In a battle between a pitcher who was born four years into the career of the man he was dueling with on the mound, the Colorado Rockies prevailed, winning 6-1 over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Jamie Moyer, the 49-year old lefty who has defined the word “crafty” in his career, pitched 6 1/3 innings of one run ball, and his bullpen took care of the rest. Patrick Corbin pitched six innings as well, but coughed up six runs in a losing effort.
The Diamondbacks had come into this game full of hope after an excellent showing against the division leading Dodgers the night before in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for them, their bats seem to have been left at LAX, and they looked lost against Moyer. Granted, it isn’t easy to adjust to a guy whose fastball is five MPH slower than the second slowest fastball in the game, which belongs to Mets knuckleballer RA Dickey (who the D’Backs also struggled against), but they weren’t making good contact against him regardless.
In addition, they followed up a night that saw them hit six straight singles to plate three runs in an inning with an abysmal performance with runners in scoring position. Long considered to be their Achilles heel, the Diamondbacks were 1-for-10 in the game with runners on second and third, and their only production in that situation came in the seventh when pinch-hitter Cody Ransom chased Moyer from the game with an RBI double. It was one of three doubles that the Diamondbacks managed against Moyer, but it wasn’t enough as they couldn’t cash in on any of those other opportunities.
One surprising move by manager Kirk Gibson came in the form of benching Willie Bloomquist, who had gotten on base four times in the previous night’s victory. Normally, managers will opt for the hot hand, but this time, Gibson stuck with a strategy he had laid out earlier in the week and started John McDonald at shortstop instead. The move worked out, as McDonald scored on the Ransom double and went 2-for-4 in the contest.
Oddly enough, there was plenty to be optimistic about in the loss, and it starts with a couple of plays that showed they may really be turning things around from a fundamentals perspective. You had Aaron Hill swiping third in the top of the third inning, which gave the Diamondbacks a chance with a runner on third and one out to score him via the sacrifice fly. The play didn’t work out as neither batter following him could cash him in, but just to see him take that massive lead and take advantage of the complete lack of regard that Moyer showed him was a good sight, and shows that Gibson and his staff are really getting into the guys’ heads about playing good baseball.
Another instance of smart play had come an inning earlier, when McDonald took advantage of an infield likely lulled to sleep by their deliberately-working pitcher and laid down a picture perfect bunt for a base hit. The old baseball adage when describing a quality bunt is that a guy couldn’t have rolled it out there any better, and that definitely applied to the deft touch John showed in this instance.
Finally, you had the performance of the two guys who came out of the bullpen for Arizona. Mike Zagurski and Brad Ziegler (known as the Killer Z’s in this column from now on) both pitched well in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. They both sent down the Rockies in order, throwing seven strikes out of 12 pitches apiece. Ziegler was even better because he prevented Dexter Fowler from coming to the plate with a chance to go for the cycle in the 8th inning, stranding him in the on-deck circle.
The negative side of the ledger was fairly thin, and it has to start with the performance of Mr. Corbin. The youngster has had an up-and-down go of things in his time in the big leagues, and Wednesday night was unfortunately one of those down moments. He had trouble locating his pitches after the first inning, and he only opened with a first pitch strike to 11 of the 28 batters he faced in the game. Getting behind guys in the count early on, especially on the road, can be a killer, and Corbin played with fire a few many times on the night.
The Diamondbacks will now try to salvage a split in the series when they send Trevor Cahill to the mound Thursday morning. First pitch is scheduled for 11:45am, and the game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona.
Minor League Update:
Chris Young will likely be headed to triple-A Reno tomorrow to continue his rehab work. Word has it that he could rejoin the team in Kansas City and hit in the DH spot against the Royals, but he has been playing center field on his rehab stint in high-A Visalia and has been ripping the cover off the ball. He had two doubles on Tuesday night, and then Wednesday he bopped a grand slam as well.
Considering that he is still tied for the team lead in home runs with Hill at five, and he’s been out for nearly a month, the Diamondbacks are going to be very excited to get him back in the fold.