If there’s been one calling card one steady dependable thing the Diamondbacks could count on this season it’s defense. The starting pitching may falter the offense may be hot and cold and the bullpen may get the yips at the worst moments. But thanks to a stellar defense the Diamondbacks pulled out a come-from-behind 9-8 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in front of 18733 at Chase Field on Wednesday. With the win the Diamondbacks secured their first series sweep — albeit in just a two-game series — in a month. They also stayed within five games of first in the National League West keeping pace with the hot Los Angeles Dodgers. Starter Randall Delgado wasn’t his sharpest handing the Rays a 3-0 lead in the first inning on four hits three of which were doubles. Delgado calmed down thereafter but was aided significantly by his defense which turned three double plays in the first four innings and six total a new franchise record. Four times the Diamondbacks came up with a double play after putting the leadoff batter aboard. Few of them were easy. Shortstop Didi Gregorius came up with a gem in the hole to initiate a 4-6-3 double play in the fourth and right fielder Cody Ross doubled up Matt Joyce trying for second on a flyout to the warning track in the third. Finally with one down in the ninth and the go-ahead run at second second baseman Aaron Hill fielded a grounder up the middle and flipped it to Gregorius for the force out at second and Gegorius fired it to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to end the game. While the defense has been there all year — Arizona’s .988 fielding percentage led the majors entering the game — the offense has been more up and down. But they had 12 hits and scored at least six runs in back-to-back games for just the eighth time this season. The Diamondbacks also benefited from not having to face reigning American League Pitcher of the Month Chris Archer for very long as the rookie phenom was pulled in the second for precautionary reasons with right forearm stiffness. But not everything could go so glowingly. After staying out of the headlines for weeks the Diamondbacks bullpen garnered unwanted attention in the seventh. This time it wasn’t Heath Bell J.J. Putz or David Hernandez each with five blown saves to their names. Instead it was three of the steadier bullpen arms the Diamondbacks have — Josh Collmenter Will Harris and recent acquisition Joe Thatcher — blowing a 7-4 lead by giving up four runs in the seventh. Arizona went down in order the following inning but the pendulum swung back around in the eighth. Rays reliever Fernando Rodney’s control was as crooked as his cap walking two and giving up a pinch-hit single to Gerardo Parra to load the bases with one out. Martin Prado followed with a go-ahead two-run single to right and finished 4 for 4 with 4 RBIs including a game-tying two-run homer in third.
Diamondbacks defense lends assist in 9-8 win over Rays
Arizona Republic | Aug 8