Bradley's fastball looks untouchable, until ...
Margot tags one in the eighth inning to thwart D-backs
PHOENIX -- As soon as he felt the seams of the baseball departing his fingertips, Archie Bradley realized the pitch was not going to go down and away, as he planned.
“You know immediately,” the D-backs right-hander said. “You can tell by the way it comes off the direction it’s heading, and you’re just hoping that it’s a bad enough pitch that they don’t swing at it.”
With Bradley’s left shoulder opening up just a bit too soon, his right arm lagged. Rather than getting down and away from Manuel Margot, the ball went to the upper inside corner of the zone.
Margot deposited the up-and-in, 96 mph fastball into the left-field bleachers with what proved to be the game-winning run as the Padres beat the D-backs, 7-6, on Thursday night at Chase Field.
“Margot hits balls up and in,” Bradley said. “I just threw a pitch where I wasn’t supposed to.”
It was a shocking result given the way Bradley had absolutely dominated the first two hitters of the eighth, throwing nothing but mid- to upper-90s fastballs past Manny Machado and Hunter Renfroe.
“He had that thing going pretty good at the top of the zone,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “[The homer] came as a total surprise to me. Not that Manuel Margot does not have good power. But I was seeing Archie get moving in a really positive, and I thought it was going to be a good inning for him.”
Nothing, it seems, has come easily for Bradley since 2017, a magical season in which he made the team out of Spring Training as a long reliever and wound up being one of the best setup men in baseball.
Then last season, a split nail suffered in the spring limited his ability to throw his curveball and batters took advantage. It was still a good season for him, a 3.64 ERA, but not a dominant one like the year before.
This year, it’s been more of same -- good, but not great.
“You’ve seen my outings this year,” Bradley said. “I’ve been working all year. None of them have really been clean. I’ve been busting my [butt] to try to get back and in the same timing and rhythm that I’m used to, and I’m really close. I’m just not there yet.”
At times Bradley has mixed in the curve more than usual and there are nights like Thursday when his first 10 pitches -- the ninth of which was hit by Margot for a homer -- were fastballs.
The loss was particularly tough for the D-backs, who had rallied from a 6-1 deficit to score five runs in the seventh to tie the game, only to watch it quickly disappear. The D-backs’ rally was fueled by a two-run single from David Peralta and a three-run homer by Eduardo Escobar.
“Now that I’ve had some time to step back and look at it it’s just one pitch that got away,” Bradley said. “And that’s the role that we’re in in the back end there, and you just can’t let that happen. I felt good, I felt great, felt like I was definitely a tick up even from the night before. It sucks, man. Losing these games late after you have a big comeback like that really, really sucks.”