Considering the opposition, Diamondbacks’ right-hander Josh Collmenter had to be on the top of his game.
That’s because Collmenter drew Cubs’ right Jake Arrieta as his mound opponent Sunday afternoon. Coming into his first-ever start against Arizona, Arrieta sported the third lowest ERA (1.95) of any starters in the majors since May. His low ERA was only topped only by the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (1.81) and Seattle’s Felix Hernandez (1.88).
Collmenter and Arrieta engaged in a solid pitcher’s duel until Cubs’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo put an exclamation point on this one. Rizzo smacked his third home run of the series, and 23rd of the season, with one out in the sixth off Collmenter and that was enough for a slight lead.
If Rizzo was instrumental in helping the Cubs gain an early lead, he was equally involved in the game-winner. A bizarre play involving Rizzo grabbing a foul ball and then falling into the Cubs’ dugout lead to the go-ahead run in the Diamondbacks 3-2 victory over the Cubs before 37,131 in Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks have now broken out of the second-half gate with a sweep of Chicago and this marks the second time in franchise history (the other, 2002) that Arizona won three straight after the All-Star break.
The sweep was their second of the season (at Colorado, June 3-5) and first at home since they broke out the brooms against the Orioles last Aug. 12-14.
In the end, Collmenter was the beneficiary of a two-spot in the sixth, a single run in the seventh and improved to 8-5 on the season. In the process, he lowered his ERA from 3.80, at the start of the game, to 3.64.
“I was able to command my fast ball and control both sides of the plate,” Collmenter said. “They key right now is my curve. I’m throwing it for strikes and it’s nice to be able to throw all my pitches for strikes. For me, it’s working smart and not working hard.”
If Collmenter kept the Cubs at bay, the game-changer for Arizona transpired in the sixth. That’s when Rizzo was front and center and in the middle of a peculiar play which turned out quite influential.
After the Diamondbacks tied the score at 1-1 on back-to-back doubles from Ender Inciarte and David Peralta leading off the sixth, Paul Goldschmidt grounded to second and advanced Peralta to third. Following a walk to Miguel Montero, Aaron Hill lifted a foul toward the Cubs’ dugout along the first base line. Rizzo reached into the dugout, made the grab and then fell into the Cubs bench.
After the catch, Peralta was awarded home plate because the ball was carried out of play. As well, Montero was awarded second base but was stranded as Gerardo Parra grounded to second to end the inning.
The rule of 7.04 c states when a player makes a legal catch and falls in the dugout or otherwise in a boundary considered out-of-play, the ball is dead and a runner advances one base.
On third at the time, Peralta said he was not fully aware of the rule and was prepared to tag after Rizzo caught the ball.
“On a play like that, you never know what will happen,” said Peralta, who contributed with a 2-for-4 afternoon, two RBIs and a run scored. “You have to be ready in that situation and I was just trying to do my job.”
His “job,” it turned out, produced the winning run.
In the bottom of seventh, Mark Trumbo hit for Collmenter and walked with two out. Taking off for second, Trumbo appeared to steal the bag but umpire Cory Blaser called the runner out. Immediately, manager Kirk Gibson challenged Blaser's decision and after the replay, the call was overturned. Inciarte following with an infield single and then Peralta singled up the middle to produce the game winner.
“It looked like Trumbo was in and he said he got in,” Gibson said afterward. “So, we challenged. Turned out to be a big play in the game.”
The run-producer from Peralta made the score 3-1 at the time and the Cubs touched Brad Ziegler for a run on back-to-back doubles from Chris Coghlan and Arismendy Alcantara with one out in the eighth.
From that point, Addison Reed came in, shut the door in the ninth in a 1-2-3 ninth inning and picked up his 23rd save of the season.
With the Detroit Tigers here for three games, numbers for hitters facing pitchers are slim.
On Monday night, Justin Verlander takes on the Diamondbacks and the only player with any kind of at-bats is Aaron Hill, who is 4-for-13, a .308 average against Verlander.
On Tuesday night, Rick Porcello faces Arizona. Hill is 2-for-11, a .182 batting average and Mark Trumbo is 4-for-13, a .308 average against the Tigers‘ right-hander.
On Wednesday afternoon, Anibal Sanchez takes on the D-backs and Arizona has some history because Sanchez faced the Diamondbacks while pitching for the Marlins. Here, Miguel Montero is 3-for-14 (.214), Gerardo Parra is 5-for-11 (.455) and Martin Prado is 13-for-31 (.419).
Trevor Cahill starts for the D-backs in the Wednesday matinee and Torii Hunter is 4-for-23 (.174), Miguel Cabrera is 2-for-11 (.182) while Ian Kinsler is 7-for-31 (.226).