Diamondbacks Capitalize on Opportunities, Edge Brewers for Seventh Win in Eight Games

Diamondbacks Brewers

Diamondbacks 2, Brewers 1

PHOENIX, Sep. 2 — Emmanuel Rivera went 3-for-3, including the game-tying double, leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 2–1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers Friday night. Zach Davies and five relievers scattered nine hits through the game, stranding 11 runners as they limited the Brewers to one run. The win is the seventh in eight games for the surging Diamondbacks, while the loss marks the third in four games for the Brewers.

Brewers starter Eric Lauer traded zeros with Diamondbacks starter Zach Davies for the first four innings. Lauer mowed through the Diamondbacks lineup, giving up only one baserunner — one that was erased by a subsequent double play. This came in the bottom of the second, when Rivera — the designated hitter — singled to right. However, center fielder Jake McCarthy hit a liner straight to Brewers second baseman Kolten Wong, who snapped a throw to first before Rivera could dive back.

Davies, on the other hand, gave up at least one baserunner in every inning. In the first, first baseman Rowdy Tellez blooped a two-out single to left-center. Right fielder Hunter Renfroe stranded him with a strikeout. In the second, back-to-back one-out singles by third baseman Jace Peterson and designated hitter Keston Hiura put runners on the corners. Davies, however, caught Hiura leaning and picked him off. The batter during the pickoff — catcher Omar Narvaez — flied to center, wasting a golden opportunity. A two-out single in the third by shortstop Willy Adames was rendered useless when Tellez grounded to third. One inning later, a two-out walk by Peterson and single to right by Hiura put runners on the corners. Narvaez could not capitalize, instead grounding to first unassisted.

Diamondbacks, Brewers Get on the Board

The top of the fifth started off well for Davies once again, as center fielder Garrett Mitchell and Wong both struck out. Adames, however, kept the frame alive with a single to left. Davies, who is gradually being returned to a full workload, was on a strict pitch count. Consequently, Adames was his last batter no matter what. In came Kyle Nelson, his first game back from injury. He uncharacteristically struggled with command, walking his first three batters and forcing in a run. After a mound visit, however, Nelson settled down and struck out Peterson to limit the damage.

Manager Torey Lovullo said Nelson’s control struggles were from being “amped up and trying to get in there and get the job done.” Lovullo also noted, “As the outing went on, he was starting to bring the ball closer to the zone. But I think he was charged up and excited to be back. His next outing will be a lot better.”

Now trailing, 1–0, the Diamondbacks got to Lauer in the bottom of the fifth. Lovullo pointed out, “There were some up-out-over mistakes.” The first came against first baseman Christian Walker, who roped a double down the left-field line. Rivera came up next, and, while trying to advance Walker to third, he belted a double to the corner in left-center field. Walker scored easily to tie the game. McCarthy gave the Diamondbacks the lead when he followed with a single up the middle. Left fielder Stone Garrett kept the hit parade going with a single to left, but a 4–6–3 double play groundout by the next batter — right fielder Corbin Carroll — shifted the momentum. Shortstop Wilmer Difo ended the inning with a soft line drive back to the mound.

Closing Out the Victory

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Reyes Moronta, Kevin Ginkel, Joe Mantiply, and Ian Kennedy each threw one inning of scoreless relief. All but Mantiply allowed one baserunner. Each was a harmless single. Kennedy ended the game with a 4–6 fielder’s choice groundout, giving the Diamondbacks a 2–1 victory as he notched his 10th save.

Postgame Reflections

Zach Davies “felt good,” smiling as he said so after the game. “I felt like I commanded my pitches, everything I was throwing. Definitely threw way too many early and got pulled from the game before I want to be. 90 pitches or 4 2/3 (innings) isn’t the way to go. So (if I) throw less pitches, try not to go for the strikeout at times and get guys out, I’ll be able to stay in the game longer.”

Davies was not at all upset at being pulled. “I’m a competitor, so I want to be out there. But I get the game situation and managerial move right there. So I’m not upset. I’m more upset for the fact that I didn’t make a better pitch against Willie (Adames) that pulled me out of the game. Giving up the hit takes me out instead of making a quality pitch. He either gets out or he gives you another opportunity to get him out. So that was really the only thing for me.”

Emmanuel Rivera

Rivera, who came in exchange for struggling pitcher Luke Weaver in a deadline-day deal with the Kansas City Royals, has blossomed with the Diamondbacks. Since arriving, he has slashed .293/.398/.587 (22-for-75) with seven doubles, five home runs, 13 RBI, 10 walks, three hit-by-pitches, and 18 runs scored. In addition, he has yet to hit into a double play. Overall, this gives him a .422 wOBA and 7.8 wRAA. About Rivera, Lovullo remarked, “He’s a very engaged player (who) understands what each at-bat is asking for.” Later, he added, “We saw him a couple times in spring training. He had a long home run off of us and had some very, very good at bats….

“(We) could see that there were some tools, and he just needed to get an opportunity. He’s had an opportunity to go out there and play consistently, getting the reps that he wants. And he’s taken advantage of it. Our scouting department targeted certain guys at the trade deadline did an unbelievable job. They deserve a lot of the credit. But he’s still a young player. He’s still growing and learning. We’ve got to make sure that we’re not we’re not satisfied. He’ll be the first to tell you that he wants to keep growing and learning. It’s gonna be fun. So far, so good.”

“He’s come in and slugged right away,” observed third baseman Josh Rojas. “That was a great addition to the team. It was something we needed, another power bat in the lineup. He’s done both — he’s done power, had three hits tonight, and drove in a run. (Emmanuel) has had some big hits for us when we need them. He’s another tough bat that you add to the lineup, and he gives us a little more depth. Great addition, so far.”

The September Stretch

Rojas added that winning seven out of eight “feels good.” He explained further, “Everybody was aware that when we started this last stretch, we’re going to be playing quite a few teams that might come in here with the mentality of winning games to secure their wildcard spot. Our goal is to make a run of our own. And if not, at least take away any run that another team’s trying to come in here and make, whether it’s here on the road…. Hopefully, we can keep doing that.”

The September schedule is not easy. After two more against the Brewers, the Diamondbacks hit the road for three games against the San Diego Padres and, after a much-needed off-day, three against the Colorado Rockies. They will return home for seven games — three against the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers and four against the Padres — before a tough five-game series at Dodger Stadium. Two of the five form a double header. After three at home against the San Francisco Giants, closing out the home part of their schedule, they will play two on the road against the AL-leading Houston Astros. They will conclude their season with three against the Giants and three more against the Brewers.

All but the Rockies and Giants are in the playoff hunt. It will be important to maintain their focus against these teams as well, something Rojas understands. “We (don’t) approach any game differently. Whether it’s a team with a losing record or it’s a team with 90 wins like the Dodgers, you’re trying to win ballgames. If you lose to either one, it’s a letdown; if you win either one, it’s a victory. So it doesn’t matter if you have the best record in baseball or the worst, we’re trying to win ballgames.”

Looking Ahead

Nelson (2–0) ended up with the win, while Lauer (10–6) took a tough loss. The Diamondbacks (63–68) and Brewers (69–62) play the third game of their four-game set Saturday evening. Madison Bumgarner (6–13, 4.87 ERA) and Corbin Burnes (9–6, 2.84 ERA) will start for the Diamondbacks and Brewers, respectively, in a lefty-righty matchup. First pitch will be at 5:10 pm Arizona Time.

Bumgarner will be looking to turn his recent performance around. Since a four-hit, eight-inning performance against the Washington Nationals on July 29 — one where he held them to two earned runs — Bumgarner has given up no fewer than five runs in any of his six subsequent starts. The Diamondbacks have gone 2–4 in those games, causing Bumgarner to call himself “the weak link” in the rotation.

Main Photo:

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Players/managers mentioned:

Emmanuel Rivera, Zach Davies, Eric Lauer, Jake McCarthy, Kolten Wong, Rowdy Tellez, Hunter Renfroe, Jace Peterson, Keston Hiura, Omar Narvaez, Willy Adames, Garrett Mitchell, Kyle Nelson, Torey Lovullo, Christian Walker, Stone Garrett, Corbin Carroll, Wilmer Difo, Reyes Moronta, Kevin Ginkel, Joe Mantiply, Ian Kennedy, Luke Weaver, Josh Rojas, Madison Bumgarner, Corbin Burnes