Patrick Corbin entered the day yesterday 12-1, with a 17-2 team record in games he started. Make that 18-2. Fresh off a whopping ten days of rest interrupted only by a rocky appearance in the All-Star Game, Corbin showed no signs of rust early and late in the game Tuesday, pitching out of trouble in all of his six innings of work. Though the lefty did give up an RBI single to rising star Anthony Rizzo in the third and two singles to rookie Junior Lake, Corbin ended up with a 4 hit, 3 walk quality start and the W.
It’s a testament to how normal Corbin’s dominance has become that the real story last night was the pixie dust the pitcher apparently sprinkled on the offense. After managing just eight runs in the first four games following the All-Star break, the offense eclipsed that total with ten runs, including a three-pack of three-run innings.
The offense scuffled initially against a surprisingly effective Travis Wood who has enjoyed a surprisingly effective season for Chicago. Wood set down the Dbacks in order for three perfect innings to led off the game. When Adam Eaton finally broke through with a hit in the fourth, he was quickly erased on the bases leaving first for second a little too early against the lefty pitcher. Goldy followed that with a single, but was left standing on first when Ross struck out.
Wood had faced only one batter more than the minimum when Martin Prado seemingly broke the seal in the fifth. Prado, playing second base while Hill took the night off, blasted an 0-2 pitch for a 408-foot home run to left-center. Didi Gregorius managed an infield hit two batters later, but was still standing on first when Corbin grounded out to end the inning.
It didn’t take long for the offense to follow Prado’s lead, however. Adam Eaton, who had shaved his beard to sport a dashing mustache, led off the sixth with his second single. Because was already running when A.J. Pollock followed that up with a double to left, Eaton scored on the play, beating a throw to the plate easily. After Goldy walked, Cody Ross erased him by grounding into a double play — but even flicking the switch from no outs to two, the Dbacks were not done. Eric Chavez launched a 1-1 pitch to deep left center that looked like it had a chance to get out and which was badly misplayed by Alfonso Soriano. Pollock scored to make it 3-1 Dbacks, and after Prado worked a walk, Nieves singled to score Chavez and chase Wood from the game.
Arizona had just as much fun in the seventh and eighth. After a Kubel double and an Eaton walk, both runners advanced on a Pollock fly out to center — Eaton taking advantage of his speed to take the extra base despite its proximity to the play. Goldy was walked intentionally to load them up with one out, and when Ross hit a fly out too shallow to score Kubel, it was once again up to Chavez, who singled to pick up his second and third RBI of the night. Not to be outdone, Prado added Goldy to the runs tally with a single.
After a Schierholtz home run brought the score back to within four, the same cast of Dbacks characters added to the runs total in the eighth. Gregorius walked and Eaton added his third hit of the night before Pollock hit a triple of his own, scoring them both. Goldy also got into the action, hitting a double to score Pollock for the final run.
Was the secret last night Corbin’s winning ways, or some combination of Gregorius’s socks and the Eaton ‘stache? I’m banking on the latter, especially with the news that Montero and Hill will again be out in favor of Nieves and Chavez.
Manager Kirk Gibson indicated before the game that he would no longer talk about the team’s latest offensive slump, suggesting that if everyone stopped talking about it, it might no longer be a problem. Let’s hope that was not the key to success, because after last night’s eruption, the offense is all anyone is talking about.
Other notes: Each time Adam Eaton reached base last night, the PA system greeted him at first base with the Mario Bros. “power up” chime. … And power up Eaton did with a walk and three hits, raising his average to .258 and his on-base percentage to .361. … Although Chavez has been sheltered from LHP for much of the most recent years of his career, Gibby got good results from him last night as a fill-in for Hill. … With a 3-5 performance, Junior Lake has now gone 7-1o against the Dbacks, and has added value on defense. … With his 80th RBI last night, Paul Goldschmidt is within two of his 2012 total.
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