Mathis’ walk-off in 15th wins D-backs longest game in Chase Field history
PHOENIX — It was like deja vu all over again, to quote Yogi Berra.
Before many had settled into their seats on Monday, the L.A. Dodgers had scored three times in the first inning. Nearly six months earlier, it was a four-run first.
The common denominator: Taijuan Walker.
Making his first start of 2018, Walker’s outing looked very much like his last start of 2017. On that night in October, Game 3 of the National League Division Series, Walker was pounded early and the Arizona Diamondbacks lost.
History repeated itself, with the exception of the final result.
In the bottom of the 15th inning, Jeff Mathis hit a walk-off single to lift the D-backs past the Dodgers in game one of the three-game series, 8-7. It was 12:25 a.m. when Nick Ahmed crossed home plate, ending the five-hour and 45-minute marathon, marking the longest game, in terms of time, in the history of Chase Field.
The D-backs scored twice in the 15th after the Dodgers had taken a 7-6 lead on Chase Utley’s RBI single.
The game was sent to extra innings on Chris Owings’ two-out, three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth.
Fernando Salas (1-0) earned the win, while Wilmer Font (0-1) suffered the loss.
As far as Walker goes, give him credit. This time he pitched beyond the first inning. He went five, shutting the Dodgers down after the first, and kept his team in the game.
The D-backs battled back to tie the game in the fourth, taking Walker off the hook, only to see the bullpen allow single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to once again put the home team in a three-run hole prior to Owings’ heroics.
Yasmani Grandal highlighted the Dodgers three-run first inning with a two-run home run. He finished 3-for-6 with two walks and two runs scored.
Overall, Walker allowed three runs on eight hits with two walks and four strikeouts as part of a 98-pitch effort.
The D-backs have won seven straight regular-season games against the Dodgers.
Back-to-back two-out doubles scored the D-backs’ first run. A.J. Pollock plated Paul Goldschmidt with an extra-base hit into the left-field corner that trimmed the Dodgers lead to 3-1 in the first inning. It was Pollock’s fifth hit of the season. It was the first, however, for Goldschmidt, who entered the game 0-for-8 with four walks. Goldschmidt ripped a 1-0 fastball off the batter’s eye in straightaway center field.
After a one-out triple by Ketel Marte in the third inning, Hyun-Jin Ryu suddenly found the strike zone difficult to hit. He walked three of the next four batters, including back-to-back free passes issued to Owings and Jake Lamb; the latter of which forced in the D-backs’ second run. For Lamb, it marked his third career bases-loaded walk. He’s come up to bat with the bases loaded four times in four games, tops in baseball.
As if one triple wasn’t good enough, Marte added a second in as many at-bats. And this time, he drove in a run. With two outs and a runner on first base in the fourth inning, Marte drilled a ball into right-center field. By the time the ball was thrown back in the infield, Marte was third and David Peralta had scored to tie the game at three. Marte’s two triples matched the club’s single-game, regular-season record.
Down to their last out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Owings swung at the first pitch he saw from Kenley Jansen and sent the 90.5 mph cutter into the seats in left-center field for a three-run home run to tie the game at six. It marked the 10th game-tying home run in franchise history in such situations and just the second of the three-run variety. Mark Reynolds on June 11, 2008, at the New York Mets was the other.
Eight pitches into the game and the Dodgers had a 1-0 lead. Eight more pitches and the Dodgers had a 3-0 lead. Corey Seager singled home Joc Pederson who led off with a double. Two batters later, Grandal deposited a 2-1 fastball — clocked at 90.6 mph — over the right-field fence and into the pool area. It was Grandal’s first home run of the season. Walker, by the way, needed 29 pitches to complete the first inning.
Once Walker was removed from the game the next three D-backs relievers — Yoshi Hirano, Andrew Chafin and T.J. McFarland — each allowed one run. Hirano served up a solo home run to Logan Forsythe with one out in the sixth inning that snapped the 3-3 tie. Chafin and McFarland then surrendered RBI singles to Cody Bellinger and Pederson in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, that made it 6-3 Dodgers.
Before the Owings at-bat in the ninth inning, the D-backs had recorded just two hits since the fourth inning, a Pollock double in the seventh and an Ahmed single in the eighth. The seventh inning was especially troubling as the D-backs had runners on second and third but were unable to push across a run. And, again, up until Owings’ game-tying homer, the D-backs were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
In extra innings, the D-backs ran into a pair of outs, both of which were the third out of their respective innings. First, with Alex Avila batting with two outs in the 12th, Lamb was thrown out attempting to steal second. Then with one out in the 14th, Marte was thrown out trying to advance into scoring position on Pollock’s fly ball to right field. It was a great play by Yasiel Puig, who immediately fired the ball into second base.
STAT OF THE GAME
5: Mathis recorded his fifth career walk-off plate appearance and his first since a walk-off grand slam on June 30, 2013, against the Padres as a member of the Marlins.
HE SAID IT
“It was a really, really satisfying night to come out ahead the way we did. It spoke volumes about the character of this team,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “I’ve talked about it now for over a year, this team doesn’t shut down. They fight, they claw, they believe…really proud of these guys tonight.”
Walker threw a first-pitch strike to 17-of-24 batters faced; in addition, he reached a 3-ball count five times.
Owings became just the fourth player (and third D-back) to hit a three-run (or better) home run off Jansen.
Pollock has reached base safely in 16 straight games against the Dodgers, dating back to April 16, 2017.
Lamb was thrown out 5-1 to leadoff the second inning; credit the Dodgers defensive shift for that putout.
Avila started to jog back to the dugout after the second out — Cody Bellinger struck out — of the first inning.
Per Baseball Reference, the game marked the first pitching matchup of dueling No. 99s in MLB history.
With a first-pitch temperature of 86 degrees, the game was played with both the roof and panels open.
Former D-backs closer and World Series champion Byung-Hyun Kim threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
It’s Zack Godley’s turn. Finally.
The last of the D-backs’ five starters makes his first appearance of the season. He takes the ball in game two of the three-game series on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. on ESPN 620 AM.
Godley set career highs in starts (26), wins (eight), innings (155.0) and strikeouts (165) in 2017. He made three starts against the Dodgers, going 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA (eight ER in 18.1 IP).
Opposite Godley will be Clayton Kershaw, the second of three straight left-handers the D-backs will face in the series.
Kershaw (0-1) suffered the loss on Opening Day to the Giants despite allowing one run — a solo home run — in six innings with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Over his career, Kershaw is 14-8 with a 2.55 ERA (46 ER in 162.2 IP) in 26 starts against the D-backs.