Historically, the Arizona Diamondbacks had difficulty keeping the Jays’ Edwin Encarnacion in the ball park.
One of the strengths of right-hander Zack Godley of the Arizona Diamondbacks is his ability to keep the ball down and make hitters hit his pitch. Despite traversing through a commuter run between Triple-A Reno and Chase Field this season, the Arizona Diamondbacks have kept Godley on the front burner as a trouble shooter.
In employing that role of an emergency starter, Godley seems to fill in when needed, and now, has taken the place of Shelby Miller in the rotation. In facing the lethal Toronto Blue Jays’ offense in the opener of a two-game set Tuesday night, Godley’s mission appeared simple. Keep the ball down to a team which is second to the Baltimore Orioles in homers among all Major League teams.
While the goal was admirable, the execution fell short. In grooving a 2-1 pitch down Broadway to Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays’ first baseball quickly drove the pitch into the left field bleachers with two-on in the third, and that three-run blast carried the visiting Blue Jays to a 5-1 before 26,626 Tuesday night in Chase Field.
Not only did Encarnacion, led the majors in RBIs coming into this one (now with 84), his history in Chase Field borders on the monumental. On May 21, 2010, the 33-year-old hit three homers in a game in Chase, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have had difficulty keeping him in the ball park. Including his game-clinching homer Tuesday night, the native of La Romana, Dominion Republic is hitting .480 (12-for-25) with eight homers and 15 RBIs in his last seven games in Chase Field and this dates back to 2009. That’s when Encarnacion was acquired by the Jays from Cincinnati as part of the Scott Rolen deal on July 21, 2009.
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Quickly, Encarnacion went to work. In the third, singles from Devon Travis and Josh Donaldson put runners on first and second with no out. Then, the first of two mistakes Godley admitted and that cost the right-hander the game. With the count at 2-1, Encarnacion drove a curve half-way up in the left field bleachers, and that turned Godley into the losing pitcher.
“I had a couple of bad pitches, and they hit them,” Godley said. “The curve to Encarnacion was a big mistake, and so was the pick-off play. There are all good hitters, one through nine, and they took advantage.”
The pick-off play Godley referenced occurred in the fifth. After Travis singled to center, Godley threw a pick-off attempt behind first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, and down the right field line. Travis ended up on third, and Donaldson followed with an RBI single. That effectively ended Godley’s night.
“Zack elevated his curve and, at this level, you cannot do that,” said manager Chip Hale. “He threw too many high breaking pitches, and that cost him. Our report on Toronto indicated this is a team which makes you throw strikes, but you have to keep the ball down to these guys.”
The lone run in this game for the Arizona Diamondbacks transpired in the opening inning. After lead-off double from Jean Segura, the second baseman moved to third on a grounder, and scored when Goldschmidt grounded out to first.
In this one, the offense seemed to take the night off. From the fifth inning through the ninth, the Arizona Diamondbacks managed three base runners and only one hit. That was a lead-off double from Brandon Drury in the seventh.
The Arizona Diamondbacks close out their current home stand with a Wednesday afternoon matinee against the Toronto Blue Jays (12:40 p.m.). Look for lefty Patrick Corbin to get the start for the Diamondbacks, and right-hander Marcus Stroman receives the nod for Toronto.
Then, the Arizona Diamondbacks hit the road for a 10-game trip. This includes three in Cincinnati, four with the Brewers in Milwaukee and three against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
The latest accolade
The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association (MLBPAA) announced Paul Goldschmidt as the 2016 Heart and Hustle Award winner for the Arizona Diamondbacks. This award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game. The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.
“There is simply not another star player in all of baseball who, every day, runs as hard as Paul on every ball that leaves his bat,” Dave McKay, Arizona Diamondbacks first base coach, said in a statement. “He pushes himself and his teammates to be better each day.”
The previous overall winners are David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio (2006, 2007), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols (2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011), Mike Trout (2012), Dustin Pedroia (2013), Josh Harrison (2014) and Anthony Rizzo (2015).
The final winner will be announced on November 15,2016 at the 17th Annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City. This event is the primary fundraiser for the series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics. These clinics impact more than 15,000 children each year at 150 clinics.