New-look Diamondbacks put on an offensive show
PHOENIX — When you’re in an offensive funk, you try things, Kirk Gibson said before Tuesday’s game.
If the timing is right and something sparks, the way Sean Burroughs’ unexpected home run in Washington did two years ago, you are off and running.
“Get your mojo back,” Gibson said, “and you are on your way.”
The D-backs took a step in that direction with a 10-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs before 21,278 at Chase Field, when All-Star Patrick Corbin became the third National League pitcher to 12 victories.
Their 10 runs were more than they had scored in the previous five games combined.
Their 14 hits were the most in any game since a 7-5 victory over the New York Mets on July 4, and that game went 15 innings.
Their six hits with runners in scoring position were as many as they had in their previous seven games.
And the D-backs did not do it with some of their regular crew. Gibson juggled the lineup to give regulars Miguel Montero, Gerardo Parra and Aaron Hill a day off. All, Gibson thought, seemed to be trying to do too much to get the team out of its offensive slump.
“The struggles that we’ve had, I think guys tend to grind a little more. You just kind of pull them off it a little bit,” Gibson said.
“We have to find our way through it, sync up, catch fire, and get after it like other teams have done.”
At the center of the new mix was Eric Chavez, who by his own count had not started against a left-handed pitcher in at least three seasons but was inserted into the lineup and hit fifth against Cubs left-hander Travis Wood.
Chavez drove in three and had two hits, both coming with two outs and both keying three-run innings. His triple to left-center field gave the D-backs a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning. Wil Nieves, who got a spot start for Montero, singled in Chavez to made it 4-1.
The score was still there when Chavez batted with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning, and he lined a single to left-center to scored two more.
Chavez was told Monday night that he was starting Tuesday, and he was more than ready.
“When things are going bad, you just have to turn it the other way,” he said. “Hopefully we can build on that. Today will mean nothing if we don’t come back and back it up tomorrow.”
Chavez had been bothered by hip soreness recently and had not started since July 8 against the Dodgers.
He has shown himself to be a valuable presence when in the lineup, and he was hitting fourth behind Paul Goldschmidt when the D-backs went on a nice run the final three weeks of May before a strained oblique muscle kept him out for about a month.
He has four three-RBI games this season, and his 32 RBIs are fourth on the team despite the fact that he has only 152 at-bats. He is hitting .303, and his .533 slugging percentage is second to Goldschmidt’s.
“I’ve been waiting for him to get healthy” Gibson said. “He’s a veteran guy. Put him in there, put him in that situation, and it worked nicely.
“You can’t count on the same guys all the time.”
A lot of the D-backs’ success Tuesday had to do with setting the table in front of Chavez and Goldschmidt, who singled in the final run in a three-run eighth inning for his league-leading 80th RBI.
Leadoff man Adam Eaton had the best game since his return July 9 with three singles, a walk and three runs scored. A.J. Pollock, hitting behind Eaton, had a double, a triple and three RBI. His 24 doubles are the most by far among major league rookies.
“We need guys on base for sure,” Chavez said. “We need them ahead of ‘Goldy.’ If we can get those guys on base, we’re definitely going to be more consistent.”