TAIJUAN WALKER MAKES CASE FOR SPOT IN PLAYOFF ROTATION IN 4-3 LOSS TO ROYALS

Taijuan Walker

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -With the Wild Card starter announced in Zack Greinke, the Diamondbacks need to consider the rotation for the NLDS (National League Division Series) should they advance. You would assume Robbie Ray would be that game one starter, but then who follows him is up in the air. Tonight, Taijuan Walker took a major step in answering that question with a five-inning, four hit, one run performance. He issued only one walk and had six strikeouts on 76 pitches.

After the game, Torey Lovullo talked about Walker’s performance. “I thought his stuff was really good. Aggressive fastball. Really good breaking ball. Some change ups. I thought it was a very, very effective outing. He walked off the mound after five innings with a chance to win the game. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the opportunity for him.”

The offense of Arizona was paced with a 2-for-3 performance (two doubles) from their leadoff hitter David Peralta. A.J. Pollock also added a solo home run in the sixth inning, his 14th of the season. This was the 218th team home run as they continue to add on from the 216 mark set by the 1999 team.

JORGE BONIFACIO

Photo Credit: Brian Kreps

Kansas City (80-81) responded in the bottom of the inning with Jorge Bonifacio belting a home run to left-center field, his 17th of the season, and giving the Royals their first lead of the game at 4-2. The 17th home run is the most by a rookie since Eric Hosmer had in 2011 with 19.

Jakob Junis (9-3) picked up the win for the Royals pitching six innings, and allowing two runs on five hits. He did have two walks and five strikeouts on 97 total pitches.

Arizona (92-69) closed the gap in the eighth inning when Daniel Descalso tripled home A.J. Pollock who reached via a walk. This cut the lead to 4-3. The Diamondbacks did not score in the ninth and lost by that score.

The bullpen for the Diamondbacks was the difference in the game. Mr. Reliable Archie Bradley (3-3) surrendered the home run to Bonifacio and would be relieved by Zack Godley who entered the game in the bottom of the sixth. Godley looked sharp in his outing pitching 1.2 innings without allowing a hit or run. He had two strikeouts and threw a total of 15 pitches. On Godley’s performance, Lovullo was pleased. “Once Archie got to that pitch count, we just determined that it was the right thing to do to get him off the mound. Zack (Godley) came in and did a great job. It was interesting to see, come in and execute right away.”

Jeff Mathis was activated prior to the game from a fractured right hand. He played five innings and was 1-for-2 on the night. “‪First it’s great to have him back. There is a comfort level that you feel when he’s in the game. You miss that. We have other catchers that are very capable and they have done a great job. Jeff Mathis worked hard to get back here, and it was nice to see him back there.”

On the idea of playing Mathis tomorrow. “The idea is to get him in there at some point and continue to evaluate where he’s at,” added Lovullo.

With Royals Hosmer single in the fourth inning, he extended his on-base streak in interleague play to 30 games. The longest since Twins Joe Mauer had 31 straight from May 21, 2013-June 15, 2015.

Mike Minor pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his sixth save and back to back saves in as many nights.

Next up is the regular season finale and end to the regular 2017 baseball season. Robbie Ray (15-5, 2.86 ERA) is scheduled for the Diamondbacks while Jason Vargas (18-10, 3.94 ERA) gets the ball for the Royals.

About The Author

Brian is an eight-year veteran as a professional baseball umpire. Now retired from behind the plate, BK is a radio personality of Sports Hour with Brian Kreps heard on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060 , writer and sports photographer. Brian has spent the past year-and-a- half providing in-depth coverage of the Arizona Rattlers. Despite an array of interests, Brian’s passion for baseball has not changed.