Bullpen holds, Marte’s clutch hits lift D-backs to win over Rockies
When the sixth inning ended in Colorado Tuesday night, the realization arrived at what had to come for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
With a 4-3 lead, three innings left and starting pitcher Zack Greinke at over 80 pitches, the bullpen would need to close the game out.
Yes, this is how baseball normally works, but the D-backs have had anything but normal production from their bullpen as of late.
In their last 18.1 innings, the Arizona bullpen had allowed 35 hits and 23 earned runs.
The team’s closer Brad Boxberger earned three losses in his last four appearances, leading to manager Torey Lovullo making the call Monday there would no longer be a traditional closer and the last three outs would be determined by matchups.
Boxberger wasn’t the only reliever struggling, adding to the unease about the remaining innings in Colorado.
Well, Greinke would hang around another 0.2 innings, leaving the bullpen to finish the seventh and the last two innings.
It sure wasn’t pretty, as the D-backs had to sweat it out in the seventh and ninth, but the bullpen was able to hold the lead for a 6-3 win.
After Matt Holiday hit a double with two outs off Greinke that nearly went over the wall in right-center, lefty Andrew Chafin entered for Greinke and walked Chris Iannetta and Charlie Blackmon to load the bases.
Lovullo had seen enough, pulling Chafin for Brad Ziegler to face D.J. LeMahieu. Ziegler fell behind 2-0, but forced a weak ground-ball out two pitches later for the third out and the D-backs escaped the seventh with the lead intact.
Ziegler came back for the eighth, and while one baserunner reached with one out, he calmly ended any threat with a double play to leave only the ninth remaining.
Left-hander Jake Diekman started the ninth facing two Colorado lefties, and Carlos Gonzalez started things by hitting the first pitch he saw for a double. Ryan McMahon came up and hit a picture-perfect bunt to first, leaving Paul Goldschmidt with no play.
Diekman exited for Yoshihisa Hirano, who had the winning run at the plate and runners on the corners with no outs.
Hirano got Ian Desmond to chase a breaking ball in the dirt for the first out, struck out Iannetta on the next at-bat and Charlie Blackmon lined out to center for Hirano to pick up his first-career save and a D-backs victory.
Arizona had some big-time hits in the win and two of them came from Ketel Marte.
David Peralta’s two-run homer in the first set the tone, and after Colorado quickly tied the game back up, Marte broke the deadlock in the sixth with two RBI of his own on a triple. Marte’s triple was his 11th, the most in the majors.
After that frightening seventh, Arizona had runners on second and third with Marte up in the eighth. The second baseman came through again, knocking a two-RBI single to right to make it four RBI on the day and a 6-3 D-backs lead.
Greinke put the D-backs in a position to win.
He allowed two runs in the first inning and another in the sixth, putting his final line at 6.2 innings pitched with six hits, no walks and three runs.
His top-notch stuff came after those two runs scored in the first when Greinke retired 15 straight batters after Trevor Story’s RBI double matched Nolan Arenado’s from earlier in the inning.
That streak lasted until the sixth inning with two outs when Arenado doubled again and David Dahl hit another to score Colorado’s third and final run of the game.
Arizona will look to lock up at least a tie of the series on Wednesday with Patrick Corbin on the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. on ESPN 620 AM.