Down to last strike, Mets rally past Diamondbacks

Down to last strike, Mets rally past Diamondbacks

Brandon Nimmo hit a go-ahead two-run homer with two outs in the top of the ninth inning as the New York Mets rallied for a 5-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks Sunday at Chase Field.

The Mets were down to their last out and eventually their last strike before putting together a stirring rally off Brad Boxberger (1-3), who blew his third save.

Jose Reyes, who is hitting .165, started it with a bunt down the third base line that appeared to go foul. Instead, catcher Alex Avila fielded the ball and Reyes reached.

Jose Bautista was down to his last strike when he snapped a 0-for-14 skid by ripping a double to deep right. Right fielder Jon Jay made a lunging attempt to catch it but the ball deflected off his glove and Reyes easily scored from second following defensive indifference.

Two pitches later, Nimmo cracked his 10th homer by launching Boxberger’s 0-1 pitch well over the right-field fence for a 4-3 lead.

It was New York’s first go-ahead homer in the ninth or beyond when trailing since Lucas Duda did it on Sept. 27, 2014, against Houston’s Tony Sipp at Citi Field.

After Nimmo’s homer, Asdrubal Cabrera added insurance by driving Boxberger’s 1-1 changeup 421 feet over the center field fence and adjacent to the swimming pool.

The homers lifted the Mets to their second win in games when trailing after eight innings.

The homers also gave the Mets only their fifth win in the last 23 games.

Before scoring four times, Todd Frazier lifted a sacrifice fly in the first inning.

The Diamondbacks lost for the second time when leading after eight innings. Boxberger tied a career worst by allowing four runs for the fourth time and his first instance since Sept. 20, 2016, with Tampa Bay.

Jeurys Familia (3-3), who was activated off the disabled list before the game, gave up an RBI single to Jake Lamb in the eighth but was credited with the win when Nimmo homered.

Robert Gsellman notched his third save and survived first baseman Dominic Smith dropping the throw from Cabrera at second base on Avila’s grounder. The Mets challenged the call, but the ruling stood and Gsellman quickly finished the game with Paul Goldschmidt looming on deck.

David Peralta hit an RBI double and Ketel Marte had a run-scoring groundout in the fourth as Arizona lost for the sixth time in 20 games.

Long before the wild ninth, both starters pitched well.

In his sixth start with Arizona, Clay Buchholz held the Mets to one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out three, walked two, and threw a season-high 88 pitches.

New York’s Zack Wheeler retired the first 10 hitters before walking Goldschmidt. Shortly after the walk to Goldschmidt, New York starting pitcher Jason Vargas was ejected by plate umpire Jim Reynolds for arguing balls and strikes from the bench.

–Field Level Media

Hometown hero: Drafted by Diamondbacks, Phoenix native Ernie De La Trinidad off to promising start with Cougars

Hometown hero: Drafted by Diamondbacks, Phoenix native Ernie De La Trinidad off to promising start with Cougars

Last year’s Major League Baseball draft was pretty much the best-case scenario for Ernie De La Trinidad.

What’s happened since has been pretty good, too.

Selected by the team he grew up watching — the Arizona Diamondbacks — out of UNLV in the 19th round in 2017, De La Trinidad has emerged as a reliable performer for the Cougars in his first full season as a pro.

De La Trinidad, a 22-year-old outfielder, grew up in Phoenix, winning state titles in baseball and football at Mountain Pointe High School. He spent time at Central Arizona College before landing at UNLV.

When the 5-foot-9, 165-pounder found out he was drafted by the Diamondbacks, he was excited.

“I was so happy,” De La Trinidad said. “It’s my hometown team, so you root for them. … Going into the draft, I just wanted a spring training team in Arizona. I was stoked with that.”

An added benefit in his first offseason as a professional was his proximity to the Diamondbacks’ facility in Scottsdale, about a half hour from his high school. Being close meant access to Diamondbacks’ minor league hitting coordinator Chris Cron throughout the winter.

“This past offseason I really worked on controlling the zone,” De La Trinidad said. “Me being in Arizona, I have the luxury of having the spring training facility in my back yard. I go out there and hit and that’s what I practice with (Cron). The way we take batting practice is to swing at your pitch.”

De La Trinidad has drawn a team-best 32 walks this season. But he’s also having success swinging the bat.

After enduring a four-game hitless streak, he has hit in seven straight, going 12-for-27 to raise his average to .273. He belted his fifth home run in Sunday’s 4-3 win over Wisconsin to end the first half of the season. Kane County finished fourth in the eight-team Western Division at 35-34 and did not earn a playoff berth.

“The organization is big on controlling the zone,” De La Trinidad said. “It’s definitely something that I bought into big time. You just have to swing at your pitches. If I can get a hit and get a good swing on it, I’m going to go after it. If it’s something out of the hand that it doesn’t look like I can do too much with, I spit. More times than not, I’m pretty good with the eye.”

Cougars hitting coach Rick Short notes several things working in De La Trinidad’s favor. He’s a left-handed hitter, he knows the strike zone and he can play left and right field and fill in at center.

“That adds value,” Short said. “He’s got an advanced approach. He knows what he’s looking for. He knows what he can handle. He’s kind of a student of the game. He loves to prepare. He’s polished.”

In a league with much turnover throughout the season, De La Trinidad and first baseman Yoel Yanqui have been mainstays in the Cougars’ lineup. Yanqui played in 63 first-half games, while De La Trinidad played in 62.

“On a daily basis, they both make really good contact, so it keeps the ball moving, keeps the action going, not a lot of strikeouts,” Short said. “You know what you’re going to get each and every day. These guys are kind of a steady presence and it’s kind of nice to have those guys in the lineup.”

Paul Johnson is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.

Diamondbacks trade Sedona Red for blue in honor of Father's Day

Diamondbacks trade Sedona Red for blue in honor of Father's Day

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Clay Buchholz throws in the first inning during a baseball game against the New York Mets, Sunday, June 17, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The Arizona Diamondbacks and all of Major League Baseball honored the hard-working dads on Father’s Day with festive uniforms.

The D-backs traded in the Sedona Red for baby blue, as they donned special caps and socks in honor of the holiday.

Logos on the field were also painted blue for the occasion, while special Father’s Day bases and balls were used during the game.

The special uniforms are part of the league-wide holiday jerseys, which have already been on display this year for Mother’s Day and Memorial Day.

Arizona also honored the first 15,000 fans in attendance for Sunday’s game against the New York Mets with special edition Hawaiian shirts.

Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks seek series win vs. Mets

Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks seek series win vs. Mets

PHOENIX — Measurable rain fell Saturday in Phoenix for the first time in three months, much-welcomed relief for a very parched city. Luckily for the Diamondbacks, Paul Goldschmidt‘s drought ended a long time before then.

Goldschmidt, the Diamondbacks’ franchise icon and top-producing offensive player for several seasons, started the season in quite a dry spell, too. A slugger who has homered at least 33 times and driven in at least 110 runs three times since 2013, Goldschmidt inexplicably saw his average plunge to as low as .198 on May 22.

Not surprisingly, his team was faltering as he did. The Diamondbacks opened the season 21-8, but during a dreadful May in which they went 8-19, they slid to 26-26 on May 27.

Since then, there’s been little stopping Goldschmidt and little stopping the Diamondbacks, who have reclaimed the NL West lead by going 13-5 in their last 18 games heading into the finale of a four-game series with the New York Mets on Sunday.

Not surprisingly, Goldschmidt has been the man in the middle of it.

Still, Mets left-hander Steven Matz (3-4) managed to stop the Diamondbacks on Saturday night at Chase Field, limiting them to a run over 6 2-3 innings in a 5-1 New York victory. It was an anomaly of sorts because Arizona had won the first two games of the four-game series and the Mets had dropped four in a row and 12 of their previous 13.

However, Goldschmidt drove in the only Arizona run, giving him four RBIs in the series and 15 in his last 10 games, a stretch in which he’s hit six homers and raised his average to .261.

“It was a little bit of a slow night for us offensively,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “We did have some opportunities, but we couldn’t get a big hit.”

Or the kind of hits Goldschmidt has been giving them almost nightly.

Michael Conforto had a couple of big hits for the Mets, most importantly a three-run homer in the second inning off Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin (6-3), the third of Conforto’s career off the left-hander. Conforto also added an RBI double for a Mets offense that had scored three runs or fewer in 11 consecutive games.

“They need to take some confidence out of tonight. They did a really good job,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. “We’ve been getting on base more and more the last few games. We got the big hits to get the runners in and we need to keep building that momentum.”

Still, the Diamondbacks will go for the series win Sunday when they send right-hander Clay Buchholz (1-1) to the mound to oppose Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler (2-5).

“We’ve got to make a quick turnaround. (Sunday) is a day game we’ve got to digest this one and get it out of our system and be ready to play some baseball,” Lovullo said.

Buchholz sat out most of last season with the Philadelphia Phillies due to an elbow injury, then was released from his minor league contract by the Kansas City Royals in May. He hooked on with the Diamondbacks franchise shortly after that and has been a pleasant surprise by posting a 3.21 ERA in five starts, including allowing only five earned runs in 24 innings in his first four starts.

Buchholz’s last start was his roughest with Arizona, as he lasted only four innings Tuesday in a 13-8 Diamondbacks win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He allowed seven hits and six runs, five earned, in four innings.

Buchholz faced the Mets in his first start for Arizona, giving up one run on two hits in five innings of what became a 4-1 Mets victory at Citi Field on May 20. He is 0-1 with an 8.59 ERA in two career starts against the Mets, yielding 10 hits and seven runs in 7 1/3 innings.

Mets shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera gives him the most trouble, going 8-for-16 (.500) with two homers and two RBIs against him.

Wheeler last pitched Tuesday, giving up six runs and eight hits while walking four in 5 2/3 innings of an 8-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

“It’s not like they were killing him all over the park,” Callaway said. “It was a bloop here and a bloop there. Our starters have been so good, you want them to try to get out of their own jams.”

Wheeler is 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA in four career games against Arizona, giving up 25 hits but only six earned runs while striking out 20 and walking five in 25 1/3 innings.

Goldschmidt is 3-for-12 (.250) against him, while Chris Owings is 4-for-9 (.444).

Wheeler last faced the Diamondbacks on May 15, 2017 but didn’t figure in the decision of what became a 7-3 Arizona win after permitting only one run in six innings.

For Diamondbacks' Zack Godley, pitching is more about confidence than mechanics

For Diamondbacks' Zack Godley, pitching is more about confidence than mechanics

The Diamondbacks will have some difficult decisions to make with their starting rotation when Robbie Ray and Shelby Miller return from their rehabilitation stints.

Zack Godley isn’t making those decisions easy.

In the first three innings of Arizona’s 7-3 victory over the New York Mets on Friday, Godley pitched like a guy who eventually will be forced to the bullpen. He walked two batters, hit a third and nearly was knocked out in the second and third innings.

But after the Mets scored a run in the top of the third and had runners on second and third with no outs, Godley struck out the side. He allowed just two hits the rest of the way, and his final pitching line – 6 2/3 innings, five hits, eight strikeouts – reflected a pitcher who probably earned a rotation reprieve when Ray and Miller return.

“It was a grind. It was a struggle,” manager Torey Lovullo said Saturday. “What it told me is he’s a tough, tough man because when he needed to make pitches, he struck out the side. It shows me he’s tough and he’s not going to give in.”

The Diamondbacks have been working on Godley’s mechanics, trying to get his body to stay straight with home plate after his delivery rather than falling off toward first base.

But Godley said Saturday that the process of pitching can’t be more important than the conviction of pitching. And, he added, sometimes too much information is a bad thing.

“When you get on the mound all the stuff like thinking about my mechanics, thinking about what my arm is doing has to go out the window,” Godley said. “When you start thinking about all that stuff you get away from what you’re actually supposed to do, which is competing.

“The biggest thing for me was being able to get out of those jams early on, knowing I could get guys out even when guys were on base.”

Lovullo said the Diamondbacks have to strike a balance with Godley. Help him with his mechanics but don’t try to completely change what he does on the mound.

“Getting him on line and trying to stay on line through the entire delivery is something I feel is not possible because that’s just the way his body wants to go,” Lovullo said.

Boxberger usage

After closer Brad Boxberger pitched for a third straight night on June 6 and blew a save by allowing two earned runs in one inning of work, Lovullo said he would think twice about asking Boxberger to pitch three straight games again.

That’s why it pained the Diamondbacks manager to have to use Boxberger, who had pitched Thursday, in the ninth inning Friday when Arizona had a four-run lead but the Mets put two runners on with two outs against Jorge De La Rosa.

Lovullo said he would consider using Boxberger on Saturday in a save situation.

“He’s our closer, so as soon as it turns into a save, we’re going to get him,” Lovullo said. “But we were trying to stay away from him.”

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Red-hot Paul Goldschmidt has led Diamondbacks offense to power surge in June

Red-hot Paul Goldschmidt has led Diamondbacks offense to power surge in June

What humidor?

After a month of May in which runs were extremely hard to come by, no team in baseball has had a better offensive month of June than the Diamondbacks.

Entering play Saturday, the Diamondbacks had already scored 99 runs in 14 games in June, compared to 77 over 28 games in May. The club ranks among MLB’s best in runs (first), triples (first, 8), walks (first, 60), on-base percentage (first, .366), slugging percentage (second, .525), home runs (tied-second, 26), hits (third, 132) and batting average (third, .278).

All this from an offense that was among the worst in baseball over the first two months of the season. Of course, the uptick in offensive statistics means nothing if it’s not correlating to wins — which it is, as the Diamondbacks entered play having won seven of eight and were 11-3 in June.

“I think we have always been capable of doing this, and our track record in the past year and several months says this is who we are and what we do on a nightly basis,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “That’s what made the streak so awkward and frustrating for those three weeks. We just had a tough time squaring up the ball.

“I think this is really who we are and it continues to get defined every night as to what we’re capable of doing.”

So what changed from May to June for the Diamondbacks? Well, Paul Goldschmidt is a good place to start.

Goldschmidt hit rock bottom in May, posting a .144 average to go along with 35 strikeouts in 26 games. However, in June, Goldschmidt has already posted more RBIs (15) than he had hits (14) in May.

The perennial All-Star first baseman has registered a .456 average to go along with a 1.495 OPS (on-base plus slugging), 15 RBIs, seven home runs and 14 extra-base hits in just 14 games this month.

Goldschmidt’s power numbers have certainly taken flight, as he ranks in the top three in baseball in slugging percentage (second, .965) and isolated power (third, .509) in June.

Goldschmidt, who has raised his batting average from .198 on May 22 to .265 on June 16, said he isn’t sure whether the Diamondbacks just underachieved in the first two months, or if June is the universe’s way of evening things out for the club.

“We’re going to have to see how the rest of the year goes,” Goldschmidt said. “I don’t think we’re trying to hit homers. I think we’re hitting the ball better, which is going to result in more homers and more extra-base hits.

“I don’t know what the rest of the stats look like, but we’ve been swinging the bat better and hitting way more balls hard than the first two months of the season — especially that stretch where we weren’t scoring many runs at all.”

What’s changed for Goldschmidt has been his ability to barrel up the ball and wait for his pitches. Since June 1, Goldschmidt ranks third in baseball with an average exit velocity of 96 mph.

Goldschmidt also has seen 313 pitches in June entering Saturday’s games, which is 37 more than any other player.

Lovullo said he preaches patient at-bats to his hitters, and that Goldschmidt has been executing those plans of late.

“I know that sometimes he takes team at-bats and sometimes he takes until he gets a strike,” Lovullo said. “I know that he’s waiting it out. He’s seeing the ball well, he’s in a great hitting position, and that comes with a very dedicated two-strike approach. If you’re in a loaded hitting position, you’re going to see more pitches.”

But Goldschmidt isn’t the only Diamondbacks player having a coming out party in June. Outfielder David Peralta and infielder Ketel Marte have been following the first baseman’s example.

Among MLB leaders in weighted on-base average — or wOBA, a statistic used to measure a player’s total offensive contributions at the plate — Goldschmidt (second, .606), Peralta (seventh, .536) and Marte (10th, .516) all rank in the top 10 in June.

Peralta and Marte have also kept pace with Goldschmidt in the power department, as both rank in the top 10 in slugging percentage and isolated power in June.

Many pointed to Chase Field’s new humidor as the reason why the Diamondbacks posted such feeble offensive statistics in April and May. But the club posted nine home runs in its last five games entering Saturday, all at Chase Field.

Peralta said he made a decision not to let the presence of the humidor affect his approach at the plate this season.

“You can feel a difference sometimes,” Peralta said. “But if you get that in your mind, you’re going to screw up everything. You’ll say, ‘Okay, the ball’s not jumping like it should be, so I’m going to swing harder,’ and now you’re going to screw up your swing.

“If you barrel the ball, the ball is going to go. … I don’t think the humidor is going to change that every time. We’re still winning games. You don’t have to hit home runs to win games.”

That’s true. But as the Diamondbacks can attest this month, it certainly doesn’t hurt.