Slugger hits game-winning slam vs. LA southpaw Watson
By Jarrid Denney
PHOENIX -- Backed by two solo homers from Justin Turner and a jaw-dropping catch from Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers looked to steal the show early at Chase Field on Tuesday. And then, Jake Lamb managed to erase all that with one swing.
Lamb launched a grand slam off Tony Watson in the seventh inning to send the D-backs to a 6-3 win in their series opener with the Dodgers. The D-backs were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position in the game to that point, and Lamb's shot sent the crowd of 24,810 into a chorus of "beat L.A." chants.
"[The Dodgers] are playing great baseball, but we just need to win games," Lamb said. "The fact that it's the Dodgers is great, but I would be saying the same thing if it was any other team."
Lamb's slam wasn't a no-doubter; it left his bat at 92.8 mph before banging into the right-field foul pole, and it had just a 3 percent hit probability, according to Statcast™. That's the lowest hit probability on a homer by a D-backs player in the last three years.
Aside from helping the D-backs chip into the Dodgers' massive lead in the NL West (now 15 games over the D-backs), Lamb's grand slam was another example of the left-handed hitter's improvement against left-handed pitchers.
He entered Tuesday hitting just .143 against southpaws, and he had been moved down in the lineup against lefties on several occasions in previous weeks. But his shot off Watson marked his third homer off a Dodgers left-hander this season -- on July 6, he hit solo homers off Alex Wood and Luis Avilan.
It was also the second time in less than a week that Lamb delivered a timely hit off a southpaw; on Aug. 3, he roped a two-run single off Justin Wilson in the eighth inning to give the D-backs an 8-7 lead over the Cubs in a game that they would go on to win, 10-8.
"I know that it's well-documented that last year he didn't do what he needed to do against left-handed pitching," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "But all I know from that point forward is that he has had tremendous awareness, has looked limitations straight in the eye and has done everything possible to improve as of late, and that's what I want to talk about. He's had really good approaches against left-handed pitching. It's about improving each and every day, and Jake's done a tremendous job and deserves so much credit for what he's done."
The Dodgers chose to intentionally walk A.J. Pollock with runners on second and third to load the bases for a lefty-lefty matchup between Watson and Lamb, even though he had smashed a solo homer off righty Pedro Baez one inning earlier.
"I've been working quite a bit on lefties," Lamb said. "But it's one at-bat, and I wanna keep improving, especially with them picking up Watson and [lefty reliever Tony Cingrani]. That's what they're gonna do. They're gonna bring them in to face me with guys in scoring position. I know that. So, all you can do is work on it."
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.