D-backs survive wild Opening Day with walk-off win over Giants
PHOENIX — Call it the most improbable Arizona Diamondbacks win of 2017.
And there are 161 more to go.
Chris Owings hit a two-out, walk-off single to push the D-backs past the San Francisco Giants in front of a sold-out crowd of 49,016 at Chase Field on Sunday afternoon.
Owings’ single off closer Mark Melancon was the fourth of four consecutive two-out hits as the D-backs rallied for two runs in the ninth inning to win.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) April 2, 2017
Only minutes earlier, the D-backs appeared to be headed toward their second straight Opening Day defeat with high-priced Zack Greinke on the mound.
Greinke pitched five innings, allowing two runs; one inning longer and five runs fewer than a year ago when he took the mound to begin 2016 against Colorado.
Greinke suffered the loss that day. He earned a no-decision this day.
The D-backs took Greinke off the hook, rallying for three sixth-inning runs off Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, who had no-hit stuff to begin the game.
Bumgarner retired the first 16 batters faced, striking out eight. He finished with 11 strikeouts and zero walks over seven innings of work.
Like Greinke, Bumgarner did not factor in the decision. He did make history, however.
Making his fourth straight Opening Day start, Bumgarner became the first pitcher in Major League Baseball history to hit two home runs on the first day of the season.
The D-backs made history themselves with their first-ever Opening Day walk-off win.
Though he faced multiple scoring threats in the first four innings, Greinke was able to limit the damage to a single run, a Joe Panik sacrifice fly in the second. Twice Greinke worked out of jams. In the first, the Giants had two on and one out before Greinke retired Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford to end the inning. Later in the fourth, Greinke stranded a one-out double. Overall, the Giants went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position through four innings.
Perfect game, no-hitter and shutout. They all ended for Bumgarner over three consecutive at-bats in the sixth inning. Jeff Mathis hit a one-out triple down the left field line, Nick Ahmed followed with a base hit to right and then scored on A.J. Pollock’s two-run home run that tied the game at 3. Pollock, who hit just .143 in spring training with one homer, lifted a 92-mph fastball on an 0-1 count just over the fence in left field. The three-run inning put new life into the stadium.
Three was apparently the magic number for the D-backs. Down 4-3 in the eighth inning, Pollock, Owings and Paul Goldschmidt recorded three consecutive singles, the latter scoring Pollock with the tying run. It was Goldschmidt’s second hit in as many at-bats, as he worked the count from 0-2 to 2-2; and with the fans chanting “Goldy! Goldy!” he grounded the ball just beyond the reach of the third baseman and shortstop on into left field.
It began with a Mathis double. Pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso followed with a single. That tied the game at 5 with two outs in the ninth inning. Pollock then singled, his third hit in as many at-bats, moving Descalso to third. Owings, who had struck out in each of his first three plate appearances, stepped up and delivered the game-winner, dropping Melancon’s offering into short right field. It was Owings’ second career walk-off hit (also: Aug. 9, 2015 vs. Reds).
Nine up, nine down. Bumgarner retired all nine batters faced the first time through the D-backs lineup. And he did it efficiently, needing only 29 pitches, 23 for strikes with 7-of-9 first-pitch strikes. In addition, Bumgarner struck out four, including Jake Lamb, Yasmany Tomas and Brandon Drury in the second inning. Lamb went down swinging on three pitches.
So not only can Bumgarner pitch, but he can hit, too. Leading off the fifth inning, Bumgarner lined a 91-mph fastball, on a 1-2 count, over the left field seats for a home run to give the Giants a 2-0 lead. Then in the seventh inning, he crushed a 2-0 92-mph offering from Andrew Chafin to put the Giants back in front, 4-3. They were the 15th and 16th homers of his career.
Of Bumgarner’s 11 strikeouts, Lamb and Tomas accounted for six. They each struck out three times — Lamb went away swinging each time and Tomas once. Even worse, they each failed in big at-bats in the eighth inning. With no outs and runners on first and second, Lamb grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, while Tomas lined out to the pitcher stranding the go-ahead run 90-feet away.
New year, same problem: the D-backs’ bullpen. Chafin plus newcomers Tom Wilhelmsen and Fernando Rodney all allowed runs in their first appearances. Though Rodney picked up the win, he let the Giants re-take the lead, 5-4, just two batters into the ninth inning on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Conor Gillaspie. Rodney also walked two and issued two wild pitches.
STAT OF THE GAME
4: Down to their last out, the D-backs recorded four straight two-out hits culminating in Owings’ walk-off base hit in the bottom of the ninth inning
HE SAID IT
“It’s cool to get a win no matter what, but Opening Day is special,” Owings said. “The past couple of years I’ve been here we haven’t had much luck winning on Opening Day. Man, it’s good to start the year off with a win.”
– Pollock and Mathis each had three of the D-backs’ 13 total hits. Owings and Goldschmidt added two.
– In the sixth, the D-backs won a manager’s challenge after replay showed Eduardo Nunez out at third.
– In the first, the D-backs recognized all members of the 2017 WBC champion Team USA in attendance.
– This marked the sixth straight year the D-backs opened the season at home, the first time on a Sunday.
– This marked the fourth time in six years these teams opened the season against each other in Arizona.
– With a first-pitch temperature of 75, the game was played outdoors, with both the Chase Field roof and panels open.
– Arizona governor Doug Ducey was among those in attendance. He enjoyed the game from the first row.
– Former Phoenix Suns star and current TNT/CBS analyst Grant Hill threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
– American Idol winner Trent Harmon performed the National Anthem followed by a flyover of four F-16s.
After a day off — a nod to the NCAA Championship Game in Glendale — the D-backs and Giants will resume their four-game series withGame 2 of the series on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 40 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
The mound matchup features left-hander Patrick Corbin and right-hander Johnny Cueto.
Corbin returns to the D-backs rotation after finishing last season in the bullpen. He went 5-13 with a 5.15 ERA in 36 games, including 24 starts in 2016.
Corbin is 4-5 all-time against the Giants.
Meanwhile, Cueto is coming off an 18-game campaign in which he was named an all-star for the second time in three seasons.
Cueto has good numbers at Chase Field: a 6-1 record with a 3.66 ERA in eight career games.