SAN FRANCISCO – Before Thursday’s game, manager Chip Hale cited the starting pitching as a significant reason for his team’s recent success. Coming into the final game of a 10-game road trip, the Diamondbacks won five of six, and starters Robbie Ray and Zack Grienke in particular, were identified as key contributors.
In this progression, Hale wanted right-hander Shelby Miller, Thursday’s starter, to follow with a solid effort and stay competitive. Better said than done, because Miller literally walked his way out making any important contribution. After walking the bases loaded in the third and walking in a run, Miller left without retiring a hitter in the inning. For two innings plus of work, Miller threw 55 pitches (23 for strikes) and turned in his fourth, straight sub-par outing.
Still, the Diamondbacks picked up their beleaguered starter, and pulled out 6-2 victory over the Giants before 41,052, the 416th consecutive, regular season sell-out in AT&T Park. With the win, the Diamondbacks extend their winning streak to five, and move over the .500 mark for the first time this season. This was the first ever four-game sweep by the Diamondbacks in San Francisco. Arizona swept the Giants in a four-game set only once, and that was Sept. 15-18, 2008 in Chase Field.
From the Giants perspective, misery continued. The Diamondbacks sweep was only the second, four-game sweep by an opponent since AT&T Park opened in 2000. That sweep was by the Cincinnati Reds from June 26-29, 2014.
The victory vindicated Miller, who could not get out of that troublesome third inning. At the same time, the ability to vanquish the Giants in four straight here seem to point the Diamondbacks in the right direction. While things are going well right, Miller only wished he had a hand in the success.
“I’m struggling a little right now but excited how the team picked me up,” Miller said afterward. “My fast ball command (Thursday) was terrible, and I’m trying to be a little too fine. I’m trying to throw the perfect strike, and what’s happening right now, it’s tough to explain. I’ll watch video and figure out what’s wrong.”
Following Miller’s exit and the score tie at 2-2, Yasmany Tomas took Giants’ starter Johnny Cueto deep into the left bleachers for his third homer of the season. The blast, with one out in the fourth, carried an estimated 441 feet. With a superb outing, Tyler Wagner, in relief of Miller, held the Giants in check. In the process, Wagner picked up his first major league win and was given Hale’s dugout lineup card as a souvenir.
After Miller walked Hunter Pence to force in a run in the disastrous third inning and close the Diamondbacks lead to 2-1, Wagner entered the game. Noted for a sharp sinker, Wagner handled Brandon Belt on a double play, with one run scoring, and retired Brandon Crawford on a grounder to first.
“When I came in, I’m just trying to limit things,” Wagner said. “I wanted a ground ball, double-play and trying for that. I’m in a good situation. The experience I had in spring training was great, and know I belong here.”
The Diamondbacks acquired Wagner from the Milwaukee Brewers, along with infielder Jean Segura in an off-season deal, and this past spring training was the first Wagner participated in a major league camp. One of the last cuts in spring training and then recalled from AAA Reno on April 18, Wagner clearly showed his value Thursday and went a strong five innings. In the process, he limited the Giants to just two base runners. These were harmless singles by Matt Duffy with one out in the fourth, and a one-out single by Crawford in the sixth,
The Diamondbacks then broke this one open in the ninth. A three-run rally was highlighted by a two-run double from Jean Segura off the right field fence, and the Diamondbacks were off to complete their historic sweep at AT&T.
The first time may have been dismissed. When David Peralta was hit a by pitch in the eighth inning Thursday by Giants’ reliever Josh Osich in the second straight game, there was a response. After Peralta was nailed on the right fore-arm by Osich in the ninth inning during Wednesday’s game, he was struck again by an Osich pitched ball in the eighth inning Thursday. This time, Peralta reacted. Yelling out to the mound, Peralta took a few steps toward Osich, and both benches emptied.
After order was restored, Osich was ejected by umpire Bill Miller, the crew chief. At the same time, plate umpire Pat Hoberg warned both benches.
“I was upset because (Osich) was throwing 96, 97 (miles per hour) and inside,” Peralta said. “But, look, it’s over and time to turn the page. I’m over this.”
When he turned to the mound, Peralta indicated Osich said nothing, made no gestures, and simply said afterward, “I missed my spots.”
While the Diamondbacks have been known to retaliate, their response was calm. Reliever Daniel Hudson came in behind Wagner, and retired the Giants in order in the eighth. For the ninth, Evan Marshall walked Brandon Crawford, the lead-off hitter in the inning. Then, Angel Pagan slapped into a double play and Duffy grounded to short to end the game.
FOR THE WEEKEND AND BEYOND
Following their 7-3 road trip, the Diamondbacks return to Chase Field. They open a 10-game home stand Friday night with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
To open the series, lefty Patrick Corbin (1-1, 2.75 ERA) gets the ball from manager Chip Hale, and takes on lefty Jonathan Niese (2-0, 3.50 ERA) at 6:40 p.m. For Saturday’s 5:10 start, look for righty Rubby De La Rosa (1-3, 8.44 ERA) to start against right-hander Juan Nicasio (2-1, 4.30 ERA). On Saturday, the Diamondbacks will give-away A. J. Pollock bobble heads to the first 20,000 fans. The series concludes with a Sunday matinee at 1:10 p.m. This one features lefty Robbie Ray (1-0, 1.96 ERA) against Bucs’ lefty Francisco Liriano (1-1, 4.11 ERA).
Following the Pirates, the St. Louis Cardinals come in for a four-game set. The Red Birds are followed by the Rockies for three, and then the Diamondbacks hit the road for a nine-game trip to Miami, Atlanta and Colorado.