Arizona Diamondbacks: Season opens with dramatic walk-off victory
The character and make-up of the Arizona Diamondbacks displayed in their opening day win could have a residual effect.
After their dramatic, opening day victory, there could be something to say about the character of this edition of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Sure, this is only one game in early April, and the marathon awaits this team like a journey through a dense forest. One check in the timeline of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 6-5 victory over the San Francisco Giants before 49,016 at Chase Field Sunday afternoon clearly showed a certain resiliency. Down by three to Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner, who was perfect for 5.1 innings and running out of innings, there was a certain transformation of the Arizona Diamondbacks which could be pronounced.
The Diamondbacks’ response from deficits of 3-0, 4-3 and 5-4 to pull out this win in the bottom of the ninth inning could speak to the future. Though the contest was but one in a protracted season, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt told Venom Strikes that the way this game was won needs to be replicated.
"There are so many good teams that we have to do this if we want to be competitive. What happened shows how hard this team works and even if we didn’t win, we put together quality at-bats and showed we can be competitive."
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Afterward, manager Torey Lovullo put events of the day with in perspective. The fact that the Diamondbacks were down to their final time at-bat addressed the collective ability of adherence to a program laid in spring training, and the nature of the players surrounding the program.
With two-outs in the ninth and down by one run, Jeff Mathis laced a double, scored the tying run on a pinch-hit single from Daniel Descalso, and then Chris Owings delivered the walk-off single.
If Goldschmidt talked about the need to remain on task each night, others pointed out to the character displayed. Center-fielder A. J. Pollock returned to the lineup with a vengeance and went 3-for-5, including a two-run off of Bumgarner in the sixth to deadlock this game at 3-3. Later, Pollock scored the tying the run in the eighth and singled in front of the game-winner from Owings.
For his part, Pollock seemed to buy into “the temperament dialog,” and indicated to Venom Strikes that the marathon only just began.
"What we did showed character. It’s really tough to string those hits together, but as the game went along, we were super pumped. Look, this was only the first one, and now we have to get ready for the next one."
The win was the first for Lovullo as a full-time, major-league manager and lasting. With several family members at the ballpark from his native southern California and the way the Diamondbacks pulled this out, Lovullo told Venom Strikes the moment would linger.
"I’ll remember this one for the rest of my life. That includes the entire game and this could not have been constructed any other better. This win came from within the walls of the clubhouse and set the tone. This game was brick one in the foundation."
After an off-day Monday, the series with the San Francisco Giants continues Tuesday night. That’s when lefty Patrick Corbin (5-13, 5.15 for 24 starts) takes on righty Johnny Cueto (18-5, 2.79 ERA in 32 starts). For Wednesday night, look for right-hander Taijuan Walker (8-11, 3.60 ERA in 25 starts for Seattle) to start against lefty Matt Moore 6-5, 4.08 ERA in 12 starts for the Giants).
For the series finale on Thursday night, lefty Robbie Ray (8-15, 4.90 ERA for 32 starts) takes on right-hander Jeff Samardzija (11-13, 4.96 ERA in 32 starts).
Next: Diamondbacks' season preview
Then, the Cleveland Indians move in for a three-game, weekend set.