PHOENIX (AP) – The shift has become an extremely important part of defense in the major leagues. Matt Adams showed how silly it can look when it doesn’t work.
With the shift on against the left-handed slugger, Adams hit one the opposite way – right where the shortstop would be in a normal defensive alignment – to drive in the go-ahead run in the 11th inning in the Washington Nationals’ 2-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday night.
“I know the last couple of years, seeing the ridiculous shifts,” Adams said, “I know that I can still go the other way.”
Trea Turner opened the 11th with a single off Fernando Salas (3-4) and Anthony Rendon walked. Left-hander Andrew Chafin relieved Salas and Adams singled to give Washington its first lead of the night.
Brandon Kintzler (1-2) pitched a scoreless 10th to get the win. Sean Doolittle threw a perfect 11th for his seventh save in as many tries.
A balk by the Diamondbacks’ Archie Bradley brought in the tying run in the eighth inning.
With Arizona up 1-0, Michael A. Taylor doubled off Zack Greinke and ended what had been an outstanding night for the Diamondbacks starter. Bradley relieved Greinke and Wilmer Difo put down a bunt to move the runner to third. Bradley was called for a balk that brought Taylor home to tie it at 1.
“It is all on me,” Bradley said. “I kind of mistake a sign for what I thought was a pick play. I know we don’t really run it, but under the circumstance I thought I saw something. I acknowledged the sign back and clearly I was wrong. It is unfortunate that kind of spoiled what Zack did and that it ended up losing the game makes it hurt even more.”
Greinke, who singled in the Diamondbacks’ only run, and Washington’s Tanner Roark had been in command most of the night.
“That’s a great win against an unbelievable opponent,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “Greinke was awesome and Tanner was awesome. It was a great game all the way around. Credit to the bullpen. They came in and shut them down.”
No runner for either team made it to the second base until the fifth, when Arizona’s Ketel Marte led off with a single and took second on Nick Ahmed’s groundout. Jeff Mathis popped out for the second out, but Greinke singled sharply to left to bring Marte home and put Arizonan up 1-0.
Greinke retired 16 in a row before Steven Souza Jr. couldn’t quite hang on with a diving attempt on Howie Kendrick’s two-out double to right, putting a Nationals player on second for the first time all night. But Pedro Severino popped out on Greinke’s 70 mph curveball to end the inning.
Greinke went seven innings plus one batter, allowing one run and four hits, striking out six with no walks. Roark went seven innings, giving up a run and four hits with four strikeouts without a walk.
Severino doubled down the left-field line off Brad Boxberger with two outs in the ninth, but was stranded when Taylor grounded out sharply to shortstop.
Arizona’s Jarod Dyson reached on a one-out, pinch-hit single in the 10th and was thrown out trying to steal second. Kintzler walked David Peralta and Daniel Descalso lashed a double down the right-field line to put runners at second and third for Paul Goldschmidt. But Goldschmidt, mired in a 2-for-34 slump, grounded out to end the inning.
Nationals: CF Adam Eaton underwent exploratory arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle and the procedure uncovered a slight tear. There is no timetable for his return. … C Matt Wieters left with an apparent leg injury after running out a single in the second. He said the pain is behind his left knee and, while he thinks it’s a hamstring, he’ll know more after an MRI on Friday.
Diamondbacks: RHP Shelby Miller (Tommy John surgery) is scheduled to throw three innings in a simulated game Friday. … RHP Brandon Shipley (right elbow inflammation) has started his throwing program after getting a cortisone shot last week. … 3B Jake Lamb (sprained left AC joint) took groundballs and participated in batting practice in the cage.
RHP Max Scherzer (6-1, 1.74 ERA), who leads the majors in victories, goes for No. 7 when the Nationals face the Diamondbacks in the second game of the four-game series. Matt Koch (2-0, 1.23) goes for Arizona. Koch already has defeated Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander this season.