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PHOENIX — In the new age Youth Connor Williams Jersey , the Arizona Diamondbacks are a testament to an old saw — pitching and defense win games.
The Diamondbacks have the numbers to prove it.
On defense, they lead the National League in both the old school and new school math: They have the fewest errors (23) in the league and also have “saved” the most above an average defense (51), according to an advanced metric computed by BaseballReference.com.
The Diamondbacks are sixth in the league in team ERA (3.52) and first in bullpen ERA (2.53) and have won seven of their last eight games to regain a cushion atop the NL West.
They used both in an errorless 6-3 victory over the New York Mets in the first game of a four-game series at Chase Field on Thursday, when Brad Boxberger pitched the ninth inning for his 15th save in 17 chances.
The Mets have lost 11 of their last 12 games and 18 of 22.
Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Godley is scheduled to face Mets right-hander Seth Lugo in the second game of the series Friday. Lugo is filling in for Noah Syndergaard, who is on the disabled list because of an injury to his right index finger.
“Pitching and defense go hand-in-hand,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.
“The infielders are engaged and ready because the pitchers are attacking the zone. Pitching sets the tone for the entire day. The success of the defense has to be directly related to how our pitchers are throwing the ball. For the most part they have carried us. We’re prepared defensively.”
The Diamondbacks made a point of constructing a solid defense when it was clear slugger J.D. Martinez would not return. All of their starters grade out well above average in the “runs saved” metric, and reserve Jarrod Dyson — who has played almost regularly because of injuries to A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza Jr. — has saved seven runs himself while also taking away two homers.
“When we knew that J.D. wasn’t coming back, we were kind of working it the opposite way, building our team to save runs rather than maybe knocking in runs,” Lovullo said.
“If we aren’t making plays on defense, I feel they can’t be made period. When someone makes an error, it catches you by surprise. We raise the level of expectations here. When we go out and play the game, we expect guys to be great. They embrace that.”
Shortstop Nick Ahmed, second baseman Ketel Marte and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt have combined for just six errors this season, and all are ranked in the top half in “runs saved” at their respective positions. All three catchers are graded as above average, and Jeff Mathis has thrown out four of the eight runners attempting to steal while ranking near the top in pitching framing.
“Nicky and Ketel, those are two shortstops up the middle,” said Daniel Descalso, who has played first http://www.ravensauthorizedshops.com/authentic-mark-andrews-jersey , second, third and left field for Arizona this season.
“So that is going to give us a good chance to make a lot of plays, turn a lot of double plates. Dyson and A.J. running it down in center field, it probably doesn’t get much better than that.”
The Diamondbacks have shifted their defensive alignment responsibly, and over-shifted third baseman Jake Lamb made a nice back-handed stop and throw from the hole at shortstop to retire Michael Conforto to open Thursday’s game. Center fielder Chris Owings tracked down a ball over his heard in the fourth inning and Ahmed started a force out on a ball in the hole in the fifth.
The Mets were hurt by a bullpen that gave up two homers in the eighth inning Thursday after giving up one in the eighth inning of a 2-0 loss at Atlanta on Wednesday.
“You just have to keep on putting guys in situations that gives them the best chance to succeed,” Mets manager Mickey Calloway. “That is all you can do. Those guys are working really hard in between their outings trying to get the issues they have solved and get into a better spot.”
Godley (6-5, 4.97 ERA) made a quality start against the Mets at Citi Field on May 18, giving up four hits and three runs (one earned) in six innings of a 3-1 loss to Jacob deGrom. That outing mirrored his career against the Mets — he is 1-2 with a 2.08 ERA in five appearances, including four starts, against them
Godley won his last start, giving up two runs and striking out eight over 5 2/3 innings in an 8-3 victory at Colorado on Sunday. He recovered from his least effective appearance of the season, when he gave up seven earned runs in 3 1/3 innings of a 10-3 loss at San Francisco on June 4. He has been more effective at home this season, going 3-1 with a 2.93 ERA in five starts at Chase Field.
Lugo (2-1, 1.77) will be making his third start of the season, and he has not allowed a run yet in that role. He stuck out a season-high eight while giving up only two singles in six scoreless innings of a 2-0 victory against the Yankees on Sunday at Yankee Stadium. He gave up three hits in four scoreless innings against the Cubs on May 31 while making his first spot start in place of Syndergaard.
Lugo has made three career appearances against the Diamondbacks, all in relief, giving up one run in 5 1/3 innings. This season he pitched two scoreless innings in the Mets’ 5-4 victory over Arizona on May 19.
Wrestling masks have replaced the dog masks.
The underdog Philadelphia Eagles are having fun with the media frenzy leading up to the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. They’re staying relaxed, loose and won’t be intimidated by their opponent’s incredible success.
Three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson on Wednesday donned masks that resembled the ones WWE star Rey Mysterio and other luchadores wear in the ring.
”This was a gift from Mexico so I can have super powers all week,” Cox said about the green mask featuring an Eagles logo.
”I’m just having fun right now. We know why we’re here. We can’t come into this all uptight. You have fun when it’s time to have fun and get serious when it’s time to get serious.”
Johnson and defensive end Chris Long pulled out German shepherd masks and wore them off the field and in their interviews after the Eagles beat Atlanta in the divisional round. The Eagles (15-3) were the first No. 1 seed to enter their first playoff game as an underdog.
The city Youth Bradley Chubb Jersey , which has always had an underdog personality, embraced the masks. Johnson and Long then turned it into a charitable venture . They created underdog T-shirts that were sold with all proceeds going to the Philadelphia school district’s not-for-profit arm.
The Eagles were underdogs again in the NFC championship game and routed the Vikings 38-7. They’re in the same spot against the Patriots, who are 4+-point favorites on Sunday.
But these Eagles don’t fear Bill Belichick, Tom Brady or New England’s dynasty. Johnson called Brady a ”pretty boy” and made it clear he’s not bothered by the hype.
”I definitely respect him and all that he’s done in this league,” Johnson told The Associated Press. ”I’m not going to go into the Super Bowl worshipping this man and make him more than what he is. No disrespect.
”As far as bulletin-board material, they can put it on their nightstands for all I care, in their bathrooms, I don’t care. I don’t think you need any motivation to play in the Super Bowl. They know that.”
Brady and Belichick have led the Patriots to five Super Bowl titles, including two of the past three seasons. They beat the Eagles 24-21 in the big game 13 years ago.
Philadelphia players respect the duo’s accomplishments, but aren’t going into the game already defeated. Several players were part of a 35-28 upset win at New England in 2015. The Eagles were a losing team under Chip Kelly that season, but still went on the road and knocked off the 10-1 Patriots.
That won’t matter when the teams meet for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Still, it’s a confidence-booster for some guys.
”I think when you’ve been playing for a long time, you’ve had games where you’ve played unbelievable players and unbelievable coaches,” All-Pro center Jason Kelce said.
”To me, this isn’t any different. These guys have been more consistent throughout the years, but this is the NFL. You play good players every week. There’s good coaches you go against every week. I don’t think you look at this any different than the fact that this is just another game. You see what they do really well and how you can defend it.”
AP NFL website:
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