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Mike Leake efficient, limits damage in D-backs’ win over Phillies

Starting pitcher Mike Leake #8 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws a warm-up pitch during the first inning of the MLB game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Chase Field on August 06, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Mike Leake had already faced 13 batters and given up six hits by the end of the third inning in his Arizona Diamondbacks debut on Tuesday night. But he had also only thrown 45 pitches and limited the Philadelphia Phillies to one run at that point.

Leake started off with a hiccup, giving up a solo home run to the first batter of the game. But despite Corey Dickerson’s dinger, Leake settled in and went on to allow only three runs (two earned) on 97 pitches over 5.1 innings pitched — even if he did give up 11 hits and a walk.

The Diamondbacks won, 8-4.

“I thought Mike Leake was more than efficient,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “He pitched into the sixth inning. There was obviously damage control. He puts the ball on the plate.

“He’s locating pitches and he’s trying to hit his spots. Yeah, he made a few mistakes, and I thought he did a really good job at damage control. … He doesn’t panic. There’s no hustle to his game. He’s going to get up on the mound no matter what the circumstances are and make pitches. I really liked what I saw today.”

Leake threw 16 pitches or fewer in four of the six frames in which he worked (including the sixth, during which he only pitched one third of an inning). He threw first-pitch strikes to 14 of the 27 hitters he faced, going through the opposing order three full times.

“I thought [Leake] threw the ball well,” catcher Alex Avila said. “Maybe not as great of command-wise as you probably would’ve liked, but overall made some big pitches. He’s got so many pitches to get guys out with. … The thing with him is you know what you’re going to get out of him every time he goes out there.”

At the plate, Leake — a career .198 hitter with six home runs — went 1-for-2 at the plate with a single. He went first-to-third on a Jarrod Dyson single, testing the throwing arm of Bryce Harper in right field. Leake reached third safely with a slide.

“I’ve been in 11-hit games. It’s common to have guys on base,” Leake said. “So it’s just a matter of keeping on the horse and making the pitches that you need to make. You never know which pitch is going to be the groundout or the pop-up.”

THE GAME ITSELF

The D-backs trailed for much of Leake’s outing, but were tied up at 2-2 for a bit after Eduardo Escobar clubbed a two-run home run in the fourth inning.

Andrew Chafin, pitching in relief of Leake, was tasked with facing Dickerson with one out and two runners on in the sixth inning. Dickerson reached on an error — one of three the D-backs made on the day.

“[Defense] is something that we’re very proud of here,” Lovullo said. “We work hard to make that more than efficient. We need to pick up the baseball and make plays. And unfortunately, we didn’t make some plays today and that hurt us.”

So with the bases loaded and one out, Chafin had to face Rhys Hoskins and Harper. He struck both of them out, the latter to end the inning and leave ’em loaded, drawing a raucous applause from the Chase Field crowd and keeping the game at 3-2 Phillies.

“Honestly I was hoping the first one, roll it over, we’d get a double play and get out of it quicker,” Chafin said.

The strikeout to Harper was more fun for the fans.

The D-backs responded in the bottom of the inning with a two-run, bases-loaded single by Avila to make it 4-3 Arizona.

Arizona had three more runs in the seventh, thanks in-part to a two-run home run from David Peralta, and an eighth run in the eighth inning on Avila’s homer.

After Chafin, Yoan Lopez worked a 1-2-3 inning before Robbie Scott came out for the eighth inning. He allowed back-to-back doubles to start the inning but then got back-to-back strikeouts. Yoshi Hirano entered and rolled up a groundout to finish the frame.

Archie Bradley, who has pitched better as of late and worked himself into higher-leverage roles, pitched the ninth with the 8-4 lead. He gave up two singles, but no runs scored.

EXTRA BASES

— With a two-run home run in the fourth inning, Escobar took the major league lead in RBIs with 91. Entering the game, he was tied with Pittsburgh’s Josh Bell for the MLB lead with 89.

— Avila, who hit a home run and had three RBIs on Tuesday night, now has homered in two consecutive games played and has six RBIs in that span.

— In his Astros debut on Tuesday night, former Diamondback Zack Greinke went six innings, allowing five runs on seven hits, two walks and two strikeouts. His ERA on the season went from 2.90 to 3.08.


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