Let’s start that recap over. shall we?
Record: 59-57. Pace: 82-80. Change on 2018: -5.
In the event - still less than likely - that the Diamondbacks make it into the post-season this year, tonight’s victory may well be the pivotal point. Carson Kelly single-handedly rescued what would have been a dispiriting defeat, in which the Diamondbacks gave up only two hits and went an inept 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position. But Kelly tied the game with his 15th home-run of the season in the ninth inning, off Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen, then added his 16th in the eleventh, scoring what turned out to be the eventual winning run. All this, and the benches clearing after the final pitch of the game. Yep, what looked like a recap to struggle after eight innings, probably more or less writes itself.
After both pitchers started off with 1-2-3 innings in the first, the second inning saw Walker Buehler lose control. In 253 batters faced by Buehler at Dodger Stadium this year, he had walked only four (while striking out 86). It was therefore unexpected that he loaded the bases for the Diamondbacks without a hit, on two bases on balls and a (slightly) hit batter, Jake Lamb taking a grazing blow off the knee. However, this is the National League, which meant that it was Robbie Ray who came up with the bases loaded and two out. He went down swinging, and all Arizona were left with was having got Buehler’s pitch count up into the forties by the middle of the second.
Worse was to follow for the Diamondbacks, in a third inning which basically decided the game. In it, Arizona failed to take advantage of their opportunity, while Los Angeles did. It began with Jarrod Dyson and Ketel Marte leading off the top of the inning with back-to-back singles, giving the D-backs runners on the corners with nobody out. It feels like this kind of situation is where we have struggled in 2019 But with a man on third and fewer than two outs, the numbers show that Arizona’s OPS is actually a healthy .809, fifth-best in the National League. More problematic though, the 77 runs we’ve scored in those situation is only 10th-best.
And so it proved this evening, as Eduardo Escobar and Christian Walker each struck out swinging on three pitches, around a David Peralta line-out to short. The Dodgers then responded with a lesson in converting men on base. A lead-off double and walk was followed by a sacrifice bunt from Buehler, a sacrifice fly from some guy called Pollock, about whom I know nothing, and an RBI double. Those two doubles were the only hits Los Angeles would get off Arizona, but they’d be enough. Ray can hardly be blamed for another solid outing, especially outside that third inning. He ended up going six innings, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks (one intentional), with seven strikeouts.
Even after Buehler left the game, business continued as usual for the D-backs offense in the seventh and eighth. They squandered a lead-off single from Wilmer Flores, and with one out in the eighth, Christian Walker TOOTBLAN’d into an out, though that did take a very nice play by Cody Bellinger in right-field. The D-backs were down to their final three outs, on the verge of losing 2-0 and tying the franchise record for fewest hits allowed in a loss. That had been set on June 1, 2002 - by coincidence, also a 2-0 defeat to LA in Dodger Stadium. Brian Anderson took the loss there; again, both the LA hits + runs came in the same inning (the fourth there), a Cesar Izturis single followed by a Brian Jordan homer.
CARSON KELLY, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!!!! We are tied in LA. pic.twitter.com/60oVEYcslV— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) August 10, 2019
But what does Carson Kelly say to the god of history repeating itself? “Not today.” Still, dammit: I looked up those damn stats, and I’m going to use them, regardless. Nick Ahmed got the rally started with a lead-off single, and Kelly followed with his second home-run off Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen this year, tying thing up. One out later, things potentially got even more amusing, as Jarrod Dyson laid down a beautiful bunt single and stole second. However, Marte grounded out and Escobar - who really seems to be having issues laying off pitches above the strikezone - struck out swinging to ensure the game remained tied. Arizona were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position to this point, but were still in it.
On the other side of the coin, the D-backs’ pitching staff were having themselves a bit of a night. After an intentional walk to Bellinger in the third inning, Ray retired former D-back Kristopher Negron, traded to the Dodgers from the Mariners in late August, with the bases loaded, ending the frame. Ray then sat down LA in order in the fourth. And the fifth. And the sixth, so ended the night by getting the last ten batters faced. The bullpen then took over, in the shape of T.J. McFarland (four batters faced, four retired), Kevin Ginkel (2/2), Yoan Lopez (1/1) and Andrew Chafin (5/5). All told, that’s twenty-two consecutive Dodgers retired by Arizona, covering 71⁄3 perfect inning through the end of the tenth.
Enter Carson Kelly. Exit baseball (above). Yes, again. It was all very reminiscent of the game in which Paul Goldschmidt - the player traded for Kelly - hit a game-tying home-run in the ninth, and then a go-head homer in the eleventh, against the Orioles in 2013. The legend which is Kelly certainly grew another pant size tonight. That brought Archie Bradley in for the ninth inning, and after a lead-off walk, he retired the next three Dodgers in order, to close out his third save of the season. Well, while that’s technically the truth, it doesn’t quite capture what happened...
After getting two strikes on Pollock, Bradley threw a strike up and in, that pinged off... something, popped straight up in the air and was caught by Kelly. The home-plate umpire called Pollock out, saying the ball had hit the knob of the bat. But Pollock said it was his hand, and trotted to first. The headsets went on, and after consultation, the call stood - I think, fair enough, it really looked like it got wood. Pollock dragged his heels crossing the diamond back to the Dodgers dugout. Bradley chirped at him to... please increase his pace a little, and Pollock chirped back. Archie got Justin Turner to line out to third, and struck out Will Smith to end the game.
But that was not the end of the fireworks. Archie and the Dodgers dugout continued to exchange words, and the benches cleared, though with nothing more than aggravated yelling going on. Robbie Ray - dressed in shorts and a T-shirt - rejoined the fray, and caused Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts to go into “Get off my damn lawn!” mode. [Ray said it was Roberts who started it] That sparked another round of intensive strolling towards the opposition by both teams, before everyone finally left the field, in time for the fireworks (aerial variety) to start at Dodger Stadium. An unexpected ending - though one perhaps fitting on the golden anniversary of one of the most infamous events in Los Angeles history.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Marilyn Manson: Carson Kelly, +68.1%
Daisy Berkowitz: Chafin, +19.6%; Bradley, +17.9%
Charles Manson: Eduardo Escobar, -28.4%
Squeaky Fromme: Walker, -25.3%; Ahmed, -11.4%
That Kelly WP... Not QUITE the highest of the year, trailing Dyson’s walk-off winner against the Rangers in April, which was +70.4%. But impressive. Present in the Gameday Thread were: Augdogs, AzRattler, BigSmarty, DORRITO, DeadManG, DesertWeagle, Gore4HOF, GuruB, Jack Sommers, James Patrick Kim, Jim McLennan, Johnneu, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeDavisAZ, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Rockkstarr12, Schilling2001, Sprankton, Theolser4, Totally Not Blind Squirrel, but still I apologize, William Kubas, dbrowell, edbigghead, jchun8, kilnborn, onedotfive, pyroman168, rustynails77, since_98 and suroeste. Comment of the night to Michael:
Can’t argue with the accuracy of that, though I hope Theolser4 made it out of Dodger Stadium alive, considering his last comment was, “Welp after that finish. Gonna get guaranteed stabbed. Dodgers fans r pissed and drunk”... [Late update: “In the car safe”. Good to hear] The win was important, as most of the other teams in the wild-card chase also won, meaning Arizona stays 1.5 games back. But they now have a real chance to take the series in Los Angeles, which as mentioned in the game preview, would be more than I could have hoped.
Same two teams tomorrow night, and I wonder if there will be any carry-over? Alex Young starts for Arizona, with a 6:10 pm first pitch. Get your popcorn, folks...