The Arizona Diamondbacks are off to a fantastic start early in this MLB season, running their record to 19-7 after a 4-3 10-inning win over the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
Nine times, the Diamondbacks have played a series against an opponent. Nine times, they’ve won that series.
That ties a National League record: The 1907 Chicago Cubs — who incidentally won the World Series that year, the first of two consecutive World Series titles that were until 2016 the only championships in franchise history — won their first nine series of the season on their way to a 25-6 start before splitting a four-game set with Cincinnati in late May.
That Cubs team, which went 107-45, curiously had no winning streaks longer than seven games.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) April 28, 2018
The Diamondbacks have been similarly consistent so far this season, with no winning streak longer than four, while they have yet to lose consecutive games at any point thus far.
The American League has seen the nine-series winning streak far more recently: The 2001 Mariners won their first nine series of the season before losing two out of three at home against Toronto May 4-6.
The Diamondbacks have had a little help from Lady Luck; they are 7-3 in one-run games and 2-1 in extra-inning games; they are playing a game above their expected record based on run differential.
The Nationals are the curious counterpoint to Arizona’s success; they are 1-8 in one-run games and 0-3 in extra frames; they are 11-16 overall but, by virtue of having scored 120 runs against 119 runs allowed, project as a 14-13 squad.
Washington is six games behind the first-place Mets and sits fourth in the National League East standings, but one-run game records tend to regress toward a team’s overall record as a season goes on; the Nats may yet win the division for the third straight year.
The loss Saturday spoke to the Nats’ troubled relief pitching this season.
In the 10th inning, with the bases loaded, Nick Ahmed of the Diamondbacks drew a bases-loaded walk from Austin Adams, who threw 11 pitches and just three strikes in issuing two straight free passes when he’d come into the game with runners on first and second and one out.
Carlos Torres came in and got two strikeouts to stop the bleeding, but the damage was done.
It’s been a rough season for Nationals relief pitchers; their relief squad stands at 1-7, with only Adams (0.00) and closer Sean Doolittle (2.45) posting an ERA under 4 — and Adams gave up those two walks to cost his team the game Saturday night.
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, have a 6-4 record and 10 saves from their relief corps; nobody on their team in a non-starting role has an ERA higher than 3.00, and the guy who posted that number, Silvio Bracho, is currently in the minor leagues.
That’s a record older than our state!
— sharon agee (@sharonagee) April 29, 2018
The teams play again on Sunday, and Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock is ready for a third straight win.
“Obviously, it’s great to have a chance to sweep here, but if you can win the series and do that as many times as possible, you’re going to have a good team,” Pollock said.
Meanwhile, Adams acknowledged his role in the loss.
“I’ve got to go out there and throw strikes,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to. I didn’t do my job.”
Nationals manager Dave Martinez had a throw-up-his-hands sort of response to the rotten luck of his team in close games.
“I got nothing to say except those guys in there are playing with heart,” Martinez said.
The Nationals will look to avoid the sweep at home, while Arizona seeks to become the first team in the National League (and, if the 19-7 Red Sox lose at home to the red-hot Tampa Bay Rays, who are 12-13 after winning eight straight, the first in MLB) to get to 20 wins this season.
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