Arizona Diamondbacks – Bradley finishes strong

Archie Bradley, a right-handed pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, delivered a solid effort in his final outing of the season

After the Arizona Diamondbacks handed starter Archie Bradley a five-run lead in the first inning Saturday, the question on the table, what would Bradley do with the advantage.

During the season, Bradley showed streaks of brilliance as well as lapses in performance. Still, he was 3-1 with two no-decisions in his previous six starts. Given such a lead Saturday in his final start of the season, Bradley literally took the ball and ran.

In what many believed to be one of his best outings of the season, Bradley limited the visiting San Diego Padres to two runs over seven innings of work, and recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts. The bottom line was an encouraging 9-5 victory over San Diego before 32,811 in Chase Field.

The win tied the Arizona Diamondbacks with San Diego for fourth place in the National League West Division. With a victory in their final game of the season Sunday, the Diamondbacks would sweep their sixth series of the season.

For Bradley, there was real importance on both how he would respond to the early, five run lead and composition of his final start of the season. Both were positive, and Bradley, for his part, was ecstatic. With the win, Bradley finished 4-1 and four no-decisions in his final nine starts.

“I’ll take the next two weeks to reflect back and absorb what I learned,” he said. “I feel great. After my last pitch at 95 miles per hour, I thought back, “it’s Oct. 1 and I’m still able to do that.’ I’ll take everything into account, and come back strong for next season.”

If there was any worry how Bradley would respond with that early lead, he allayed all fears. After the Padres came back with single runs in the second and third, Bradley went out for the fourth inning with renewed purpose.

“I told myself, ‘they’re up there swinging’ and I need to get back in control,” Bradley added.  “Overall, I thought (catcher Oscar Hernandez and the coaching staff) came up with great game plan, and I was able to execute.”

Bradley retired the final eight hitters he faced, and struck four in that span. What was also encouraging was the fact Bradley walked no hitters in the game.

In the decisive first inning, a three-run homer from Yasmany Tomas keyed the attack. Later, a solo blast from Mitch Haniger, his fifth, and a double and a triple from Jean Segura were the catalysts for important runs later in the game.

Yet, the night belonged to Bradley. Praise started from his manager.

“(Bradley) could have started the eighth, and had great life on his fast ball,” said manager Chip Hale. “Plus, he effectively used his curve. He’s learned so much this year and the results were great.”

Overall, Bradley finished with an 8-9 mark and recorded that career-high 11 strikeouts Saturday against the Padres. That equaled a single-game rookie record for Ks. That was established by Brandon Webb on Aug. 19, 2003 against Cincinnati, equaled by Webb on Aug. 31, 2003 against San Francisco and equaled by Max Scherzer on Sept. 7, 2008 against the Dodgers. Plus, Bradley’s 143 strikeouts on the season was the third-best by a rookie in franchise history. Only Webb (172 in 2003) and Wade Miley (144 in 2012) recorded more Ks in their rookie season.

Most deserving award

Infielder-outfielder Chris Owings was named winner of the Luis Gonzalez Award for the 2016 season.

This is presented by the Diamondbacks to a player who best exemplifies the talents, spirit and heart of Gonzalez on and off the field. The award is voted by teammates, coaches and staff members.

In 2016, Owings set career highs in hits, triple, stolen bases, RBIs and batting average.

This is the second year of the award. Paul Goldschmidt was honored the initial Luis Gonzalez award last year.

The finale

The Arizona Diamondbacks close their season Sunday afternoon in Chase Field.

Right-hander Matt Koch (1-1, 2.25 ERA) takes on San Diego right-hander Paul Clemens (4-5, 4.27) at 12:10 p.m.

With the 2017 schedule announced last month, the Diamondbacks next activity in Chase Field comes up in six months. They open the campaign at home against the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, April 2 in the first of a four-game series. Following a day off, the Giants return for three to complete the series. The Cleveland Indians then come in for three to finish the initial home stand.

For the 2017 season, the Diamondbacks will face American League Central teams in inter-league play. Home games include series with the Indians, Tigers, the White Sox, and Astros. The Diamondbacks have road series in Detroit, Houston, Minnesota and Kansas City.

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