Buying? Selling? Where the decision will land, who really knows? Quality of play that resembles a roller coaster ride has kept the D’backs both in the hunt and mediocre at the same time all season. The start to the series against the Miami Marlins has done nothing to change this. Last night Arizona failed to provide adequate run support behind a strong start from their ace Zack Greinke, and watched their closer Greg Holland blow a one run save. This afternoon Arizona overmatched the lowly Marlins with a starter, Alex Young, who is on the major league roster out of necessity due to a combination of injuries and ineffectiveness from others.
Young was rather stellar for much of this start as he has been for roughly the duration of his time in the MLB this season. Miami did get to Young right from the get go on a solo home run to left field from Miguel Rojas to lead off the bottom of the first. That would be the only run he would allow until the bottom of the seventh. Alex faced only the minimum required from innings two through five. Meanwhile, Miami starter Jordan Yamamoto denied a D’backs baserunner through the first three innings allowing the first half of this game to be played at a brisk pace.
Yamamoto abruptly hit a wall in the top of the fourth inning and would not pitch past that point in the game. He walked Jarrod Dyson and Ketel Marte to begin the fourth leading to a mound visit which was of no assistance to his psyche. Eduardo Escobar followed with a single to right field bringing in Dyson. An errant throw home allowed Marte and Escobar to each advance a base. David Peralta drove in Marte with a ground out to first giving Arizona a 2-1 lead. Yamamoto did not use that out as a momentum builder and put the nail in his own coffin by hitting Christian Walker with a pitch and walking Jake Lamb. That brought Nick Ahmed to the plate with one out who promptly hit the second grand slam of his career, 366 days after his first career grand slam. Yamamoto, who had been perfect through the first three innings, suddenly allowed Arizona to storm ahead with a 6-1 lead with only two hits in the inning. Watching the Marlins unravel should quickly remind us all that matters can always be worse.
Miami turned to Wei-Yin Chen in relief in the fifth who struck out three of the first five batters he faced. Arizona added two runs to their lead off of Chen in the sixth in surprising fashion. With one out and Peralta on first, Lamb drove the lefty Chen to a full count and then took him yard to center field for a two run shot. That was only Lamb’s twelfth home run off of a southpaw in over four hundred plate appearances against them in his career.
As stated above, Alex Young was in cruise control from innings two through five. He even quickly retired the first two Marlins in the sixth, but things got dicey for him from there. Two quick singles and a walk loaded the bases with two outs, but Young induced a Jorge Alfaro groundout to end the threat. Perhaps running out of gas the Marlins were able to notch quick hits against him again in the bottom of the seventh. Harold Ramirez opened the frame with a lead off single and was driven in from first base on a double to left field from former Diamondback, Martin Prado. That brought the score to 8-2 and ended Alex Young’s day in line for his fourth win in his fifth start. As effective as his start was today, he did allow eight hits which has been the most he has surrendered all season. Something to keep an eye on going forward if opposing hitters begin to figure him out. Stefan Crichton was called upon from the bullpen and quickly dispatched of the Marlins without further noise in the bottom of the seventh.
There was some drama in the top of the eighth between Miami and Arizona which resulted in both benches clearing. Miami reliever Tayron Guerrero uncorked a wild pitch hitting poor Christian Walker for the second time in the game. The act was obviously unintentional, it appeared Guerrero had no idea where the pitch was going after it was released, but it had understandably upset Walker. Walker did not direct his frustration toward Guerrero on the mound or even bother to look in his direction, but his teammates in the dugout were barking in his defense. Guerrero seemed to perceive that as a threat and stepped off the mound waving the D’backs dugout onto the field to which they obliged. No punches were thrown and the entire ordeal lasted less than two minutes, but both teams were warned by the umpires. Guerrero’s hit by pitch almost immediately came back against his favor again thanks to Ahmed. Ahmed nearly hit his second home run of the game, knocking a double off the top of the left field wall. That scored Tim Locastro from first who had come into the game as a pinch runner for Walker. Arizona maintained the 9-2 lead to victory where the series is now tied at one game apiece.
Panic Maker: Nick Ahmed +17.5 WPA, 2-for-4, grand slam, double five runs batted in
Liquidator: Alex Young +4% WPA, six innings pitched, two earned runs allowed
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