Iannetta an unlikely hero, D-Backs sweep Padres, win 15-3

PHOENIX—Chris Iannetta entered Thursday’s game hitting .218. Batting second in the order, with a rare opportunity, he erupted.

Iannetta blasted a changeup to center field with two outs in the bottom of the fifth for his eighth home run of the year, tied with Buster Posey for second in the NL among catchers. The home run would put the D-Backs ahead 4-3, and they never looked back. Iannetta was just getting started. He’d hit a double in the bottom of the sixth that knocked in three runs, extending the D-Backs lead to 9-3, and doubled, driving in two, in the bottom of the eighth, extending the D-Backs lead to 13-3. Iannetta finished with a career-high seven RBI.

Is Torey Lovullo a genius? (Fun fact: Iannetta now has more RBI (20) than Buster Posey (18)) “I felt like it was going to be the right situation for him to hit in front of Goldy, get some quality pitches, and try to impact the game,” D-Backs Manager Torey Lovullo said.

“These are the days you play baseball for,” Iannetta said. “You get a chance to contribute, and have fun doing it, you feel like a kid again.”

As far as batting second? “It actually happened last night,” Iannetta said. Torey is walking around the clubhouse; he always tells us the night before who we’re playing, what to expect. I kind of looked at it [the lineup card], saw it was the two-hole. I asked if it was a typo, then I asked if they were trying, joking around,” Iannetta said.

Starter Patrick Corbin struggled early, surrendering three runs in the first two innings, but the offense had his back. He’d last 5 2/3 innings giving up three runs on eight hits, walking three and striking out eight. A five-inning outing can’t be what the D-Backs expect or want from him. He did pick up his fifth consecutive win at home, however.

“I thought I made some good pitches there in the first, and they end up scoring,” Corbin said.

What’s wrong with Corbin, the former All-Star in 2013 who’s allowed 15 runs in his past three outings combined? His slider. A slider that Todd Helton once said was the nastiest he’s ever seen isn’t that great anymore. Batters aren’t swinging and missing at it like they used to, so he’s turning to his secondary stuff more often, like his changeup, which hitters are feasting on. The slider has lost a lot of horizontal movement since Corbin had Tommy John Surgery back in 2014, and that’s the primary reason why it’s no longer as effective as it once was. (The double by Hunter Renfroe in the top of the third that made it 3-2 Padres was off a 1-2 slider.)

(*Tommy John Surgery is a procedure where a ligament in the elbow is replaced with a tendon from somewhere else in the body. For many pitchers, they’re never the same after such a surgery. When it was first completed back in ’74, Dr. Frank Jobe gave Tommy John, patient 0,  1 in 100 odds of pitching again. Odds now are between 85 and 90 percent, while rehab usually takes around 12-15 months.)

Chris Owings continued his breakout campaign, recording a RBI for the fourth straight game with his double to right in the bottom of the first that cut the Padres lead in half, 2-1. Owings is having a terrific season, with career highs in batting average, home runs, slugging percentage, and OPS. You could even include on-base percentage since he only played in 20 games in 2o13, which was the season he recorded his highest OBP mark.

Daniel Descalso singled to left driving home Owings and tying the score in the same half inning. He’d later hit a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to extend the D-Backs lead to 11-3. The D-Backs scored ten of their fifteen runs with two outs. They scored multiple runs the same way Wednesday night, in their 7-4 victory over San Diego. They say snakes are at their most dangerous when their backs are against the wall, which is very fitting for a team nicknamed for the venomous reptile.

“I think it’s a sign of who we are,” Lovullo said of the two-out magic. “We can strike in a lot of different ways. We have a lot of two-out success because I think maybe there might be a little natural let down, the pitcher feels like he’s close to being out of some situations, but we take advantage of those things,” Lovullo said.

Things got so godawful for the Padres that infielder Erick Aybar came in to pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning. It wasn’t even his first career relief appearance. The first one was ironically also against the D-Backs. His signature pitch is his 68 MPH…Knuckleball? Aybar probably pitched better than any other Padre during the game, even forcing a double play.

Freight Train: David Peralta hit an RBI single to center scoring two in the bottom of the sixth inning to make it 6-3 D-Backs. The two RBI were the most he’s had in his past EIGHTEEN games COMBINED.

Making History: The D-Backs’ 15 runs were the most they’ve scored all season. They haven’t scored this many runs since they scored 16 against the Rockies back in June 2o14. The D-Backs have set a club record for their best 32 game start. The D-Backs have won nine straight games at home. The last time they won 9+  consecutive games at home was when they won 15  in 2011.

Cheaper By The Dozen: The D-Backs have homered in 12 straight home games. It’s been 16 years since they’ve last done this, and they won the World Series that year.

Chasing History: Paul Goldschmidt has reached base safely in a career-high 35 consecutive games at Chase Field. He’s two away from Stephen Drew’s record with the D-Backs. Goldy doubled in the bottom of the sixth to extend the D-Backs lead to 10-3. Goldy is second in the NL among First Baseman with 15 doubles, trailing only Ryan Zimmerman, who has 18.

Down, But Not Out: Austin Hedges drove in two runs with his single to center in the top of the first. The 24-year-old Hedges has a .371 average over 35 at-bats down o-1 in the count.

Up Next: Randall Delgado (1-1, 3.24 ERA) takes the mound for Arizona Friday in the first game of a three-game series against the Brewers. Zach Davies (6-3, 4.69 ERA) will pitch for Milwaukee.

“We scored over 30 runs over the three games, and hopefully that’ll catapult us into the next series against Milwaukee,” Lovullo said.

 

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