While Diamondbacks closer Brad Ziegler was throwing on the field in the hours before Wednesday’s series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays the scoreboard caught his eye.
“I happened to see the standings” Ziegler said. “I was like ‘Oh we’re one game over .500.’”
No player would say they scoreboard watch but the Diamondbacks do seem to have some extra oomph when faced with the prospect of falling back to an even record. That was the case Wednesday as Arizona again fought from behind to win 4-3 on Willie Bloomquist’s walk-off single in the 10th inning.
It was the team’s 13th walk-off victory and 39th come-from-behind win. The Diamondbacks also tied a franchise record by playing in their 21st extra-inning game and have gone 16-5 in those contests.
But perhaps most importantly with their playoff chances all but kaput it was Arizona’s fifth consecutive win when faced with the prospect of falling back to .500. The last time the team had an even record was April 2 the second day of the season.
The Diamondbacks don’t watch the standings but they don’t want another 81-81 season like in 2012 either.
“It means we’d be better than last year if we got above it” second baseman Aaron Hill said. “Obviously I think most guys’ if not every guys’ opinion is a .500 record is not what you’re shooting for. But I guess if it’s one of those seasons where things don’t go right then yeah you want try to at least say you get there or above to salvage a down season from our expectation.”
The Diamondbacks still feel they have a chance to salvage this season and they’ll feel that way until they’re mathematically eliminated. Games such as Wednesday’s are what make them believe they can spark something down the road.
After allowing three runs in the first inning including a home run to Rajai Davis Diamondbacks starter Randall Delgado locked in allowing a lone baserunner over the next six innings. The 23-year-old right-hander walked none and struck out six mixing in his curveball on a third of pitches after throwing it less than 10 percent of the time this season.
“He’s always shown composure since he’s been up here” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “When we saw him in spring training he was more of a thrower. He really went down to the minor leagues and worked on throwing strikes. I think he has confidence that he can always get himself out of it.”
The bullpen was just as strong as David Hernandez Ziegler and Will Harris combined to throw three scoreless innings. Thanks to two double plays down the stretch Diamondbacks pitchers combined to face the minimum 27 batters after the first.
That set the stage for Bloomquist who had already collected two hits when he stepped in to face the 98 mph fastball of Blue Jays reliever Jeremy Jeffress with runners with the tying run on third and only one out.
Bloomquist has actually had hitting coaches tell him his hands were too quick in the past but his short stroke was perfect for Jeffress’ fastball and he poked a ball into right-center to win the game.
That earned him a walk-off celebration bath that has evolved to include bananas and Gatorade in addition to dirt and water.
“I don’t think Bloomquist liked it” Gibson joked “but he’s usually miserable anyway.”
Added Bloomquist: “Internally I was enjoying it. They’ve taken the walk-off celebration to a whole new level. I’ll be pulling dirt out of my hair probably from now until the end of the season.”
The win capped what was a disappointing home stand in which the team went 4-5.
“There’s still a lot of time left” Ziegler said.
Diamondbacks beat Blue Jays 4-3 in 10 innings
Arizona Republic | Sep 5