A Taylor Clarke start against the Baltimore Orioles this season wouldn’t exactly qualify as prime excitement. In full disclosure I know probably two players on Baltimore’s roster. It’s not difficult to understand why they’re one of the worst teams in the league. Still, a day at the ballpark beats any day at the office. Thanks to edbigghead I was able to play hooky and hear him heckle players into oblivion. That undoubtedly is prime entertainment.
Fortunately, Clarke was a better pitcher today than he has been for most of the season. For the first time since his first two MLB starts on May 7th & May 25th, he managed to complete the sixth inning. It’s been nearly routine to see him lifted from the game in the fourth inning since those two starts in May, but today was a step in the right direction for him. Clarke didn’t allow the first Baltimore Orioles hit until their ninth batter of the game, who just happened to be their pitcher John Means. Tim Locastro made a beautiful diving grab in left field against the first Orioles batter in the game, Jonathan Villar. Clarke set down the side in order in the top of the first and second, but Baltimore drew first blood in the bottom of the fourth when Anthony Santander hit a solo home run to left center field with one out.
Arizona answered with a louder bark in the bottom half of the fourth with a shot over the fence of their own. Adam Jones singled to right field to lead off the inning, and Nick Ahmed drew a one out walk. This brought Carson Kelly to the plate who promptly hit his twelfth home run of the season to left field giving Arizona the 3-1 lead. The struggles that plagued Orioles starting pitcher John Means were unusual as he’s arguably been one of their best players this season. However, he wouldn’t continue beyond the bottom of the fourth. Following the three run home run Means gave up a single to Clarke and walked Locastro. Orioles manager Brandon Hyde declined to let him go further into the game and reached into his bullpen. Gabriel Ynoa loaded the bases but did not allow the D’backs any further scoring in the bottom of the fourth.
Clarke responded to the run support by again retiring the side in order in the fifth. He was off to a great start in the sixth setting down Rio Ruiz and Jonathan Villar, but got tagged by Trey Mancini for Baltimore’s second solo home run of the game. Two pitches later Santander laced a double off the right field wall, which might have been caught by a younger Adam Jones, prompting a mound visit from Mike Butcher. Clarke struck out the final batter of the inning resulting in a new career high 7 K’s in a single game. Just as they did in the fourth inning, Arizona answered Baltimore’s home run with their own in the bottom of the sixth. Ketel Marte became the first D’backs player in franchise history with ten or more home runs from both sides of the plate in a season with his 22nd of the year. That pushed the score 4-2 and further solidified Ketel’s breakout this season.
From that point on in the game, Yoshihisa Hirano, Archie Bradley, and Greg Holland nearly blew the lead and series finale. Hirano had the seventh and allowed the first two Orioles to reach on a single and a walk. Hirano struck out Chris Davis, who was heckled rightfully so by edbigghead, and Richie (Ricky?) Martin. Pinch hitter Stevie Wilkerson reached on an infield single to load the bases, but a Villar ground out ended the threat there. Arizona scored an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh on a bases loaded walk by Marte. Bradley had the eighth and was at least able to retire the first two batters he faced on back to back strikeouts, but it almost felt too good to be true. And it was because a walk, single, and hit by pitch would load the bases with two outs for the second inning in a row. That brought the $17 million dollar per year man Chris Davis to the plate who allowed edbigghead to get in between his ears and struck out to end the inning.
With that out of the way the three run save was all that was left for closer Greg Holland. He’d converted five straight this month since his back to back blown opportunities against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the beginning of the month. His fastball velocity was down and he walked the first two and only batters he faced. Balls two and four against Hanser Alberto were borderline calls which drew Holland from the mound to argue with home plate umpire Nic Lentz. Lentz showed great restraint in not ejecting the closer and let him have his peace, if only because he knew Torey Lovullo was going to pull him from the game regardless. Lovullo turned to Yoan Lopez in hopes to to close the door and correct his own struggles. He did exactly that registering three quick flyouts on only four pitches for his first career save completing the 5-2 series finale victory.
Predator of the Sky: Carson Kelly- 1-for-3, 3 run HR, BB
Predator on the Ground: Ketel Marte- 2-for-4, solo home run, bases loaded walk
Prey: Yoshihisa Hirano, Archie Bradley, Greg Holland- 4 walks, 3 hits allowed in two innings
Total comments: 195
Total commenters: 22
Commenter list: AZPerson, AzDbackfanInDc, BobDolio, DORRITO, DeadManG, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Johnneu, MesaDBacksFan, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, Rockkstarr12, Schilling2001, SenSurround, Snake_Bitten, Sprankton, Xerostomia, edbigghead, gamepass, gzimmerm, onedotfive
No red comments in a really light GDT. Edbigghead definitely gets CoTD for his tireless and amusing heckling during the game. I honestly think Chris Davis and Greg Holland may announce a joint retirement after today.