After last week’s offensive struggles, it very much felt like we needed a bounce-back game today. We’ve owned the Pirates so far this season, so this seemed like as good a chance as any to get it going again, with Robbie Ray taking the mound and coming off a very good start against Tampa in his last time out.
Sadly, the game did not begin auspiciously for our boys. Leadoff batter Adam Frazier reached on a Christian Walker error, which I suspect threw a bit of a wrench into Ray’s mindset. He retired the next batter on a pop-out to Nick Ahmed, but then surrendered three straight singles to the heart of the Pirates’ order. Frazier scored on a single to right by Pittsburgh cleanup hitter Josh Bell, and then Melky Cabrera scored on a single to left by Pirates third baseman Bryan Reynolds. None of the hits were hit particularly hard, either—they just kept finding holes. Robbie did seem to get a hold of himself after that, striking out the sixth and seventh batters in the Pirates order to stop the bleeding. Still, with only a half inning done, Ray had already thrown 26 pitches and it was already 2-0 Pirates.
No worries, though, as it turned out that the Diamondback had brought their bats (and their running shoes) to the park today. Jarrod Dyson led of the home half with a single to center off Pirates starter Nick Kingham, then promptly stole second. Eduardo Escobar then fouled out to third, failing to advance Dyson, but that was fine: with David Peralta at bat, Dyson decided to steal third as well. Peralta then singled to left, scoring Dyson. Ketel Marte, batting fifth tonight, then hit a hustle double to center, scoring Peralta from first. Somewhat disappointingly, the scoring ended there, as Christian Walker struck out and Ahmed flew out to center to put an end to Kingham’s 36-pitch first inning ordeal. 2-2 TIE
Ray still appeared a bit shaky in the second, giving up a one-out walk to the Pirates’ pitcher, and allowing a follow-up single to Adam Frazier. He struck out Starling Marte, though, and induced Cabrera to pop out to Ketel Marte at second to end the threat. It added another 22 pitches to his pitch count, though, which was less than ideal.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks were ready to score some more runs. Alex Avila led off the inning with a nine-pitch walk, and was promptly moved to second by a supremely competent first-pitch bunt by Robbie Ray. Dyson singled again, this time to right, allowing Avila to make his slow and lumbering way to third base. This led to some gentle mockery in the Game Day Thread, but then Escobar distracted everyone by crushing a triple to the corner in right that just missed being a dinger. Still, two more runs in.
Peralta followed with a double to the same part of the ball park, scoring EE. It seemed like maybe we could have/should have added more, but Adam Jones flew out to center and Marte grounded out to second. 5-2 D-BACKS
Robbie Ray, happily, settled into a nice little groove over the next two innings, pitching a 13-pitch 3rd inning that retired the side in order despite another Bryan Reynolds single, and then a 9-pitch 4th that included two 3-pitch strikouts that were #799 and #800 of Robbie’s career.
Meanwhile, our offense continued to add on against the inexplicably still-pitching Kingham, who surrendered another run in the third on a Christian Walker double high up on the wall in straightaway center and, one out later, an Alex Avila RBI single to right. 6-2 D-BACKS
Then Escobar tacked on another with a leadoff dinger to start the fourth:
Robbie Ray ran into some traffic again in the fifth inning, giving up a one-out triple to Starling Marte and working through a couple of long at bats. He didn’t give up another run, but his pitch count was now sufficiently high that he was done for the night, with a line of 5IP, 2R, 1ER, 6H, 2BB, 6K. It would have been nice to see him go deeper into the game, but still, it was a good start and a nice bit of work from him, settling down after the rocky first inning.
Meanwhile, the Pirates’ pitching staff continued to have their difficulties, as reliever Michael Feliz (finally replacing Kingham to start the fifth) walked Ahmed to start the inning, surrendered a double to Alex Avila that got Ahmed to third, and then balked in a run. Sad times for Pirates fans. Hee. 8-2 D-BACKS
Finally, in the sixth, we failed to score a run for the first inning of the ball game, but that’s okay...I think we might have been getting tired of all that time on the bases. We didn’t go quietly in the seventh, however, as Christian Walker led off the inning with a bang:
The side went in order after that, but piling on a bit more is never a bad thing. 9-2 D-BACKS
Meanwhile, our bullpen did its business respectably enough through the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. Matt Andriese pitched a 1-2-3 sixth, which was nice to see. Newly-recalled Jimmy Sherfy came out to start the seventh, and made everyone very nervous by giving up three straight singles to start the inning. Then, like a boss, he sat down Melky Cabrera, Josh Bell, and Bryan Reynolds with consecutive strikeouts to end the threat. He pitched the eighth as well, recording two more Ks while pitching around another single. A stressful outing, but also an impressive one.
Then, to pitch the ninth, out came Archie. SIGH. Broadly speaking, he did what we have come to expect, which is to say he got an out, and then gave up a single, then a double, then another single, surrendering a run. He managed to get it together after that, though, so that was all the damage, and it’s a lot less alarming seeing him take the mound with a seven-run lead. Final score 9-3 D-BACKS.
Win Probability, courtesy of FanGraphs:
Papillon (1973): Eduardo Escobar (3H, 3B, HR, 3RBI) +15.4% WPA
The Great Escape (1963): Jarrod Dyson (2H, 2R, 2SB) +12.0% WPA
Papillon (2017): Nick Ahmed -4.4% WPA; Christian Walker, -4.4% WPA
Another relatively lively Monday night Game Day Thread: 326 comments and 24 commenters, with ShirtOffYourBack leading the way with 41 comments. All present and accounted for were:
AZPerson, Dano_in_Tucson, GuruB, Hannibal4467, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Johnneu, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Rockkstarr12, ShirtOffYourBack, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, Sprankton, asteroid, chronicles_of_the_desert, edbigghead, onedotfive, ponus, since_98, suroeste
As for the CotG tonight, we had a few contenders that made it into Sedona Red territory (which was nice to see—we should all rec more!), but this one by Smurf1000 wins not only because it received the most recs, but also because the brilliant deadpan of it allowed it to initially drop into the comment stream with nary a ripple. Poor Alex Avila, slow as molasses...we love you anyway!
Tomorrow we go for the series win, with dreamy Luke Weaver taking the mound against righthander Joe Musgrove, at 6:40 Arizona time! As always, thanks for reading! Go D-Backs!