A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks walk off Houston Astros
PHOENIX — No Arizona Diamondbacks hitter has swung a hotter bat than A.J. Pollock this season. Named the NL Player of the Month for April, he’s showing no signs of cooling off here in May.
With one RBI already under his belt, Pollock added a second—a run-scoring infield single—to help the D-backs walk-off the Houston Astros in front of an announced crowd of 39,154 at Chase Field on Saturday night.
The victory snapped a season-high three-game losing streak and put the D-backs in position to win the series, which would be their 10th, on Sunday.
Pollock’s two-out base hit off Christopher Devenski (1-1) deflected off the glove of third baseman Alex Bregman and bounced into left field, easily scoring pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson from third without a throw.
Obviously, the D-backs will take the win. At 22-11, they are off to their second-best 33-game start in franchise history.
The ninth-inning excitement, however, was only needed because of what happened the inning prior. Up 3-1 in the eighth, Yoshihisa Hirano was tagged for two runs. It’s the second time in three games the D-backs bullpen has failed to do its job.
Both starting pitchers were long gone by the time the outcome was decided, though Zack Greinke was in line for the win prior to the bullpen meltdown.
Greinke pitched 5.2 innings, allowing one run—a George Springer home run—on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. He left with 3-1 lead.
The D-backs’ three runs were all charged to Astros starter Charlie Morton, who entered with a seven-game winning streak.
The D-backs scored single runs in both the first and second innings and then added a third in the fifth. Pollock had a sacrifice fly, while David Peralta homered and recorded an RBI single. Peralta finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Brad Boxberger (1-2) earned the win.
The Astros have lost four of five.
Of course it was Pollock who would drive in the D-backs first run. Entering the day with 25 RBI, tops on the team and fourth-most in the National League, Pollock lifted a 1-1 split-fingered fastball into left field, just deep enough to plate Peralta for a 1-0 lead in the first inning. The sacrifice fly marked Pollock’s fifth RBI of the homestand.
Only Pollock has hit more home runs for the D-backs than Peralta, who connected on his sixth of the season. With two outs in the second inning, Peralta blasted a 1-1 curveball over the pool in right field to put the D-backs ahead 2-0. It was just his second hit of the homestand and the fifth home run allowed by Morton in seven starts.
Oh, and Pollock is also good with the glove, too. In the third inning, Carlos Correa just crushed a ball to deep center field. Pollock raced towards the wall and made a leaping grab, taking away extra bases and saving one run, and maybe two. According to Statcast, the ball left Correa’s bat traveling 108.8 mph and had a 92-percent hit probability.
Though he was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double, Peralta recorded his second RBI of the game with a run-scoring base hit in the fifth inning, The play, which made it 3-1 in favor of the D-backs, scored Greinke who had led off the inning with a double, his second of the season and third hit overall in 2018, second-most among D-backs pitchers.
Bases loaded twice and the D-backs scored only one run in the first inning. Without a hit, mind you. (See “THE GOOD” for the run-scoring details.) They had Morton on the ropes, so to speak, and could not capitalize. Morton walked four in the inning, including the first three batters. At one point, he had thrown nine straight balls. His command was so off that the Astros burned two of their six mound visits. Of the 35 pitches Morton threw in the inning, 21 were outside the strike zone.
Leading off the fifth inning, Springer greeted the first pitch he saw from Greinke, an 87.8 mph changeup, and deposited it on to the concourse in left-center field for a home run, cutting the D-backs lead in half, 2-1. It was Springer’s seventh long ball of the season and the seventh surrendered by Greinke this season. Springer, by the way, has now hit safely in all 15 of his career games against the D-backs, batting .453 (29-for-64) with five doubles, four home runs and 12 RBI.
Called upon to protect a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning, Hirano was tagged for two runs on two hits with a pair of walks, including a one-out four-pitch free pass to Josh Reddick who scored on Brian McCann’s double to make it 3-2. Two batters later, Derek Fisher doubled into the right-field corner to tie the game. Fisher, who was pinch-hitting, swung at the first offering from Hirano, a 92.6 mph fastball. Coming into the day, Hirano had recorded scoreless appearances in 11 of his 14 outings (3 ER in 13.1 IP).
STAT OF THE GAME
2: It was Pollock’s second career walk-off plate appearance (last: walk-off homer on May 26, 2014 vs. Padres) and the D-backs’ second walk-off win of the season
HE SAID IT
“It was a really good win, a very good win, especially when you give up a two-run lead late, which is a part of the game, and then you rally around one another and take team at-bats and do team things to win a game. That’s what speaks to me the most tonight,” manager Torey Lovullo said.
Greinke threw a first-pitch strike to 18-of-24 batters faced; plus, he reached a 3-ball count four times
Archie Bradley has held opponents scoreless in eight straight games, totaling eight complete innings
Paul Goldschmidt (0-for-3 with two walks) struck out in the fifth inning, his 11th strikeout of the homestand
Let the record show Astros reliever Collin McHugh became the first pitcher to use the bullpen cart
With a first-pitch temperature of 98 degrees, the game was played with the roof and panels closed
As part of the Cinco de Mayo celebration, the players and coaches wore their Los D-backs uniforms
The series and the homestand concludes on Sunday, May 6, when a pair of right-handers: Matt Koch and Justin Verlander, take the mound in Game 3. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 with pregame coverage beginning 40 minutes earlier on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station.
Koch (1-0) has pitched well, filing in for the injured Taijuan Walker. He recorded back-to-back quality starts before a five-inning outing five days ago against the Dodgers, allowing three runs, two earned, on four hits, including a home run, with three walks and three strikeouts.
This will be his fourth straight start.
Meanwhile, Verlander (4-0) is coming off his best outing of the season.
Facing the Yankees in Houston, Verlander struck out a career-high tying 14 batters and allowed just three hits over eight scoreless innings. It marked the fourth time in seven starts in which he did not surrender a run.
Verlander is 3-0 in three starts, including a victory last season, all-time against the D-backs.