These days, National League pitchers seem deathly afraid of pitching to Diamondbacks’ first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
Here at the “official” half-way mark of the season, Goldschmidt has walked 55 times in 357 times at the plate. In recent weeks, opposing pitches seem to stay away and the frequency of walks has increased.
No such fear from American League pitchers.
In the NL’s 5-3 loss in the 85th All-Star Game Tuesday night at Target Field, AL hurlers came right after Goldschmidt in critical situations and the Arizona slugger did not respond.
Leading the NL in RBIs a year ago, Goldschmidt came up with runners in scoring position and twice failed to deliver.
In the first inning against AL starter Felix Hernandez, Goldschmidt, in the uncustomary clean-up slot in the batting order, came up with the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen on third with two outs and promptly grounded to third to end the frame.
Later, Goldschmidt faced a similar situation but with the same result.
Against former D-back and current Detroit starter Max Scherzer, Goldschmidt fanned swinging with the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki, who doubled with two out, to end that inning.
In his three times at the plate, Goldschmidt left two runners in scoring position, and for the game, the National League stranded seven. In all, the NL was 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Beneficiary of a two-run American League rally in the fifth, Scherzer, who pitched for the Diamondbacks from 2008-2009 and was Arizona’s first round pick in the 2006 draft, picked up the win. Scheduled to start this Sunday in Cleveland, the Diamondbacks will miss Scherzer when the Tigers visit Chase Field next week for a three-game series.
If Goldschmidt exposed one weakness in the All-Star game, it is his propensity to strike out. For a player who is meticulous in preparation, Goldschmidt will likely address the strike out issue when the second half begins Friday night in Chase Field against the Cubs.
At the break, he has fanned 94 times in those 357 times at the plate and pitchers seems to get him out with pitches down and away. For now, he took the collar in baseball’s biggest, mid-summer show and National League pitchers will likely take note of his vulnerability displayed in the All-Star game.
In the field, Goldschmidt demonstrated why he won his first Gold Glove last season.
The A’s Josh Donaldson lead off the bottom of the fifth against Pat Neshek of St. Louis. Donaldson ripped a laser wide of first but Goldschmidt lunged, gloved the ball and flipped to Neshek just ahead of the head-first Donaldson slide to the bag. Later in the fifth, Neshek, a home-town favorite who grew up in Brooklyn Park, Minn., surrendered the two-spot in the bottom of the fifth and took the loss.
If Goldschmidt was voted by the fans to start for the NL at first base, catcher Miguel Montero was a late replacement for injured Yadier Molina of the Cardinals.
Montero entered the game in the eighth and did catch the Reds’ Aroldis Chapman for the final two outs of the game.
Montero, who is leading all major league catchers with 52 RBIs at the break, flied to left off the Twins’ Glen Perkins to open the ninth. From that point, Perkins struck out the Pirates’ Josh Harrison swinging and retired the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon on a grounder to second to end the game.
As a result of their victory, the American League now gets home field advantage in the up-coming World Series.