Arizona Diamondbacks: Versatile Herrmann sets tone for another victory
By Mark Brown
The Arizona Diamondbacks are now 21 games above the .500 mark.
In some cases, roster spots can be won on versatility That’s especially true in baseball and given the limit of a 25-man roster, players, like Chris Herrmann of the Arizona Diamondbacks, prove value by simply playing more than one position.
These days, Herrmann appears locked as catcher to lefty Robbie Ray, but proved his value by playing left field, center field, first base and behind the plate. In Monday’s eventually 6-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies before 20,765 in Chase Field, Herrmann, in the leadoff spot, clearly set the tone with his first career lead-off home run.
In a revamp line-for this rare Monday afternoon game, manager Torey Lovullo sat first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, second baseman Brandon Drury and centerfielder Gregor Blanco. From that one-hole, Herrmann delivered from the start and told Venom Strikes afterward that the home run represents one of his best memories
"“Pretty sweet,” he smiled. “Never lead off in a major-league game, did it a few times the minors. In the hitter’s meeting, we talked about being patient. We wanted (Phillies’ starter Nick Pivetta) to throw pitches and get deep in counts. When you’re leading off, you tend to see more pitches, I was able to get a good swing on it and drive it (in the first inning)”"
Herrmann’s seventh of the season broke a personal season-high in bombs. That was set last season with six, and he will likely surpass his professional best of 10 homers. That was set with New Britain in the Minnesota organization during the 2013 season. For now, Herrmann’s ability to be a productive lead-off hitter gives the Diamondbacks another lethal dimension in an all-ready powerful offense.
After taking three of four from the Phillies, Arizona gained its fifth straight series win in Chase Field and ninth overall. Those nine series at home matched the entire season total in 2016. The victory propelled the Diamondbacks to a mark of 49-28, and that’s 21 games over .500. They did not claim their 49th win of the season a year ago until Aug. 15, and their 29th home win until Sept. 15.
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Coming into play Tuesday night, the Diamondbacks are 29-10 in Chase Field and only the Los Angeles Dodgers, at 32-10, have a better home record in the majors.
If Herrmann delivered the initial salvo, starter Zack Greinke seemed to fall right in place. After allowing two, first inning singles, the former Cy Young Award winner settled and retired, at one point, 12 straight, but hit the wall in the fifth inning. That’s when he walked three and allowed a single that resulted in the Phillies lone run of the game. By the time he left after five frames, Greinke’s pitch count at 102 was elevated and forced Lovullo to go to the bull pen.
Afterward, Greinke told Venom Strikes that, in the fifth inning, his execution declined.
"“I felt good and wanted to attack hitters,” he said. “I just lost control there in the last inning.”"
Still, the outing was considered successful. With the win, Greinke is now 7-0 with a 2.68 ERA in nine, Chase Field starts this season. Gaining the victory, which pushes his season mark to 9-4, Greinke posts his fifth consecutive home win and that ties the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela and the Dodgers’ Alex Wood for the longest streak this season.
Following Monday’s game, the Diamondbacks optioned reliever Silvino Bracho to Triple-A Reno. In nine games with Arizona, the right-hander was 0-0 with a 5.79 ERA.
Before Tuesday’s home game with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Diamondbacks will announce a corresponding move to bring their current roster back to 25 players.
The St. Louis Cardinals move into the desert for their only visit to Chase Field this season.
In the opener Tuesday night, it’s right-hander Taijuan Walker (6-3, 3.43 ERA) facing righty Carlos Martinez (6-6, 2.87). On Wednesday night, look for righty Zack Godley (3-1, 2.53) to counter righty Adam Wainwright (7-5, 5.75). In the series finale Thursday afternoon, lefty Patrick Corbin (6-7, 4.89) faces righty Lance Lynn (5-5, 3.86).
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Then, the Colorado Rockies move in for the weekend and a three-game series.