Diamondbacks Clobber Nationals, 18-7
PHOENIX, Aug 3rd – Eduardo Escobar had three hits, including two home runs and seven RBI, as the Arizona Diamondbacks whipped the visiting Washington Nationals Saturday night in Phoenix. The third baseman established a new single-game RBI mark for his career.
In the previous game, the Diamondbacks managed only one hit against the struggling Joe Ross – and that came from their pitcher, Alex Young. They seemed to take out all their frustrations on Saturday against three-time All-Star Stephen Strasburg and a host of relievers, although they were already trailing when they first came to bat.
Nationals Jump on Ray Early, Diamondbacks Respond Quickly
Robbie Ray, who some say is the new Diamondbacks ace since the departure of Zack Greinke, started for the Diamondbacks. He ran into some trouble early, as fleet-footed shortstop Trea Turner led off the game with an infield single to second. Right fielder Adam Eaton followed with a triple to the right field corner, giving the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Third baseman Anthony Rendon then lined a shot to left field that David Peralta snagged in a diving fashion. Eaton tagged up and scored on the highlight-reel catch. The catch, however, seemed to settle Ray down, as he induced two consecutive grounders to second, ending the frame.
The Diamondbacks responded in the bottom of the first. Right fielder Jarrod Dyson struck out, but then center fielder Ketel Marte walked, bringing Escobar to the plate. He smashed a towering drive to right that landed halfway up the right field bleachers, tying the game at two. The next two batters – left fielder David Peralta and first baseman Christian Walker – grounded to second and struck out, respectively, ending the first.
Diamondbacks Take the Lead
Ray faced four batters in the second, with his only blemish coming when he hit center fielder Victor Robles with a 1-2 pitch with two out. Shortstop Nick Ahmed gave the Diamondbacks a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the inning with a one-out solo home run to dead center. A groundout by catcher Alex Avila and a strikeout by Ray made that the only tally in the half-inning.
After Ray sat the Nationals down in order in the top of the third, the Diamondbacks extended the lead during their turn at bat. Dyson led off with a fly to left for the first out, but Marte singled to right to put some more pressure on Strasburg. Escobar then struck out looking, but Peralta made sure Marte’s hit didn’t go to waste. He lined a double to the gap in left-center to score the speedy Marte all the way from first, making the score 4-2. Walker followed with a single to center, scoring Peralta and extending the lead to 5-2. Lamb then flied to left, ending the inning.
Nationals Narrow Gap, Diamondbacks Blow It Open
Phenom second baseman Juan Soto led off the fourth with a groundout to second, but catcher Kurt Suzuki and second baseman Brian Dozier hit consecutive singles to bring up former Diamondback Gerardo Parra with an RBI opportunity. The first baseman tripled to right, plating both runners and making the score 5-4. He stayed at third, however, as Robles grounded to third and Strasburg was called out on strikes, bringing the Diamondbacks to the plate. They wasted a leadoff single by Ahmed, however, as Avila flied to left, Ray struck out on a foul bunt attempt, and Dyson struck out, ending the fourth.
Ray took out his frustration with his failure to lay down a bunt in the top of the fifth, as he fanned both Turner and Eaton to lead off the fifth. Rendon singled, keeping the inning alive, but Soto grounded to second, quelching the threat.
Big Fifth Inning
Marte opened the bottom of the fifth with a triple to the 413 mark in right-center field and scored when Escobar followed with a single past a drawn-in infield and into right. Peralta then hit into a 4-6-3 double play to empty the bases, making it look like the Diamondbacks might have to settle for only one run. However, Walker drew a five-pitch walk, then third baseman Jake Lamb smashed a two-run homer to left, making the score 8-4. Ahmed then whiffed, but the third strike went wild, and he made it to first easily. This ended Strasburg’s night, bringing lefty Matt Grace out of the bullpen.
Given a fourth out, the Diamondbacks took advantage, as Avila welcomed Grace to the game with a deep home run to right-center on the seventh pitch of the at-bat. This brought up Ray’s spot. Ray told reporters after the game that he made a face after a pitch in the top of the fifth, and manager Torey Lovullo thought he had hurt himself. Consequently, Adam Jones hit for Ray, giving Ray an early exit, and whiffed, ending the inning with the Diamondbacks leading, 10-4.
Lots of Runners, No Runs
Yoshi Hirano pitched the sixth for the Diamondbacks and only allowed one baserunner. That came when Suzuki beat out a grounder to second. A strikeout sandwiched between two groundouts later, the half-inning ended. In the bottom of the sixth, the Diamondbacks loaded the bases. Dyson led off with a single up the middle but was forced at second when Marte followed with a grounder to third. Escobar then lined to center, but a single to right by Peralta and a base on balls by Walker loaded the bases for Lamb. Lamb worked the count to 2-2, then fouled off the fifth pitch before grounding to second, ending the inning with the bases left loaded.
Zack Godley took the mound for the Diamondbacks in the seventh in a low-pressure situation. Adrian Sanchez led off the top of the seventh hitting for Grace and fanned. Turner then singled to right, bringing up Eaton, who belted a liner to deep left. It looked to be trouble, but Peralta made a fantastic running catch on the track for the second out. After Rendon walked, Soto flied to left on the seventh pitch of his at-bat, retiring the side.
Diamondbacks Blow It Open
Tanner Rainey (2/3) and Daniel Hudson (1/3) combined to pitch the bottom of the seventh. The duo allowed four walks and three strikeouts, pushing the Diamondbacks lead to 11-4. Godley pitched to only three batters in the eighth, with a one-out single being erased by a 4-6-3 double play.
In the eighth, Parra took the mound. He walked the first three hitters – Walker, Lamb, and reserve right fielder Tim Locastro – and then surrendered a one-run single to right. A walk to Godley then forced in a run, ending Parra’s appearance as a pitcher. He swapped positions in the infield with second baseman Brian Dozier, who gave up a two-run ground-rule double to Dyson, a fly to shallow right by Marte, a three-run home run to left by Escobar, a pop to third by Peralta, and a deep fly to center by Walker.
With the score now 18-4, Godley took the mound in the ninth to try for a three-inning save. He began by hitting Robles – the second plunking Robles suffered in the game. Then first baseman Matt Adams flied to right before Turner walked, advancing Robles to second. Eaton then hit a slow grounder to short that resulted in a 6-4 force play for the second out. Eaton took second on the at-bat to Rendon, who eventually homered to left, cutting the deficit to 18-7. Soto then doubled before Suzuki walked, bringing in new pitcher T.J. McFarland, who got Dozier to line to left for the final out.
Ray (10-7) earned the win, while Strasburg (14-5) suffered the loss. The win brought the Diamondbacks to 55-56, while the loss dropped the Nationals to 58-52.
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