Diamondbacks’ Peralta looks to stay hot vs. Mets
PHOENIX — Arizona left fielder David Peralta reworked his swing in the offseason, moving his hands lower and closer to his body with an eye toward getting the ball into the air. It is taking off.
Peralta has 14 homers and 36 RBIs in 62 games, and he already has tied his career high in homers with more than half to season remaining. Along with Paul Goldschmidt, Peralta has helped the Diamondbacks (39-30) score a major league-high 99 runs in June after winning the first two games of a four-game series against the New York Mets.
Peralta had two hits to extend his hitting streak to seven games and scored a run in a 7-3 victory Friday. He had three homers in the first two games of the series, including his second career two-homer game Thursday.
Arizona will look to build on a 10-3 June when it sends left-hander Patrick Corbin to the mound to oppose Mets left-hander Steven Matz on Saturday. Matz, originally scheduled to start the series opener Thursday, was pushed back because of a blister issue.
The Mets are headed the other way. After opening the season 11-1, they have lost 12 of 13 to fall a season-low 10 games below .500 (28-38).
Peralta’s power improvement came as a result of discussions with hitting coaches Dave Magadan and Tim Laker and input from the Diamondbacks’ analytics department, which showed Peralta how often his hard-hit balls stayed on the ground.
“I made a little bit of change with my hands to try to elevate the fastball more,” said Peralta. “Why not put it in the air and see if it is going to better results? When I tried it in the beginning, it felt kind of weird.”
By the start of spring training, Peralta said he was feeling good with the new stroke. Either way, he was determined to stay the course.
“I put it in my mind that it didn’t matter if I got into a slump, I was just going to keep doing it because you have to trust the process,” he said.
Arizona manager Torey Lovullo liked what he saw of the new approach in spring training.
“It’s allowing him to get the barrel to the ball more frequently,” Lovullo said. “He’s just a good hitter. He’s focused so much on being a complete hitter, using the whole field. Now he’s picking his spots to drive the ball.”
While the Diamondbacks’ offense is rolling, the Mets have scored three runs or fewer in 11 straight games, the first time that has happened since 1981. They have lost six of their last seven series, splitting the other, and the best they can do in Arizona is another split after losing the first two games.
Dominic Smith, recalled at the start of the week, hit his first homer of the season Friday, which was the Mets’ 22nd homer in their last 20 games. Eighteen of those, including Smith’s, have come with the bases empty.
“We need to go out there and score some runs. That’s simply stated,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway told reporters.
“We haven’t scored a ton and I think our hitters will. I think we have to get everybody in the right spot to start doing that. When we start scoring runs, we are going to win because our pitching has been tremendous.”
Corbin is 6-2 with a season-high 3.10 ERA after giving up five runs (four earned) in a no-decision against Pittsburgh on Monday. He has given up 12 runs (11 earned) in his last three outings, including a season-high six in a loss to Cincinnati on May 30.
He did not figure in the decision while giving up two runs in the Mets’ 5-4 victory at Citi Field on May 19. Corbin had one of his best starts of 2017 against the Mets, giving up one run and four hits in eight innings on Aug. 22. He is 1-3 with a 4.75 ERA in eight career appearances against the Mets.
Corbin ranks fourth in the NL with a 1.00 WHIP, and his 110 strikeouts are third.
Matz, 2-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 12 starts, faced the Diamondbacks on May 19. He gave up four runs in four innings but did not receive a decision when the Mets rallied for a 5-4 walk-off victory in the last of the ninth inning. He has no decisions in two career starts against Arizona, although he has given six runs and four homers in 10 innings. He has never pitched at Chase Field.