Calling up starter Braden Shipley, but opting to put career reliever (MLB starts = 2) T.J. McFarland on the mound to start the game was a choice by Torey Lovullo best described as “unusual”. But, it seems like just about every decision Lovullo has made lately, it backfired spectacularly. McFarland was charged with seven earned runs while retiring ONE batter, making it the worst start by a Diamondbacks’ pitcher in more than 17 years. Indeed, this was only the fourth time in franchise history that our starter had failed to get through the first inning - though was not quite the worst. Here are the details of the previous three:
- Byung-Hyun Kim: Aug 14, 2007 @ FLA. 0.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO. I thought Mrs. SnakePit and I were at this one, wearing Kim jerseys. But turns out that was his previous start (2.1 IP, 5 R). At least manager Bob Melvin had the good courtesy to yank the plug quickly, lifting Kim after only 17 pitches. He was released the next morning.
- Juan Cruz: May 17, 2006 vs. SDP. 0.2 IP, 5 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO. In terms of Game Score (4) this was the worst quick hook we’ve ever had. There have been lower (negative, even) Game Scores for Arizona, but none in less than an inning. The D-backs actually made a game of it, closing to within one run after six, before losing 14-10.
- Armando Reynoso: Apr 23, 2000 vs. SFG. 0.0 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. At least McFarland retired a batter this afternoon. Reynoso did not, all seven he faced reaching base, and eventually coming round to score. Only one MLB starter since has done worse; the Reds’ Paul Wilson was charged with 8 ER without retiring a batter in July 2003. And, bizarrely, did it again in May 2005.
That’s the kind of level of epic fail reached by the Diamondbacks this afternoon in Minnesota. McFarland was lifted with the team already 5-0 down, but men still on the corners and one out for the Twins. Braden Shipley entered, got a fly-ball for the second out, then walked his next batter to load the bases. One grand-slam followed, making the score 9-0 to Minnesota after one inning. Over the 17 frames from the second inning of Friday’s opener to this point, they had outscored Arizona by a 24-0 margin. The Twins would tack one more on in the third, making it 25 consecutive unanswered runs before J.D. Martinez homered in the fourth.
That started a brief resurrection by Arizona, with another homer by Brandon Drury, an Adam Rosales RBI double and a Jake Lamb bomb making the score 10-4. Shipley pitched through the sixth inning, allowing five runs (one unearned) on seven hits and two walks, with three strikeouts. At 5.2 innings, this was tied for the fourth-longest relief outing in franchise history, behind a pair of six inning outings (Josh Collmenter and Vidal Nuno, in 2013 and 2015 respectively), and Randy Johnson’s seven-inning “power outage” appearance against the Padres in 2001, which really deserves an asterisk because it took place the day after the game started.
We then got to see the major-league debut of Jimmie Sherfy, called up from Reno just this morning. He worked a clean seventh inning, with a pair of strikeouts. Then, Ron Gardenhire sent Daniel Descalso out for his second emergency outing of the year, following his scoreless inning on Aug 1. It’s weird: you wait 8+ years for a D-backs position player to pitch, then see it twice in one month. Descalso completed another perfect 1-2-3 inning, meaning Arizona position players now have a 1.29 ERA, with Mark Grace having been the only one to allow a run, during his famous channeling of Mike Fetters back in 2002.
Wait, Ron Gardenhire? What happened to Lovullo? Well, he was ejected in the top of the seventh inning. Reading between the lines, it appears the D-backs were not impressed by Byron Buxton stealing second base, while his team had an eight-run lead in the fifth inning. A Twins’ batter was then drilled with two outs and the bases empty in the sixth, and a Minnesota reliever then came well inside with the first pitch of the seventh. Warnings were issues, and Lovullo apparently expressed himself in sufficiently unimpressed terms to earn a trip to the locker-room. Didn’t he get the memo? Or see the arm-bands? Umpires are sensitive souls, who cannot be argued with!
The D-backs delivered some very bitter-tasting tacos in the ninth inning, with David Peralta driving in Drury, who had picked up his third hit of the day. But after a good showing in the Houston series, this was a brutal comedown for the D-backs, who were outscored 27-8 over the course of this three-game sweep. They are still in the second wild-card spot, and do have a bit of a breather in schedule terms, facing the Mets and Giants over the next week. But if they play anything like the way they did this series, that may not be enough to save them. It’s their seventh consecutive defeat by 4+ runs, so hard to argue they’ve been unlucky losers.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Zeppelin: A.J. Pollock, +3.3%
Led: T.J. McFarland, -37.6%
I’m sure the Gameday Thread was a warm and comforting place. Present were: AzDbackfanInDc, BigSmarty, Cumulus Choir, DORRITO, DbacKid, DeadManG, DesertWeagle, Diamondhacks, Fangdango, Gilbertsportsfan, GuruB, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, LamparT, Makakilo, MrMrrbi, Oldenschoole, PaulGoldsmith, Sprankton, TheGoldenSombrero, Xerostomia, hotclaws, megnetic, ofx1, onedotfive, smartplays and tiptill2017. No comment of the game. In fact, let us never speak of this contest again.
On to New York go the Diamondbacks - except for Shipley, who was already optioned back to Reno. The road-trip finishes with four against the Mets, beginning as Taijuan Walker takes the mound for Arizona tomorrow, with first pitch at 4:10pm Arizona time. For those of us not blinded by the eclipse, at any rate!