By the numbers: Diamondbacks’ road trip vs. Rockies, Rays
The Arizona Diamondbacks just completed a two-series road trip against National League West rival Colorado Rockies and the team tied for the second-most wins in the MLB, the Tampa Bay Rays.
After winning a pair in Colorado, the D-backs struggled to put together another win beginning with a five-run blown lead in the eighth inning of the final game against the Rockies. Arizona lost three in a row before salvaging the trip with an extra-innings win over the Rays on Wednesday.
Arizona saw heroics – and struggles – from different pieces of the lineups in the six games they played.
Here’s a quick look at some notable stats in the series.
In the extra inning win against the Rays on Wednesday, D-backs pitchers struck out 23 batters. It was the most Ks by the team in exactly 18 years – on May 8, 2001, Randy Johnson struck out 20 batters in nine innings and then Troy Brohawn got one more K in the 11th inning.
The difference between the batting average of the 1-5 hitters in the two series. In the three games at Colorado, the top five hitters in the D-backs batting order went 23-for-69, good for a .333 average. But against the Rays, those five hitters only got seven total hits — only one in each of the first two games before “exploding” for five in game three — and hit .122 in 57 total at-bats.
That batting average was reflected in the runs scored. The D-backs scored at least seven runs in all three games against the Rockies, but combined for seven runs in the three games against the Rays. Part of that had to do with the opposing pitchers — nobody hits 2018 American League Cy Young winner Blake Snell, and Charlie Morton is an experienced pitcher in the regular season and playoffs — but D-backs couldn’t touch the relievers either.
The D-backs faced 13 relief pitchers — 14, if you want to include Tuesday’s starter Ryan Stanek, who threw 2.0 innings and pitches out of the bullpen as often as he starts — in the three-game series against the Rays. Arizona experienced Tampa’s “opener” strategy in which they sometimes forego their starter in favor of deploying a relief pitcher for the opening frames before pulling him after a couple innings. The D-backs scored just four runs off these pitchers, only two of whom went longer than two innings.
It’s a small sample size, but opposing teams finally got to D-backs closer Greg Holland. That 3.000 represents his WHIP in his two appearances. Over those two innings, he allowed six baserunners; prior to this road trip, he had allowed a total of two hits and five walks in 11 innings, which made for a 0.636 WHIP.
The number of RBI from infielder Wilmer Flores, who drove in a run every game except the 12-1 loss against Snell. Flores hit .375 over the trip and had multiple hits in every game except two: one, the aforementioned Snell game, and the second in which he only had one at-bat. In that game, the 8-7 loss to the Rockies, he had a hit and RBI in the eighth as a pinch hitter. After opening the season with a .203 batting average through 20 games, Flores has upped that mark to .269.
After relief pitcher Archie Bradley blew a five-run eighth inning lead to the Rockies, manager Torey Lovullo said he would adjust Bradley’s role to avoid the heart of the order. That plan was tossed aside when the D-backs needed a hand in extra innings. Three days after Lovullo’s announcement, Bradley threw 39 pitches in extra innings against one of the hottest teams in baseball. In those three innings, he gave up one hit and one walk while striking out five.
The most important number of the series, the D-backs went 3-3 on the road trip. After starting strong, they lost three games in a row — including one in which they had led 7-2 in the eighth inning – and it took extra innings to get the third. After all that, they left the road trip with a split and return home in second place in the NL West.