Catcher Chris Iannetta picked up five RBIs in helping the Arizona Diamondbacks to their ninth straight home victory.
When the Arizona Diamondbacks refused to pay catcher Welington Castillo’s $7 million asking price for the 2017 season, the catcher simply walked. For all practical purposes, the departure of Castillo signaled an end to any offense generated from the catching department.
Sure, Chris Herrmann, as Castillo’s back-up, hit a career-high .284 in 56 games last season, but his stature was considered part-time at best. In the off-season, general manager Mile Hazen then went for defense behind the plate. Signing veterans Jeff Mathis as Chris Iannetta, the hope was the pair would at least be competitive at the plate.
There was no question as their combined defensive abilities, but once these players came on-board, the fear was the Diamondbacks’ offense would drop off dramatically from behind the plate.
While Mathis has been an offensive liability, and hitting .158 coming into Friday’s home game with Milwaukee, Iannetta has been the opposite. In slamming a go-ahead, two-run home run in fifth Thursday afternoon, that represented Iannetta’s eight homer of the season and that’s tied for third best on the team. Later in the sixth, the veteran catcher cleared the bases with a three-run double and, overall, collected seven RBIs in the Diamondbacks’ 15-3 victory over the visiting San Diego Padres before 21,340.
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The win, the ninth in a row at home, set a franchise mark most consecutive home victories. The triumph also help record a sweep of the Padres, and that’s the fourth sweep of an opponent this season. The 15 runs are a season-high for the Diamondbacks and that is also the most runs Arizona scored on a game in over three years.
Not only did Iannetta guide the win over San Diego, he also set a personal mark. The seven RBIs was one better than his previous a career-best. That came when Iannetta was playing for the Colorado Rockies and he recorded six RBIs in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 28, 2011. The seven RBIs is the most for a catcher in Arizona history.
The highlight day Thursday for Iannetta was not an aberration. Of his previous seven home runs this season, three came in the eighth innng or later. At the core, Iannetta told Venom Strikes, is the recognition that there is a place for each player on this team.
"It’s really about a chance to contribute. I know I will not be ‘the guy,’ and I’m not trying to do too much. I’ve been working with the hitting coaches and made a few adjustments. I’ve always been able to see the ball well, but now, my timing is better."
When Yasmany Tomas landed on the DL with right groin tendinitis, manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes he has been thinking about juggling a predominately left-handed hitting outfield to face left-handed pitching. On Thursday, he put Iannetta in the two-hole ahead of Paul Goldschmidt. After his career-best seven RBIs, Iannetta told Venom Strikes of the benefits.
"Goldschmidt is such an elite player that I knew I would get something to hit. Sure, it was great to hit ahead of the one the best players in the game."
Left from the lightning of Iannetta’s bat was effort turned in by starter Patrick Corbin, who picked up his fifth win to go along with six losses. Struggling through a two-run, first inning, Corbin settled down and allowed the Padres only one run until he lifted with two outs in the sixth. By that time, Iannetta engineered an increasingly dangerous offense and the Diamondbacks went on to pound out 15 hits, one short of their season mark set three times.
Prior to Thursday’s game, the Diamondbacks placed right-hander Zack Greinke on paternity leave. By agreement between the players and management, Greinke can leave the team between one and three days. He was replaced on the 25-man roster by reliever Silvino Bracho.
The NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers visit Chase Field for the weekend.
In the series opener Friday night, right-hander Randall Delgado (1-1, 3.24 ERA) gets the start and draws righty Zack Davies (6-3, 4.69) as his mound opponent.
On Saturday, look for righty Zack Godley (1-1, 2.39) to take on righty Junior Guerra (1-0, 1.83). For the home stand and series finale Sunday afternoon, lefty Robbie Ray (6-3, 2.85) faces former Diamondback Chase Anderson (5-1, 2.94).
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Then, the Diamondbacks vacate the desert on an eight-game, three city trip. Stops include two in Detroit, three in Philadelphia and three with the Rockies in Denver. Arizona returns to Chase Field on Friday June 23 to face the Philadelphia Phillies.