D-backs’ Greinke pitches a gem to avoid sweep by Rockies

The Diamondbacks dropped their first series of the second half to the Rockies, but were able to avoid the sweep with a win on Sunday behind a gem from Zack Greinke.

July 20: Rockies win 11-10
July 21: Rockies win 6-5
July 22: Diamondbacks win 6-1

“On a day when we were obviously a little bit down after a tough loss yesterday, once again Zack steps up and does an incredible job of letting us get into a very comfortable way inside of our dugout,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “It was a phenomenal effort on a day when we really needed it.”

Greinke stays solid

Greinke went eight innings allowing one run on two hits with 13 strikeouts in the finale. He had 111 pitches, 77 for strikes.

“I think he was duplicating pitches on both sides of the plate with his fastball, he was throwing a change-up, slider combination, a curveball when he needed it, it was just a really complete effort,” Lovullo said. 

The D-backs’ skipper said he was constantly communicating with Greinke throughout the afternoon about how he was feeling and Greinke said he was feeling “great.” There was thought of a complete game, but at 111 pitches, Lovullo decided that it would be best to cap the ace there.

Greinke’s day was backed up by the D-backs offense. AJ Pollock and Steven Souza Jr. got things going in the first with back-to-back doubles. Then in the fourth, Nick Ahmed had a two RBI triple to extend the lead to 3-0. In the sixth, an error and bases-loaded walk that scored one sealed the deal for the D-backs to get the 6-1 win.

Greinke is now 11-5 with a 3.05 ERA in 21 starts this year.

Chafin’s scoreless streak

Andrew Chafin has a 9 game scoreless streak in 6.1 innings after pitching in all three games this weekend.

Chafin was brought in to get out of the seventh on Friday, then on Saturday, was brought in to finish out the sixth inning.

On Sunday, Chafin was brought on in the ninth. After giving up a leadoff single to Charlie Blackmon, Rockies’ oufielder Gerardo Parra hit into a double play. Lovullo then went to Silvino Bracho to get the final out.

“He seems to get the bulk of the guys at the top of (Rockies) lineup, specifically Charlie Blackmon” Lovullo said of what he liked from Chafin. “With the score 6-1, and it may be questionable about him being in that game, but I just didn’t want their engines to get started up and he came in and got a big double play.

“He doesn’t have a back down mentality and I put him in there against some of the best left-handed hitters in the game and he did his job.”

Chafin has allowed seven runs in 49 games this year. Per the D-backs communications team he is one of nine lefty relievers to allow seven or less runs in 2018. 

Chafin’s 1.51 ERA is a career-low. It is also the lowest ERA by a D-backs reliever, minimum 30 games relieved.

Souza Jr. heating up

After struggling to stay healthy earlier this season, Souza Jr. has shown some glimpses of what he can bring to the D-backs lineup as the second half gets going.

After going 0 for 4 on Friday, Souza Jr. went 3 for 4 on Saturday with two RBIs. Then on Sunday, he got the scoring started for the D-backs early in the game with an RBI double. 

“For him to get that hit base hit, with two outs, he digs out a breaking ball and it’s just a nice patient approach where he doesn’t try to do too much,” Lovullo said. “That’s been the theme for me as I’ve watched Steven over the past ten days.

“It started a few days before the All-Star break where he has begun to use the whole field, be patient with certain pitches that he’s looking for, not trying to do too much…I think he’s learning that home runs are thrown and not hit.”

Souza Jr. has reached base safely in 9 of his last 11 games. 

Bradley’s tough Friday

On Friday, the Diamondbacks had a 8-5 lead heading into the seventh inning when Lovullo brought Archie Bradley into the game. 

After a walk, single and strikeout, Bradley gave up an RBI single to Rockies’ outfielder Carlos Gonzalez to bring the Rockies within two. With two outs, Bradley walked two batters to load the bases for outfielder Raimel Tapia. Tapia stepped into the box and did this:

The grand slam put the Rockies up 11-8 heading into the final frames. 

Chafin, Randall Delgado and Jorge De La Rosa were able to prevent any further damage, but the D-backs offense couldn’t quite make the comeback.

Next Up

The Diamondbacks will be away on a seven game road trip starting on Monday with a four-game set in Chicago against the Cubs. Patrick Corbin will get the start to get the series going on Monday.

Lovullo announced post-game on Sunday that Clay Buchholz will be the starter on Tuesday. Buchholz threw a bullpen on Sunday and felt great, Lovullo said. The righty has been rehabbing a strained left oblique that he sustained in his last start on June 24.

Robbie Ray will pitch on Wednesday and Zack Godley on Thursday to wrap up the D-backs trip to the Windy City.

Arizona has won three of their last four games at Wrigley Field.