in Sizemore and stretch the advantage to 4-1. Prado led off the top of the third with a homer, and Goldschmidt and Alfredo Marte both reached only to be left at the corners. The Phils replied again in the bottom of the third on a Marlon Byrd homer, a Carlos Ruiz double, and a Lee RBI single that made it a 6-2 game and chased Collmenter in favor of Eury de la Rosa.

Nick Ahmed led off the fourth with a single and was sacrificed to second by de la Rosa, then scored on a two-out Prado single. Utley walked and Ryan Howard singled in the bottom of the inning, but de la Rosa stranded them. Trumbo and Parra both singled in the fifth, but Lee left them at the corners; de la Rosa also worked out of trouble, starting with a Ruiz double. Asche's groundout moved the runner to third, and pinch hitter Darin Ruf was hit by a pitch. Sizemore then grounded to first, getting Ruiz thrown out at home, and a Rollins strikeout ended the inning.

Justin de Fratus relieved Lee in the sixth and quickly got into trouble. Pinch hitter Ender Inciarte led off with a double, Hill was hit by a pitch, and Prado doubled them both home to pull Arizona within a run. Prado made it to third, but de Fratus struck out Trumbo and Marte to leave him there. Oliver Perez worked around a Howard single in the bottom of the sixth, and the Diamondbacks completed the comeback against Mario Hollands in the seventh on singles by Parra and Gosewich, a bunt by Ahmed, and an RBI groundout by Inciarte. Ken Giles relieved and stranded the go-ahead run at third.

Matt Stites was perfect in the bottom of the seventh, and Giles matched him in the top of the eighth. Brad Ziegler plunked Utley and walked Howard in the bottom of the eighth before Byrd hit into a force to strand them. Jonathan Papelbon threw a flawless ninth; Evan Marshall got into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the inning, allowing two hits and a walk, but Reid Brignac was caught stealing before Asche and Ben Revere reached, helping Marshall escape to force extra innings.

Antonio Bastardo took the mound in the tenth, and the Diamondbacks struck. Inciarte started the rally with a one-out single, and was doubled to third by Didi Gregorious. Prado followed with a go-ahead sacrifice fly. Goldschmidt was intentionally walked to put runners at the corners, and pinch hitter Nick Evans launched a three-run homer that made the lead considerably more secure. Addison Reed allowed an Utley double in the bottom of the inning, but finished off the game with the 10-6 score unchanged.

As you'd expect in a game with a 10-6 final score, there was a large amount of hitting. The Phillies were led by Chase Utley's continuation of yet another excellent season, as he went 3 for 4 with a double, a walk, an HBP, and an RBI. The home team also had a good hitting day from Cliff Lee, who went 2 for 2, scored one run and drove in another. Arizona got an impressive response from Martin Prado, who matched Utley's 3 for 4, but with a double, a homer, and 5 RBI; Prado's efforts earned him +.470 WPA, one of the five highest totals of his career. The Diamondbacks also got the pinch 3-run homer from Nick Evans, who is making his return to the majors after a two-year absence and already has a pair of homers in 22 at bats.

But the story of the game was actually in the pitching. Arizona starter Josh Collmenter lasted only 2.2 innings and allowed 6 runs before being pulled. His relief corps fared rather better: 7.1 innings, 6 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts, and most importantly, no runs allowed. It wasn't a dominant performance (certainly not by 2014's strikeout-happy standards), but it was exactly effective enough to give the lineup a chance to come back and win the game - a rare result indeed after such a disastrous beginning.

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