Before we get started tonight, on behalf of AZ Snake Pit I want to offer sincere condolences to Jody Jackson of Fox Sports Arizona who lost her father, Joseph, today. He is surely proud of everything you have accomplished, and we are sorry for your loss.
The last time Robbie Ray took the mound was exactly one week ago in San Diego. Although he essentially hit a wall in the fifth inning of that game and was restrained to five innings again tonight, he was in far better control this time around. His opponent on the mound for the Texas Rangers was the massive Lance Lynn who entered the game a perfect 5-0 in nine career starts against the D’backs with a 2.95 ERA.
Big Game Bob Ray did not allow a Rangers baserunner until the fifth inning and carried a no hit bid through to the sixth. At one point, he struck out five straight Rangers hitters in a row. It feels odd saying this about Robbie, but he was efficient early again needing only 41 pitches to complete his first three innings. His velocity trended back upwards from where it was in San Diego from 92 MPH to his usual 94 MPH. To be honest, some of his success tonight could be attributed to Rangers batters being unfamiliar in facing him as he overmatched them most of the evening. Robbie struck out a total of ten hitters this evening, but was matched by Lynn who struck out nine over six innings pitched, a pitchers duel between both men.
Ketel Marte led off the second inning with a single and advanced to second base on an errant pickoff attempt with no outs, but Arizona failed to advance him past that point. However, the good guys did get on the board first in the bottom of the third. Eduardo Escobar drew a 1 out full count walk, his second of the game to that point. It had been windy in the Phoenix metro area all day today, and with the roof open at Chase Field David Peralta sliced a fly ball to the left field corner. It bounced over the wall for a ground rule double giving Arizona the 1-0 lead. Eduardo Escobar just barely missed a solo home run off the right field foul pole in the fifth, but the winds in Chase Field just barely forced the ball to the wrong side.
That score held until the top of the sixth inning. As mentioned above, Ray did not allow a baserunner until the fifth inning and carried a no hitter into the sixth. The first Rangers baserunner, Asdrubal Cabrera, reached on a fielding error by Eduardo Escobar who clanked the ball off of his glove. Ray immediately followed that by walking Isiah Kiner-Falefa seemingly losing focus after the error. A quick mound visit corrected course and Ray struck out Patrick Wisdom and Lance Lynn in succession to end the frame without any damage. With a pitch count then approaching the 90’s, Robbie allowed back to back singles in the top of the sixth, the first Rangers hits of the game, allowing Texas to tie the game at one apiece. Delino DeShields led off with a single to left center, then attempted to steal second, but was able to advance all the way to third on an errant throw from Carson Kelly. Former Los Angeles Dodger Logan Forsythe followed with another single that glanced just off the outstretched glove of Nick Ahmed scoring DeShields.
Lovullo removed Ray from the game with his pitch count at 95, going to Yoan Lopez out of the pen who failed to retire either of the two batters he faced. Lopez gave up a ground rule double in the left field corner to Elvis Andrus, almost identical to Peralta’s earlier, and then loaded the bases by walking Hunter Pence. Andrew Chafin was called to face slugging left handed batter Joey Gallo with the bases loaded and no outs.
Recall what Sean Testerman wrote about Chafin just a few days ago:
Andrew Chafin is a good reliever and is often underrated by fans. He gets strikeouts at a very good clip and he is fantastic at surpressing home runs. In fact, he gave up zero homers last season in 49.1 IP... In the last 2 years, Andrew Chafin has inherited the 4th-most runners in baseball, with 87... Therein lies the problem with Chafin: we’re back to the problem where negative memories far outweigh the positive ones. When you’re being thrown into so many situations where you have a lot of baserunners on, you’re occasionally going to fail. And these are the memories that so many fans seem to keep in their mind regarding Chafin, all-the-while disregarding everything good Chafin has done. Chafin is a good reliever and needs to be used more
Sean couldn’t have been more accurate for Chafin was tough as nails tonight and in a difficult situation. He struck out Joey Gallo, who would later go on to earn a golden sombrero in the game. Chafin then slammed the door shut by forcing Asdrubal Cabrera to ground into a double play. From bases loaded and no outs, to no additional runs scored. Tip of the cap to Chafin because as Sean said we definitely give him more grief than he deserves.
Unfortunately, the relievers who followed Chafin were less spectacular allowing the Rangers to claw their way to a victory. Chafin issued a lead off walk to Kiner-Falefa in the seventh inning who advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Chafin notched the second out of the inning by getting pinch hitter Shin-Soo Choo to fly out to left field. Enter Archie Bradley with the task of earning the final out of the inning without allowing another run. It would not be as he gave up another DeShields single, Bradley not being able to prevent his inherited runner from scoring giving Texas the 2-1 lead. Having secured only the final out of the seventh Bradley was sent back out for the eighth. He sandwiched a Hunter Pence solo home run into the pool in between striking out Andrus, Gallo, and Cabrera extending the Texas lead 3-1.
Matt Andriese came on to pitch the top of the ninth after throwing two innings of scoreless ball last night. He was not nearly as successful recording only a single out while allowing two earned runs on three hits and a walk pushing the scoring gap 5-1 in favor of Texas. Matt Koch mopped up the rest of the ninth preventing Texas from further scoring.
The bottom of the ninth inning was quite frankly the most interesting aspect of this game from the perspective of a D’backs fan. Rangers closer Jose Leclerc, who had his first blown save last night since July 25th of last year, provided the drama and excitement again tonight. The Diamondbacks have done remarkably well coming from behind and securing walk offs in this early season. I am a firm believer that repeated success in those situations this early in the season can carry on for a team as the year progresses. Arizona has this feeling around them that they will not lay down and die until after the final out is made. It showed again this evening.
Ildemaro Vargas began the bottom of the ninth with a lead off single. Leclerc then threw two straight balls against Carson Kelly before hitting him on the left triceps with a pitch. On the very next pitch, he hit Adam Jones on the hip, thus loading the bases with no outs. Wilmer Flores popped out behind the catcher for the first out of the inning setting the stage for an exciting rematch with last night’s hero, Jarrod Dyson. Less flare from Dyson tonight as he drew a full count walk bringing in Arizona’s second run of the game and putting the winning run at the plate. Leclerc was pulled from the game at that point in favor of left hander Kyle Bird with Escobar on deck on Peralta in the hole. Escobar drew a full count himself, his fourth of the game, but ultimately struck out. Peralta watched the first two pitches go for a ball. With two outs and the bases juiced, he laced a liner down the right field line. It would have bounced right on the chalk and tied the game with Dyson running at first, but Forsythe made a diving grab to painfully end the game in defeat.
Despite the loss, I’m surely not alone in saying that it was a thrill to watch the D’backs offense in the bottom of the ninth attempt to stage yet another comeback. Had Forsythe been a few more inches off the line, that liner from Peralta likely gets down in time. The whole game was truly one of inches. Escobar’s foul ball just barely missed being fair in the fifth and would have given Arizona a 2-0 lead. Ahmed could have snared Forsythe’s single in the sixth to keep the game scoreless. That’s just pure, fun baseball despite the outcome in retrospect. Instead, the Rangers earned the victory 5-2.
Stars of the game:
Robbie Ray - 5 IP, 10 K’s, 2 hits, 1 walk
Andrew Chafin - +33% WPA
Wind blowing in the wrong direction:
Christian Walker - -16.7% WPA, golden sombrero 4 K’s
Hey! I’ve got a functioning roll call now. 464 total comments from 27 posters tonight. Nearly a third of the comments coming from DC, so I’d say that is midseason form! No Sedona red comments, so do better next time!
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