The Diamondbacks, a playoff team last year who led the NL West on the first day of every month this season, ran out of steam to finish in third place, nine games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies. The last-place Padres (66-96) took two of three from Arizona to close the season.
Margot, who also homered on a 3-for-5 afternoon, reached in the 10th on his career-high eighth triple. When Jake Barrett (0-1) struck out pinch-hitter Francisco Mejia and the ball got away from John Ryan Murphy, Margot raced home on Murphy’s throw to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The relay back to home was tardy.
Arizona went ahead 3-2 in the ninth on a sacrifice fly from Socrates Brito, but the Padres tied it 3-3 on Eric Hosmer’s bloop single to left. Jose Castillo (3-3) pitched the 10th for the win.
Arizona went 8-19 in September to finish 82-80, salvaging a winning record for the second consecutive year.
”I think that is something,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said earlier in the series. ”When it’s all said and done after the month that we had, it is really positive and a good way to finish.”
The Padres, who spent all but four days in the NL West basement, again look ahead to better days. It was their eighth straight losing season and their third straight year with at least 91 losses.
”From our standpoint, we expect to be a lot better,” Padres general manager A.J. Preller said before the game. ”I don’t get too much into a number goal from a win standpoint. I think from out standpoint next year, we’re going to start to compete. You’ve got to get over .500 to do that. We’re going to come in next year and not try to put a ceiling on anything. We expect to be a lot better here moving forward and I think the guys in that room understand that and believe that as well.”
Margot was thrown at the plate by Goldschmidt in the eighth when trying to advance on Marte’s throwing error.
Arizona starter Robbie Ray pitched four-plus innings, allowing two runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out eight.
Joey Lucchesi was surrendered two runs and four hits over six innings. The rookie’s eight strikeouts were one off his career high.
Steven Souza’s first career pinch-hit home run tied it 2-2 in the sixth.
With Freddy Galvis and Wil Myers aboard on singles in the fifth, right fielder Brito dropped to one knee while trying to find the ball in the sun. Instead it landed beside him, with Galvis scoring for a 2-1 Padres advantage.
Margot homered in the second, and the Diamondbacks pulled even when Marte connected in the fourth.
Diamondbacks: Open next season in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.
Padres: Host the San Francisco Giants on March 28, 2019.
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Miller (elbow) tossed a scoreless inning in relief in Saturday’s 5-4 win over the Padres.
Miller faced the minimum in the 16-pitch appearance, working around a leadoff walk to generate a double-play grounder and a fly out to escape the frame unscathed. The 27-year-old was making his first appearance since July 11 after right elbow inflammation once looked like it would prevent him from returning at any point in 2018. While Miller ran out of time to build up to a starter’s workload, he’ll likely be in the mix for a rotation spot next spring after finishing the campaign with his health intact. It’s uncertain if he’ll be vying for a starting role with Arizona, however, as the Diamondbacks could choose to non-tender him this winter in light of his shaky health and underwhelming numbers during his three years in the desert.
While the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies are headed for the playoffs, the Diamondbacks will return to Phoenix on Sunday night after a horrible September cost them a shot at the National League West title.
Arizona led the division for 125 days this season. But an 8-18 record in the final month dropped them from first to third in the division race and entirely out of the playoff race.
The Diamondbacks will finish third in the NL West, although Saturday night’s 5-4 win at Petco Park assured them their first back-to-back winning seasons since 2007-2008.
Meanwhile, the Padres won’t lose 100 games. They have 96 losses going into the season finale.
Arizona will take a 12-6 series edge over the Padres into the last game of the season. Saturday night’s win also assured the Diamondbacks of a winning record for the season against NL West opponents.
The Padres-Diamondbacks finale will be a matchup of left-handers.
Robbie Ray (6-2, 3.91 ERA) will start for Arizona against Padres rookie Joey Lucchesi (8-9, 4.14), who will make his 26th start of the season. Ray will make his 24th.
Lucchesi is the third rookie starter to face the Diamondbacks this weekend. It will be the sixth time he pitches against Arizona this season.
Lucchesi has been at his worst against Arizona, going 0-5 with a 6.85 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP. He has given up 18 runs, 26 hits and 12 walks, with 24 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings. He has allowed five homers by the Diamondbacks — two apiece by Paul Goldschmidt and Nick Ahmed and one by A.J. Pollock.
Against the rest of the league, Lucchesi is 8-4 with a 3.29 ERA and a 1.256 WHIP. Opposing batters are hitting .256 this season against Lucchesi, with right-handed hitters batting .259 and left-handers .242.
Lucchesi will make his 16th career start at Petco Park, where he is 5-5 with a 4.07 ERA.
In Lucchesi’s most recent outing last Sunday at Dodger Stadium, he allowed a career-worst seven runs, seven hits and two walks, with six strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings. Three of the hits were homers, bringing his 2018 total to 21 homers allowed in 124 innings.
Ray is 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA in his last 10 starts. In the last seven outings, he has a 1.85 ERA and a .153 opponents’ batting average.
Ray is 1-0 with a 4.20 ERA in three starts against the Padres this season, allowing seven runs in 15 innings. He is 5-4 lifetime against the Padres with a 3.99 ERA in 12 starts.
Ray is 3-1 in 11 road starts this season with a 2.95 ERA, a .187 opponents’ batting average and a 1.182 WHIP.
Overall, opponents are hitting .213 against Ray this season with a 1.32 WHIP. Right-handed hitters are batting .219 against Ray and left-handers are hitting only .129 against him.
Is there anything sadder in baseball than game #161, between two teams who have nothing to play for? If it was the last contest of the season, then there would be some sense of finality and closure, an opportunity to draw a line under things, no matter how disappointing things may eventually have become. Put it this way: I remember the final episode ever of Dexter. I could not tell you anything at all about the penultimate episode. And even though this game secured a winning record for Arizona, for the first time in a decade, it was not exactly one which will merit mention when the history of the 2018 season is written.
However, there are a couple of people on the team who probably will remember it. Firstly, there’s infield prospect Ildemaro Vargas. In his 12 previous appearances this season, he had managed only two hits and one RBI, though in his defense, had made only one start in his entire MLB career, dating back to June 2017. Tonight was #2, and he picked up two hits, three RBI and his first home-run, a two-run shot in the fourth inning (below). Ildemaro is one of the potentially interesting pieces for 2019, though that may depend on what direction the team takes. If they enter rebuild mode, and trade Nick Ahmed, Vargas could end up as a cheap alternative.
The other who might remember this game is Shelby Miller. He made an unexpected return to the roster this afternoon, with room made by Christian Walker going to the 60-day disabled list. And Miller came in for the seventh inning, putting up a zero after a lead-off walk, helped by the double-play that followed. His velocity seemed fine, touching 95 mph, yet he’s another who faces an uncertain future. Are the team willing to commit to his salary in 2019? The D-backs could well be in need of starting pitchers, but Miller’s return from Tommy John surgery has been considerably bumpier than, say, Patrick Corbin’s and a non-tender is entirely possible. This could have been Miller’s final outing as a D-back.
Tonight’s win, however, went to Zack Godley, who reached the 15-victory plateau. He finishes the season with a 15-11 record, a considerable improvement over last year’s record of 8-9. Just goes to show how W-L record can be deceiving, since his ERA and most of Zack’s peripherals all went in the wrong direction, mostly down to mechanical issues which helped cause control problems. When his curve was on, it was nasty as any pitch in an Arizona arsenal. However, too often, it was one opponents could lay off, and when that was the case, trouble usually followed. Consistent, reproducible mechanics will be Godley’s goal for 2019.
Tonight was almost a poster-child for his season’s issues, which have seen Godley go from great to terrible, or vice versa, in the blink of an eye. It has usually been the middle frames which been problematic for Godley. Here’s his final 2019 ERA by inning:
Put another way, he holds opponents to a .590 OPS first time through the order. That then jumps to .787 when they get a second look, and .881 third time through. Those are numbers which suggest a possible move to the bullpen, but I think we’ll see if Mike Butcher can work with Godley between now and Opening Day 2019, see what can be done. This evening, Zack was 1-for-8 with a walk the first time through, but 3-for-8 with a walk the second time, and San Diego scored three times against him in the fourth inning.
Fortunately, the D-backs had a four-run lead by that point. Half of that was due to the Vargas home-run, with the other two coming in the second inning. Daniel Descalso doubled with one out, Socrates Brito walked, and Vargas opened the scoring with an RBI single. That moved Brito to third and a wild pitch brought him home. After San Diego had brought it back to a one-run game, Arizona added an insurance run in the sixth. Godley helped out his own cause by grinding a walk with two outs, which loaded the bases and chased the Padres’ pitcher from the game. The new reliever then threw four straight wide ones to Jon Jay, making the score 5-3.
Godley left the game after six, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks – both to Hunter Renfroe – with five strikeouts. Miller pitched the seventh, then Brad Ziegler cashed in that insurance run in the eighth, allowing a solo home-run to Eric Hosmer. To protect the one-run lead in the ninth, Torey Lovullo turned to Yoshihisa Hirano, and it went better than last night. Hirano notched his third save with a perfect inning, needing only eight pitches to retire the Padres in order, and give Lovullo his second winning season as a manager. Arizona managed only seven hits, with two apiece for Eduardo Escobar, Descalso and Vargas, while Alex Avila had a hit and a walk.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com Tram: Ildemaro Vargas, +29.2% Hovercraft: Hirano, +19.0%; Descalso, +11.4% Horse-drawn cart: Ketel Marte, -12.1%
Another quiet GDT, with only a dozen participants. It’s almost as if people have better things to do. Present were: AzDbackfanInDc, DeadManG, GuruB, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, SongBird, coldblueAZ, edbigghead, and onedotfive. Nothing got more than a single rec, so no Comment of the Night. We’ll reconvene one last time tomorrow, for the final D-backs game of the 2018 season. Robbie Ray takes the mound for Arizona, and please remember, it’s an oddly early West coast start, at 12:10 pm.
That’s because, as has become traditional, all games on the final day start more or less simultaneously. With the Dodgers and Brewers winning, while the Rockies and Cubs lost, it means the NL West and Central go into the last game with a tie at the top. All four teams are guaranteed to make the post-season, but in what order and how is entirely up in the air. It’s possible nothing at all could end up being decided, and we need to have a pair of Game #163 on Monday. It’ll certainly be a very interesting day!
SAN DIEGO – Steven Souza Jr. is no stranger to expectations. He once wore the label of a highly regarded prospect. He was the centerpiece of a blockbuster trade before he’d logged two dozen at-bats in the majors. So when the idea is floated to him that having to replace J.D. Martinez might have created an undue burden, that it might help explain what has been a difficult first season with the Diamondbacks, Souza respectfully disagrees.
He understands the premise. He just doesn’t think it adds up.
“I didn’t put those expectations (on myself) to replace J.D.,” Souza said. “I’m pretty realistic of who I am as a player. I play a completely different style of game, a more overall game. J.D. is a phenomenal hitter; there is really nobody in the league that can really replace J.D.’s ability to hit. I don’t think that had anything to do with how my year went at all.”
When the Diamondbacks acquired Souza in February, they did not expect him to be one of baseball’s most feared hitters. They saw him replacing Martinez in a much different fashion, contributing in multiple facets in a way that might come close to approximating Martinez’s bat-only value.
This, of course, did not happen, and the way the season played out – for Souza, the Diamondbacks and Martinez – makes the situation perhaps the easiest to second-guess of all the club’s offseason moves.
While Martinez has posted another monster season, helping the Boston Red Sox accumulate the most wins in baseball, Souza has had an unproductive year with his new team, hitting just .217 with a .660 OPS entering Saturday night.
Last year with the Diamondbacks, Martinez slammed four home runs in a game at Dodger Stadium. Souza has needed 240 at-bats to match that total. Asked to reflect on his year, he has no delusions about how things have gone.
“Not great,” he said. “It’s just been a really trying year. To the point of injury, re-injury, the trade, coming back and not playing well. All of it has just been a trying year, one I’m going to use for motivation next year.”
There are any number of reasons why things went the way they did. The most logical occurred midway through spring training, when Souza dove for a ball in right-center field at Salt River Fields and suffered what was described as a right pectoral strain.
The Diamondbacks hoped the injury was minor; it turned out to be a lingering problem, one that required two stints on the disabled list and, as Souza seemed to intimate, might need further attention once the season is over.
“Everybody is in here playing with something,” Souza said. “I don’t think that’s a good enough reason (for my performance). It was a grind on that part. I’m looking forward to getting home, resting and getting back to 100 percent and coming in like myself.”
The injury added to a situation that Souza described as being caught in a whirlwind he couldn’t slow down. He was traded only a few days into spring training. He logged only 27 at-bats in the Cactus League. When he returned in May, the injury hadn’t yet healed, and he wound up back on disabled list until July.
“I was playing catch-up all year long,” he said.
Diamondbacks executives wonder about another possible factor for his struggles. They point to a phenomenon that analyst Bill James studied during his time in the Red Sox front office, something James called the “Transition Tax.” James found evidence that players who leave one club to join another often see their production drop in the first year.
“Coming into a new environment, replacing J.D. Martinez,” General Manager Mike Hazen said. “Does that have anything to do with it? I don’t know.
“I think anytime you trade for somebody and thrust them into a situation like that, I think it’s natural to be a challenge. He’s never expressed that. But we feel that. We’ve traded for guys in the past at various places, and the first year, sometimes it doesn’t always go exactly how you want it to go.
“You want it so bad to make it go a certain way and it’s not that simple. I think if there’s anything we can do to help that, not even in this situation but even moving forward as we acquire other players, I think it’s something for us to pay attention to.”
Martinez, of course, suffered no such setbacks in his first year with the Red Sox. The Diamondbacks appeared to hang around on the periphery of Martinez’s free-agent experience until the end, though their offer – the exact terms of which are unknown – was far shorter both in years and dollars.
If the Diamondbacks had stretched their payroll to sign him, they would have assumed significant risk as a small- to mid-market team. They might have had their in-season moves curtailed by financial limitations. And the deal likely would have impacted the long-term futures of either Paul Goldschmidt or Zack Greinke – or perhaps both.
Instead, Hazen opted to part with infielder Brandon Drury and three prospects to get Souza, whom the club felt could contribute at the plate, on the bases and in the field. So far, the deal has not worked out, though with Souza under club control for two more years it could look better in time.
Souza was a risky asset when they acquired him, a player with limited big-league success. But he was coming off a highly productive year with the Tampa Bay Rays in which he posted an .810 OPS with 30 homers and 16 steals. He accumulated a 4.2 WAR, per Baseball-Reference. Hazen said last week the team still likes Souza’s potential – “We know that’s in there,” he said – even if it laid dormant for most of the year.
“We believe in this guy strongly,” Hazen said. “We believe he’s going to come back next year and have a great year.”
Souza wants to use the season as a learning experience, saying he knows better now than to rush back from an injury and adding that he can “maybe fix my mindset on different things.”
“Whatever it is, take some time to really digest it and use it for next year to come back as the player that I am,” Souza said. “I love playing this game. I feel like when I do have things sitting right, I’m a pretty decent ballplayer. I don’t like to just forget about things – I feel like every season that’s been given to me, God uses that to either build my character, build my ability or build something in my life to show me where I can improve.”
Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.
Hunter Renfroe‘s pinch-hit homer for the Padres with two outs in the 12th tied the score at 2. Pinch-hitter Javy Guerra drew a leadoff walk from Matt Andriese (0-3) in the 15th and scored on Galvis’ double to right field.
Colten Brewer (1-0) worked two innings for his first major league win.
Nick Ahmed‘s sacrifice fly put the Diamondbacks ahead 2-1 in the top of the 12th. Ahmed sent a shallow fly ball toward Franmil Reyes in right and initially Ketel Marte wasn’t going to try to advance from third base. But when Reyes was tardy in throwing the ball in, Marte took off and was safe on a close play at the plate.
Jose Pirela’s home run off Diamondbacks reliever Silvino Bracho in the seventh tied it 1-all. Arizona had taken the lead in the top of the inning when Chris Owings scored on a passed ball.
Padres rookie starter Eric Lauer allowed singles to the first two batters he faced – after limiting the Dodgers to one run over five innings in his previous outing. But the lefty tiptoed out of trouble in the first two innings.
From there, Lauer settled down. He gave up an unearned run and seven hits with six strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
Owings opened the seventh with a single and John Ryan Murphy followed with a double. With the infield in, Galvis made a spectacular, over-the-shoulder catch in short center field on pinch-hitter Patrick Kivlehan’s popup to hold the runners.
Marte drew a walk to load the bases and then rookie catcher Francisco Mejia let Robert Stock’s outside pitch bounce off his glove. Owings scored to make it 1-0.
Arizona starter Patrick Corbin went five scoreless innings. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out four but remained winless since Sept. 7.
Padres: RHP Brett Kennedy (left knee) had surgery and is expected to be healthy for spring training.
Diamondbacks: RHP Zack Godley (14-11, 4.75 ERA) starts the middle game of the series Saturday looking to snap a four-start losing streak. His last win came on Aug. 29 against the Giants. Godley is 3-4 with a 5.40 ERA in his career against the Padres.
Padres: RHP Jacob Nix (2-4, 6.81) makes his second career start versus Arizona, with both outings coming at Petco Park. He was charged with five runs and five hits while getting only two outs when facing the Diamondbacks on Aug. 16.
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