It’s been awhile since my last recap, and so I was hoping for a good outing from Merrill Kelly and a fun, lively game from the rest of the squad. Sadly, however, it was not to be. Kelly was facing off against reigning AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell. Kelly didn’t have his best stuff, and didn’t get any help from the home plate umpire, but Snell made it clear from the outset that he was locked in, retiring the first three Diamondbacks he faced with only nine pitches, racking up two strikeouts. Yeah, it was all like that.
Kelly, on the other hand, started shaky, and it only got shakier. Rays leadoff hitter Brandon Lowe led off with a five-pitch walk, which Tommy Pham followed with a single to shallow left. The good guys just missed turning a double play on the next pitch, but Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi beat out the throw, allowing Lowe to score from first. Kelly did manage to induce a double play to the next batter, Yandy Diaz, putting an end to a threat that could have turned out far worse than it did. 1-0 Rays
The middle of the Diamondbacks went down quietly in order in the top of the second as well, though they made Snell throw twelve whole pitches (!!!) to get it done.
In the bottom of the frame, meanwhile, Kelly failed to dodge the crooked number bullet a second time. Three of the first four batters reached, sandwiched around a flyout by Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermeyer. Then Kelly walked in a run with a six-pitch walk to the guy in the Ray’s nine-spot. Kelly bounced back to strike out Brandon Lowe for the second out, and it began to feel like he might wriggle off the hook again. But nope. Tommy Pham took the second pitch he saw from Kelly and deposited over the wall in straightaway center for the grand slam. 6-0 Rays
Things started to get a bit grim in the Game Day thread at about this point, I gotta say. Snell continued to cruise, retiring the next nine batters he faced and carrying a perfect game through the fifth. Kelly gave up another run in the third on a leadoff double from Yandy Diaz. He did manage to set the Rays down in order in the fourth, but he was 94 pitches by then, so his night was done and he was replaced by Zack Godley working his first game out of the bullpen. 7-0 Rays
We starting getting predictions in the GDT, regarding the perfect game, two of which, rather remarkably, came true in the sixth. First there was this:
That was followed, some time later, by this:
Both of these came true in back-to-back at bats in the sixth, as Ildemaro Vargas broke up the perfect game with a single to left. Tim Locastro followed with one of his trademark hit-by-pitches. No runs were scored, but Snell’s perfect game got spoiled, and he exited after finishing up the inning.
Godley, meanwhile, looked fairly good in his first two innings of relief work, putting up zeros and not using a bunch of pitches to do it. His seventh inning was another story, though, as he racked up two outs sandwiched around a walk, but then gave up three consecutive hits that scored three more runs. 10-0 Rays
John Ryan Murphy, relief pitcher of last resort, came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth, and as one might expect, gave up two more runs on an almost-dinger to Nate Lowe that was followed by a genuine dinger to Avisail Garcia. 12-0 Rays
In the eleventh hour, though, the Diamondbacks did manage to get on the board, though it was only due to a Rays error. Blake Swihart hit a one-out single, Carson Kelly followed with a walk, and then Adam Jones hit a grounder to third that might have been a game-ender, except Rays third baseman Andrew Velasquez fluffed the throw, allowing Swihart to score and Jones to reach second. That was it, though. Sad times. 12-1 Rays
Bells and Whistles, from Fangraphs
UPDATE: I almost forgot about this part. Perhaps amusingly, there was only a single Diamondbacks player who contributed a positive WPA tonight. So, here’s what we got:
A Small Red Helium Balloon Set Free into the Florida Sky by a Waifish Child: Zack Godley, +0.1% WPA
The Hindenburg: Merrill Kelly, -35.4% WPA
For such a grim game that went south so early, we had quite a robust and fun Game Day Thread—341 comments!—with gallows humor to spare! Present and accounted for (including a couple of friendly Rays fans who dropped by to chat) were: AzDbackfanInDc, Dano_in_Tucson, David Kristoffer, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Hannibal4467, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Jimmy Pop SD, JoeCB1991, Makakilo, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, NikT77, RAYS_UP, Rockkstarr12, Samburt, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, VeeLoh, edbigghead, kilnborn, onedotfive
Hannibal (or should I say Hanstradamus?) led the way with 67 comments. CoTN, judging by the Sedona Red, goes to MikeMono, for throwing some of the only shade we could throw on a team that outclassed us tonight:
Still, it’s only one game, so let’s see if we can’t bounce back tomorrow. Start time is again 4:10pm AZ time, so tune in for Taylor Clarke’s first major league start as he takes the mound! Thanks for reading!