When the Diamondbacks arrived at Truist Park in Atlanta, the training staff informed Virtual Torey Lovullo that his left-handed bullpen stalwart, Andrew Chafin was cleared to pitch again. However, they also informed him that they did not agree with Starling Marte that he and his sprained elbow, a result from landing awkwardly on a diving catch, were a day-to-day sort of problem. As a result, and despite Marte’s objections, the center fielder was placed on the 10-day IL. Kevin Cron was recalled from AAA-Reno. When asked about the move, Lovullo simply pointed out that the team still has Locastro, Rojas, and Ketel Marte, all capable of playing center field if needed. Starling Marte is expected to be back on the first available day. While Jon Jay and Trayce Thompson have both been looking like they are hungry for another go at the Bigs, the reality is, that there just is not enough corner outfield time to give them to warrant bringing one of them up. This is especially true, since they would then have to go through the waiver process to be sent back to AAA in only 10 days. Cron gives the team something that it did not have, a potent right-handed bat coming off the bench. It is still uncertain just what sort of playing time Cron can expect during this brief stint, but Lovullo has not counted out Cron potentially getting a start to give Walker a day of rest. There were also some pre-game questions about leaving Eduardo Escobar in the cleanup spot in the lineup. The Arizona third baseman has, by his own admission, been struggling to make good contact at the plate, resulting in a dismal past week. Lovullo insisted that Escobar has been putting in the work and it was only a matter of time before Escobar again started coming through during scoring opportunities.
Luke Weaver took the mound for the Diamondbacks, still looking for his first win of the season, despite a sub-3.00 ERA. The Braves countered with 22-year-old budding ace, Mike Soroka.
The first inning was much ado about nothing for both teams. despite a walk by Freddie Freeman. That brought up Escobar to start the second inning. Escobar took the first pitch he saw on the day and drove it 410 feet into the seats in right center. Two pitches later, Christian Walker seemed to get all of one, but it was tracked down for a long, loud out in the left field corner by Marcel Ozuna. On the next pitch, Kole Calhoun knocked a double off the wall in right center. Carson Kelly then popped up to Freeman at first. Nick Ahmed then smashed a ball up the middle that looked like it was headed into center for an RBI single. However, Addison Russell had him shaded that way and made a great diving stop behind second and then managed to get Ahmed out at first by the narrowest of margins.
After ending the Ariznoa half of the second with a great play, Russell came to the plate in the bottom of the second with one out and Ozuna on first thanks to a seeing-eye single. On a 2-2 fastball from Weaver, Russell hooked one down the left field line that just managed to stay fair, putting the Braves up by a run. Weaver then managed to get Christian Pache and Soroka out to get out of the inning.
Both teams went in order in the third. The inning went by so quickly that the television announcers barely had a chance to give the obligatory copyright notice.
Excitement rersumed for the Diamondbacks in the fourth inning. Ketel Marte led the inning off with a walk. He was followed by Escobar. Ahead in the count 1-2, Mike Soroka tried to get Escobar with the hammer, but the curve ball hung, up in the zone, and Escobar deposited it 406 feet into the left center seats for his second home run of the day, giving the Diamondbacks the lead back. Soroka then settled in and used all his tools to carve up the next three batters to get out of the inning.
Weaver had an easy fourth inning, putting Soroka right back to work on the mound. Nick Ahmed began the bottom of the fifth by hitting a double off the wall in right center. Then, for the second day in a row, Ahmed was out at third on a perfectly executed wheel play by the Braves, though Weaver’s bunt left a bit to be desired. Weaver then advance to second on a single into center by Tim Locastro. David Peralta then flew out to center, setting the table for Ketel Marte. Marte lined a double into the left field corner, scoring both Weaver and the speedy Locastro. That brought an end to Soroka’s day on the mound. The Braves brought in Darren O’Day, who got Escobar to strike out, swinging at a fastball up around the letters.
The Braves were unable to respond in the fifth, or the sixth for that matter. That brought the Diamondbacks to the plate in the seventh, holding a three-run lead on the Braves. Still in the game, O’Day began the inning by getting both Ahmed and Weaver with swinging strikeouts. Virtual Snitker then turned to Grant Dayton to face Locastro. Locastro responded with a weak single. Then, on the next pitch, Locastro swiped second base with ease. This was key, as Peralta then singled. With two outs, Locastro had been running on contact and managed to beat the throw home from the center fielder, Pache by a good five feet. Marte then struck out swinging.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Braves managed to get a bit of something going. It started when Tyler flowers grounded to first. Walker came in to make the play and gave Weaver a good throw to handle. Weaver though, took his eye off the ball to see where he was compared to the runner and the bag, allowing the ball to hit off his glove. Flowers was safe at first. Then, with one out, Pache doubled. However, Flowers runs like a backup catcher, and was thus held up at third. Weaver managed to pitch around the second and third, one out situation, not allowing a score.
Things got a bit uglier in the eighth. Jonathan Camargo singled to lead things off. On the next pitch, Freddie Freeman hit one towards short. Nick Ahmed committed his sixth error of the season, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. (Seriously, the man made only 13 errors in 632 chances in 2019, what is going on here?) Ronald Acuña Jr. brought Camargo home without a throw by hitting one to deep center. Ozuna then struck out. At that point, with Weaver at 1010 pitches, Virtual Lovullo decided his starter’s day was done. The call to the bullpen was made, bringing in Andrew Chafin. Flowers welcomed Chafin with a single through the 5.5 hole, scoring Freeman. Chafin then hit Russell on the back pocket, before finally retiring Pache on a lazy fly to right.
Mark Melancon was on the mound when the Diamondbacks came to the plate in the ninth. He started things off by walking Nick Ahmed. Ahmed then advanced on a 2-0 wild pitch to pinch-hitter, Stephen Vogt. Vogt played the smart game and left the bat on his shoulder, eventually walking on five pitches. That brought an end to Melancon’s evening. Chris Martin was brought on to pitch, first facing Tim Locastro. Locastro took a full swing which resulted in a very slow roller up the third base line. Comargo attempted to charge in and make a throw, but the ball fell from his hand on the motion through. He was credited with a tough error and the bases were loaded. David Peralta singled the next pitch into left field, advancing everyone one station. Ketel Marte then struck out. Escobar then worked himself a full-count, bases-loaded walk, forcing in yet another run. That brought an end to Martin’s night. Luke Jackson came in to face Christian Walker. Walker struck out on three pitches. Kole Calhoun then hit an easy fly to left.
Hector Rondon pitched the ninth for the Diamondbacks and managed to keep the Braves off the board.
Final Score: AZ 8 - ATL 4
The player of the game honors went to Eduardo Escoabr. Apparently, Virtual Lovullo was on to something by leaving Escobar in the cleanup spot in the order. With two home runs and a bases-loaded walk, Escobar was responsible for half of Arizona’s eight runs scored. Honorable mention goes to Luke Weaver for his 7 2⁄3 innings of strong work. The righty finally notched his first victory of the season and improved on his already impressive start to the season.
The same two team will play the third and final game of the series tomorrow. The Diamondbacks will send Mike Leake to the mound. The Braves will counter with lefty, Max Fried.