Honestly, I’m not even sure where to start with this one. While watching the game, I was basically formulating the recap in my head for the certain sort of game it seemed to be, only for the whole thing to get upended in the seventh inning and morph into something else entirely. It was kinda nuts, in fact. But I suppose we should just start at the beginning.
There was a lot of pregame talk about Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray’s last outing on September 11 against the Mets, in which he lasted 2⁄3 of an inning and gave up 5 earned runs due to a blister on one of the fingers on his pitching hand. Steve and Bob referenced it a lot early in the broadcast, with Brenly noting repeatedly that blisters take longer than five days to heal. There was some concern in the Game Day Thread as well on this issue.
Ray, though, was having none of it. He came out throwing the full complement of pitches and locating them effectively, retiring the Marlins in order on only twelve pitches. All of the outs were on fly balls to the outfield, which I found mildly worrisome, but he did the business and looked better doing it than he’s looked the last few times I’ve seen one of his starts.
The bottom of the first, on the other hand, was just plain bizarre. It was one of the weirdest half innings I think I’ve ever witnessed. Wilmer Flores led off the Diamondbacks half of the game by getting hit on the shoulder by the first pitch he saw from Marlins starter Pablo Lopez. Josh Rojas then saw three more pitches before getting plunked himself, on the instep of the back foot. Ketel Marte saw five pitches and managed not to get hit, instead flying out to center. Eduardo Escobar drilled a sharp single to shallow left that moved everyone up a base, but wasn’t nearly deep enough for Flores to score from first. Up came Jake Lamb, who got drilled in the leg by the second pitch he saw, giving him an RBI as Flores advanced home from third.
Now, when Flores was hit by the first pitch of the ball game, Steve and Bob blathered a bit about residual bad blood from the series we played in Miami earlier in the summer, but no, that pretty clearly wasn’t the issue. Either the Diamondbacks had all been infused with the blood of Tim Locastro, and had transformed their bodies into baseball magnets, or Lopez was just really wild. Anyway.
Adam Jones then promptly spoiled what was potentially a big inning by grounding into a 4-6-3 double play, which is kinda what Adam Jones does these days. I’m pretty much over Adam Jones, I gotta say. 1-0 D-BACKS
Ray began the second by striking out the first two batters he faced, before suddenly losing the strike zone and walking former Diamondback Martin Prado on six pitches and prompting some alarm from the Game Day Thread:
Thankfully, Ray didn’t let the walk faze him, and promptly got another K, striking out the side.
From there, both pitchers went about their business until the bottom of the third, when Josh Rojas slapped a one-out single to left, and Ketel Marte hit a long line drive off the wall in straightaway center for an RBI double:
Sadly, that was all we were able to manage, but no worries. There are many more video highlights to come. 2-0 D-BACKS
Robbie Ray, meanwhile, continued to dominate, though his control was a bit shaky at times (he pitched around another walk in the third, and one in the fifth), but he entered the sixth inning having only thrown 75 pitches, and a no-hitter in the works. Sadly, this would end with two outs in the inning as Starlin Castro lined a ball right back up the box and into shallow center for a single. Ray bounced back, though, striking out Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro to end the top of the sixth.
The Diamondbacks’ bats were still not doing a whole lot (3 hits through five), but Eduardo Escobar decided to give Ray another insurance run to lead off the sixth, with this absolute bomb to right field:
Again, that was all we would get, but even one-run innings start to add up for awhile. 3-0 D-BACKS
Then the seventh inning happened, and the game became an entirely different animal. Ray came out to start the seventh, but upon giving up a five-pitch walk to Marlins right fielder Harold Ramirez, was replaced by Yoan Lopez. Neil Walker pinch hit for Prado, and launched the fourth pitch he saw over the wall in left, ruining Ray’s shutout line and bringing the Marlins within one. It only got worse from there, as Lewis Branson singled to left center, and Lopez finally lost the strike zone completely and walked catcher Austin Dean on four pitches. He was yanked for Andrew Chafin, having thrown 13 pitches, only 6 of which were strikes, and not recording an out. Chafin didn’t do any better, as Marlins pinch-hitter Magneuris Sierra bunted for a single on Chafin’s first pitch and advanced to second when Chafin flubbed the throw to first. Brinson scored on the play. So that was the end of Chafin’s outing...one pitch, one hit, one error, and one unearned run (MLB scoring is weird and stupid sometimes). Enter Yoshihisa Hirano, who gave up a single to Marlins leadoff batter Jon Berti that scored both Dean and Sierra. Finally, on what I believe was the twenty-fifth pitch of the frame, Hirano finally managed to record the first out, on a fly ball to right fielder Abraham Almonte, who had come in in a double switch at some point during all those pithing changes. Thankfully, Starlin Castro followed that with a sharp grounder up the middle that I thought was going to sneak through, but Hirano managed to snag as it went by to start a 1-4-3 inning-ending double play that brought an end to the ordeal. 5-3 Miami
Needless to say, there was much tearing of hair and rending of garments in the comments at this juncture. I will freely confess to being right in the thick of that, having been stricken into a temporarily non-verbal state:
This eventually led Jack Sommers, in his infinite and level-headed patience, to once again point out that, by the numbers, our relief corps is actually a lot better than a lot of other teams’ bullpens.
Unlike many times when Jack has been called upon to remind us of this, he got some instant confirmation, thanks to the Marlins bullpen, which gave us kind of a weird redux of our own bullpen’s performance in the top of the inning.
Carson Kelly led off the inning against Marlins reliever and terrifying scarecrow man Tayron Guerrero with one of those weird pop flies into the outfield that has three defenders closing on it but just plops down onto the grass in between them. He advanced to second on a wild pitch early in the next at-bat, which went to Abraham Almonte batting in the nine hole (my scorecard was already in disarray, apparently, and it only got worse as the game progressed...eventually, I kinda gave up, to be honest). Almonte then hit a shot down the first base line that I felt certain would be a double, but Almonte only wound up getting one bag. Kelly scored from second, though, thanks to the wild pitch. This turned over the lineup and Wilmer Flores had a hell of an AB to draw a seven-pitch walk. That chased Guerrero, who like Lopez and Chafin failed to record an out. Tyler Kinley was the new pitcher, and it looked like we weren’t gonna be as fortunate as the Marlins had been, as he got Rojas to strike out and retired Marte on a fly to deep left that allowed Jarrod Dyson (who had come on to pinch run for Flores) to advance to third. Escobar, however, managed to draw a walk, loading the bases for...Jake Lamb. The comments hadn’t been kind of Jake earlier in the game, and honestly I don’t think any of us expected him to do this:
It was scored (rightly) a double, but thanks to some pretty hardcore clown-show fielding by Miami, he wound up advancing to third. Seriously, someone should take that clip and, once the ball was on its way back into the infield, overlay the Benny Hill music. It would fit perfectly. Pinch hitter Dominic Leyba lined out hard to second to end the fun, but we’d regained the lead. Jack is wise. All hail Jack. 7-5 D-BACKS
Stefan Crichton came out to pitch the top of the eighth, and wound up not being great either, surrendering three singles, the last of which really should have brought Miami back to within one. But Jarrod Dyson (who had apparently remained in the game after pinch-running in the previous inning, and was now patrolling center?!) was like, “Oh, no, I don’t think so.”
Confirmed: Jarrod Dyson has a cannon pic.twitter.com/RWyhbyhX8v— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) September 17, 2019
We looked to add on in the bottom of the frame, but despite Ildemaro Vargas (who was apparently in the game as well now?!?) and Kelly reaching to start the inning, we couldn’t advance them, much less get them home. No matter, though, as Kevin Ginkel (?!) came in and pitched a blissfully drama-free 1-2-3 ninth for the save. Whew.
WIN PROBABILITY ADDED (Courtesy of FanGraphs)
Sea Turtles: Robbie Ray (+29.6% WPA - pitching), Jake Lamb (+53.0% WPA!!!)
Otters: Eduardo Escobar (+14.9 WPA), Wilmer Flores (+14.2 WPA), Abraham Almonte (+10.9 WPA)
Horses: Adam Jones (-14.4 WPA)
Narwhals: Yoan Lopez (-33.5% WPA), Andrew Chafin (-25.0% WPA)
(for context, see yesterday’s Round Table and comments)
I gotta say, those are some crazy numbers. I’ve never seen one as high as Lamb’s 53.0. And Chafin’s -25% is...impressive...given it was a one-pitch outing for him. Yikes.
Anyway, we had a surprisingly pleasing and lively Game Day Thread, with 18 commenters providing 284 comments. Present and accounted for were: Andrew Chrun, Dano_in_Tucson, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Johnneu, Justin27, Makakilo, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Rockkstarr12, Schilling2001, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, The-Icon, Wesley Baier, asteroid, onedotfive
I am pleased to award the CotG to Rockkstarr12 for her first comment of the night, which went Sedona Red, because, well, how could it not?
Anyhow. Welcome back to winning baseball, and join us tomorrow to see if we can make it continue. Marlins lefty Caleb Smith faces off against Alex Young. First pitch is 6:40pm, just like tonight. Hope to see you there. And as always, thanks for reading, and GO D-BACKS!