Arizona Diamondbacks: Linking at-bats remain key to success
By Mark Brown
Utility player Daniel Descalso delivered the game-winning single in the 11th inning Sunday.
Good teams usually take advantage and jump on the opponent’s mistakes. In their current run toward the top of the National League West Division, the Arizona Diamondbacks have not had many opportunities to consider an opponent’s miscue and spring all over the mistake.
Over the course of the season, the powerful Diamondbacks offense has taken care of that and rarely demonstrated the need to jump on an opponent during a critical part of nay game.
That happened Sunday and two at-bats in the fourth inning could demonstrate the Diamondbacks ability to both blow way the competition with a strong offense as well as go after critical errors.
With the game scoreless in the fourth, Philadelphia Phillies’ starter Jeremy Hellickson hung a breaking ball to lead-off hitter Nick Ahmed, who promptly drilled the mistake into the left field corner for a double. Paul Goldschmidt followed with a single to left on a ball not hit terribly hard. Third base coach Tony Perezchica gave Ahmed the green light and, taking advantage of left fielder Cameron Perkins’ approach to the ball and throw to the plate, Ahmed slid in the first Arizona run of the game.
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In the seventh, the Phillies tied this one on a RBI single from pinch hitter Howie Kendrick, but the Diamondbacks responded. Then, another example of capitalizing on both familiarity and mistakes.
In the end, Daniel Descalso’s two-out single in the 11th inning scored Goldschmidt from second and the Diamondbacks came away with a 2-1 victory over the Phillies before 28,179 in Chase Field Sunday afternoon. In the process, the Diamondbacks increased their season mark to 48-28, 20 games above .500, but remain 2.5 games behind the blistering Los Angeles Dodgers, who have won 10 straight.
At the same time, the Diamondbacks have maintained pace. With the win Sunday, Arizona captured 11 of their last 13 and 14 of their last 17 games.
In gaining the win Sunday, the Diamondbacks defined their mentality and took advantage. After his fourth career walk-off game winner, Descalso told Venom Strikes that these kinds of games are won in spring training.
"“Going back to the first hitter’s meeting we had in Salt River, we wanted to link at-bats together,” he said. “We want to feed on the hitter both ahead of you and behind. That was pretty clear (Sunday). In that situation (in the 11th inning), I’m trying to hit the ball hard. You can’t rush things and get too excited. Slow it down and don’t let the moment dedicate your at-bat.”"
The ability to link consecutive at-bats proved important in this win.
The hitter ahead of Descalso was Chris Owings, who grinded out a 12-pitch at-bat and walked. That was behind a two-out single from Goldschmidt, and put the winning run in scoring position. That walk by Phillies reliever Edubray Ramos was a result from a familiarity Owings had the pitcher. In Saturday night’s game, Owings faced Ramos and ground to third. This time, Owings explained to Venom Strikes that he was ready.
"“I faced that guy before so I knew what he had,” he said. “I’m just trying to get a good at-bat. I was able to get the walk and (Descalso) got the big hit.”"
Lost in the extra-innings event was the effort turned in by starter Randall Delgado. Giving the Diamondbacks five shutout frames, Delgado was right around the plate all afternoon. In throwing 75 pitches, he hit a first pitch strike to eight of the first 11 hitters he faced and finished with praise from Lovullo, who told Venom Strikes that Delgado clearly answered the bell.
"“(Randall) did what we asked him to do,” he said. “He gave us five strong innings. Right now, he’s locked in, and can execute three quality pitches at any time We’re very fortunate to have a pitcher like Randall either as a starter or in the bullpen.”"
The four-game set with the Phillies concludes Monday afternoon. That’s when right-hander Zack Greinke (8-4 3.14 ERA) takes on Phillies’ rookie Nick Nivetta (4.46).
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The St. Louis Cardinals follow with three and the Colorado Rockies conclude the current home stand with a three-game series this weekend.
The Diamondbacks then head to Los Angeles for three with the Dodgers and then break for the All-Star game after three against the Cincinnati Reds July 7-9 at home.