It’s one game of 162, so in no way does Sunday’s thrilling come-from-behind win in the opener against Madison Bumgarner and the Giants define a season. But we all have to admit that it was a heck of a lot better start before a sold out crowd than last season.
Let’s not forget last year in the season opener Zack Greinke got rocked — gave up 7 runs on 9 hits for his worst outing in four years. He hadn’t allowed that many runs in a game since May 26, 2012. He also allowed three home runs for the first time since August of 2009. The Diamondbacks lost that opening series to the Rockies then lost three-of-four to the Cubs, then lost a series to the Dodgers to fall to 3-7. It was a bad start to the season, one they never really recovered from.
This year’s opener had a different feel to it with a new front office, new manager and some new players, but expectations were nonetheless very low for a team that won just 69 games last season and didn’t overhaul their roster. And for five innings Sunday, the script seemed similar, with the Giants taking a 3-0 lead and Bumgarner, who hit two home runs in the game, not allowing a base runner.
At times Sunday, 2017 looked like 2016. A terrible defensive play by Yasmany Tomas, an awful bullpen, a few wild pitches and just five innings out of their starter. But the D-backs were resilient. They battled back from down 3-0 to tie the score with a three-run sixth that included a pinch-hit RBI single from light-hitting shortstop Nick Ahmed and a two-run home run from A.J. Pollock.
Greinke, who threw 24 pitches in the first inning, was actually pretty good. He was out after the fifth inning after giving up two runs on four hits on 92 pitches. His fastball velocity was back in the low 90s and, outside of the 91 mph fastball that Bumgarner took out of the park on a 1-2 pitch in the fifth, Greinke didn’t make any big mistakes and kept his team in the game.
While it would be nice for Greinke to win 18-20 games and justify that $206.5 million dollar contract, it is actually just as important for the Diamondbacks to win the games he pitches in. And despite a no-decision Sunday, Arizona did win the game and that is a major plus.
The bullpen did everything it could to give the game away with Tom Wilhelmsen, Andrew Chafin and Fernando Rodney each giving up a run in their one inning of work. But Rodney did get out of a bases loaded, one-out jam to keep it a one-run game, and the Diamondbacks’ two-out rally with none on in the bottom of the 9th was a thing of beauty with four straight hits off the Giants’ new closer, Mark Melancon. The rally included a tying pinch-hit single by newcomer Daniel Descalso and the game-winner by Chris Owings.
Sure it’s one game, but most of that sold-out crowd walked away feeling really good about their team. And getting that first one out of the way had to feel awfully good, and the way they won it certainly helps build camaraderie.
So sure, there are 161 games left and this team is likely not a playoff team. But for a team that lost more games at home (33-48) last season than on the road (36-45), getting a big win over a perennial powerhouse with one of the best pitchers in the game on the mound at home is a really, really good start. Nothing more and nothing less. Just a good start that has many people in Arizona feeling awfully good right now.
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