Record: 62-63. Pace: 80-82. Change on 2018: -7.
It looked like Arizona’s long-running streak of being within two games of .500, already dating back more than two months, was under serious threat. They had lost the first three games against San Francisco to drop to two below even, and were facing the Giants’ staff ace, with a starter for Arizona who had been getting blasted of late. But as on the previous three occasions during the streak when they were two below, they prevailed. This was the one game in the series the D-backs won, adding Madison Bumgarner’s name to the list of scalps taken this year. Merrill Kelly had his best start in a month, helped by Andrew Chafin, while Wilmer Flores and David Peralta homered, as the D-backs avoided a sweep.
After getting the first two outs on four pitches in the bottom of the first, it looked like Madison Bumgarner was going to be the man who had been unbeaten in his last ten starts. But it took 22 more pitches to five batters, three of them scoring, before he could get the third out. Eduardo Escobar doubled to the wall, and advanced to this as the Giants kicked it around. Christian Walker walked on four straight balls, and Adam Jones, making his first start of the year in center, hit a sinking liner which turned the SF center-fielder into a Pillar of salt, scurrying past his diving grab for a two-RBI triple. Josh Rojas then blooped one just over the infield, to make it an unexpected 3-0 Diamondbacks lead after one.
Meanwhile, Merrill Kelly got through the first two innings on a total of 23 pitches, though there was no shortage of hard contact early on. A one-out double was erased after the runner took off in an ill-advised fashion on a liner to David Peralta, and Escobar made an impressive catch at the aptly-named hot corner, on a 104 mph shot for the second out in the second inning (above). Kelly then settled down, and retired nine in a row, beginning with the final out in the second. However, so did Madbum. Rojas did walk ans steal his first MLB base in the eighth, but Nick Ahmed was rung up on a pitch out of the zone, Carson Kelly popped out and the pitcher grounded out.
Kelly’s streak ended with a Brandon Crawford bunt into the shift, with two outs in the fifth, and another single brought the tying run to the plate for San Francisco. Fortunately, it was in the form of Bumgarner - though as pitchers go, he’s a good hitter. He didn’t look very good against the Kelly Kurve, however, and struck out on it for the second time this afternoon, preserving the 3-0 lead. Bumgarner’s streak also ended, as Flores continued his hot streak, launching a pitch into the left-field bleachers, extending Arizona’s advantage to four. A couple of weeks back, I’d almost forgotten Wilmer was on the roster. Now he’s batting .312 with a .828 OPS.
Kelly’s afternoon came to an end in the sixth. He lost the shutout quickly, a lead-off triple being followed by an RBI single. A pair of walks led to his departure with the bases loaded, after exactly 100 pitches. He had allowed one run on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts, but was responsible for the three men on the pond. Enter Chafin to face Brandon Crawford, who coaxed a high chopper to the right of the infield. Jake Lamb, who had just come in to replace Christian Walker in a double-switch, couldn’t get to it, but fortunately, Flores was there, and flipped to Chafin, hustling across to cover and he completed what could easily have been a disastrous play.
chugga— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 18, 2019
CHOO CHOO pic.twitter.com/6rfXww4RwN
The failure of the Giants to take advantage was likely the turning point. Chafin and Archie Bradley combined for the final ten outs, allowing one hit and a pair of walks, while striking out four. And the Arizona offense tacked on two insurance runs. David Peralta homered in the seventh (above), to make it 5-1 - just his second home-run off a left-handed pitcher this year. Then Lamb drew a walk with the bases loaded in the eighth, giving us the final score. Flores had two hits, and Rojas a hit and two walks plus the stolen base - all of them by the left-handed batter, against left-handed pitching. We didn’t see Joel Payamps or Bo Takahashi, so for now, both remain “ghost major-leaguers”, on the roster but yet to appear.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Helium: Andrew Jones, +16.5%
Silicon: Chafin, +14.3%; M. Kelly, +13.7%
Hydrogen: Carson Kelly, -4.0%
But... But... I was assured in last night’s recap that this “dumpster fire” was in the throes of a “long losing skid”? In the absence of any Sedona Red comments in the GDT itself, I am therefore awarding comment of the game to Gilbertsportsfan for correctly calling this victory in last night’s otherwise doomy and gloomy recap.
Spot-on, sir. Meanwhile, present in the GDT were: AzDbackfanInDc, DORRITO, Gilbertsportsfan, Gore4HOF, GuruB, Justin27, Makakilo, MesaDBacksFan, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, Rockkstarr12, Snake_Bitten, asteroid, kilnborn and onedotfive. Oh, and before I forget, AzDbackfanInDc was looking in the preview for a list of all the D-backs born outside the United States. Here you go.
With the Cubs still playing the Pirates, the D-backs are currently 4 back of the baby bears for the second wild-card. The Brewers, Phillies and Mets are all 1.5 games back of the Cubs, with the Giants three behind. The Rockies are the next visitors to Chase, with a three-game series opening tomorrow night. First pitch is at 6:40 pm, with the starter for the Diamondbacks being new guy Zac Gallen. He’ll be seeking to build on a very successful home debut, blanking the Phillies over five innings of one-run ball, though he could only get through four innings against these same Rockies at Coors Field.