Updated Aug 13, 2013 - 6:57 am
Grit Index: Eaton, D-backs cap wild contest with a walk-off home run
After Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis smashed his league-leading 43rd home run of the season in the eighth inning to knot the score up at five apiece, Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Wil Nieves got the final laugh of the night with his first home run since August 9, 2012 in the bottom half of the frame.
Or, so he thought.
Although Brad Ziegler hadn't given up a run since July 2, the Orioles -- behind a hit, a stolen base, a walk, an untimely defensive gaffe by Paul Goldschmidt and a sacrifice fly by Nick Markakis -- managed to scrape across the game-tying run in their final at-bat to propel the game to extra innings.
Or, so they thought.
In the bottom half of the inning, D-backs' left fielder Adam Eaton -- taking a page out of Nieves' book -- lined the first pitch he saw from reliever Darren O'Day -- a hanging slider -- into the Chase Field pool for his first home run of the season, as the D-backs walked off on the Orioles 7-6.
"I definitely followed [the home run], but I wasn't sure of the pitch," Eaton said. "I thought I hit a heater, but apparently I hit a slider. I caught it out in front and was happy with the result."
For Arizona, it was the eighth walk-off win of the season and 33rd of the comeback variety.
Nieves' eighth-inning long ball was his fourth hit in as many games, and the career journeyman now has hit safely in nine of his last 10 appearances.
"Wil's been swinging the bat great for us," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "They were throwing some off-speed stuff at him early in the count and then tried to come in on him. [The home run] hit the top of the wall, it was a good break. But he's been exceptional since filling for Miggy."
Another player who has been exceptional of late has been Aaron Hill.
The veteran second baseman began the season as the D-backs' No. 3 hitter, and since returning from the disabled list June 25 has also hit in the No. 2 and No. 5 hole. But it seems the former All-Star might have found his calling as the cleanup hitter.
Hill, who was slotted in every spot but the No. 4 hole in 2012 when he batted .302 with 26 home runs and 85 RBI, has been hitting behind Goldschmidt the past three games due to the absences of Eric Chavez and Miguel Montero, and the results have been instantaneous. In the second inning of Monday night's contest, the 31-year-old clubbed his third home run in as many games, only to follow that up with what at the time was a game-tying RBI single in the seventh.
After starting his D-backs tenure with four scoreless outings, reliever Joe Thatcher has given up three runs in his last two appearances. Chris Davis' towering shot in the eighth was the first allowed by the 31-year-old to a left-handed batter all season.
The D-backs blew multiple saves in the same game for the first time since their 15-inning victory against the New York Mets back on July 4.
Left-hander Wade Miley did his part to minimize the workload for the bullpen after a long series against the New York Mets over the weekend, but the D-backs starter wasn't without his faults over seven innings Monday.
Of the four runs Miley surrendered to Baltimore, three came with two outs.
"I didn't really have good stuff," Miley said. "I was really just pitching with my fastball, because my slider I was leaving it up and didn't have a good changeup. I just tried to battle and keep the other team from scoring."
Goldschmidt struck out three times in a game for the seventh time this season. The D-backs' first baseman has achieved the dubious feat twice so far in August.
"They're pitching him pretty good, but it's part of being a baseball player," Gibson said of Goldschmidt's recent struggles. "He's an elite player, and they are going to pay special attention to him. You look at his production -- regardless of whether he is tired or nicked up -- whatever percentage he's at he's still a lot better than a lot of people out there."
He Said It:
"It's great. As we've discussed before, being on the disabled list for half the season and being able to come out there and produce for your team and get a win for them, it does something mentally for me," Eaton said. "I'm glad we got the win out of it."
- Former D-backs manager Buck Showalter (1998-2000) made his first appearance at Chase Field as an opposing manager.
- The D-backs have given up 14 home runs in their last 10 games.
- With the win, Arizona is 10-1 in its last 11 interleague games at Chase Field.
- Cody Ross will have surgery Tuesday morning to repair a small fracture in his right hip.
- Orioles starter Scott Feldman recorded a season-high eight strikeouts in the loss.
- Aaron Hill has five straight multi-hit games for the first time in his career.
- Gerardo Parra became the first D-backs player to have multiple stolen bases in the same inning this season.
The D-backs will try to win their second series of the homestand as right-hander Randall Delgado (4-3, 3.48) takes the mound Tuesday night. Delgado, who is 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA in his last four starts, will be opposed by Orioles left-hander Miguel Gonzalez (8-5, 3.91). First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. and can be heard on Arizona Sports 620.
Dave Dulberg, Web Content Editor - ArizonaSports.com
- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN MLB insider - Wednesday April 23ESPN MLB insider Tim Kurkjian discusses what the D-backs need to do to turn things around.
- Kevin Towers, D-backs GM - Wednesday April 23What can be done to save the season?
- Kirk Gibson, D-backs manager - Tuesday April 22D-backs manager Kirk Gibson talks about the team's struggles.
- Bickley Blast - Monday April 21Dan goes off on the struggling D-backs.
- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN MLB Insider - Thursday April 17Tim Kurkjian talks about the Diamondbacks' tough start to the season.
- Bickley Blast - Thursday April 17Bickley blasts Kevin Towers' philosophy and the need for an analytics GM.
- Derrick Hall, D-backs President and CEO - Thursday April 17Is it too early to make a change?