It seems like when things are going well for this team, they are going very well. But, when things start to fall apart, the team just cannot get out of its own way and things snowball in a hurry. After running off an unexpected nine-game winnings streak, the Diamondbacks have now managed to lose the next three in a row. Sometimes this sim seems to do things that just intuitively feel wrong. Then, there are things, such as the Diamondbacks and the pull of Mt. .500 that seem spooky real.
Given his struggles so far this season, it is fair to expect that Robbie Ray was the culprit in this loss to the Chicago Cubs. That, however, was not the case. In fact, a strong case could be made for Ray as player of the game in a losing cause.
The game was quiet through the first two and a half innings. Then, with two outs in the bottom of the third, Ray came to the plate. In a bid to help himself, Ray slapped a single into left. That brought up Tim Locastro. Locastro split the gap in right center. giving MLB’s fastest player an easy double. Ray ran on contact and dug hard, managing to score first-to-home on the play. Peralta then followed up with a single of his own to into right center. Locastro, trying to show off that speed, raced for home, but was thrown out by none other than Steven Souza, Jr. in a very close play at the plate, ending the inning.
The next few innings were rather quick for both teams. After six complete innings of play, the scoreboard still showed the Diamondbacks up by that one, lone run. With 103 pitches on the day, Ray was lifted after completing six full innings. Unlike his more recent outings, he had far greater control of his nasty pitches, racking up 10 strikeouts and limiting the walks to merely three. He also scattered a measly four hits through the six innings, managing to keep the Cubs scoreless through the first two-thirds of the game. Andrew Chafin came on in relief to pitch the seventh. Chafin recorded swinging strikeouts of Daniel Descalso, Jason Heyward, and Souza. The game was flying along by this point.
Then, the eighth inning happened. Virtual Lovullo turned to his setup man, Kevin Ginkel. He started things off by striking out Albert Almora, Jr. That was followed by a four-pitch walk to Anthony Rizzo, a double to Javier Baez, and an intentional walk to Kyle Schwarber, which loaded the bases. The ball was then handed off to Hector Rondon. A single, a double, and another single followed, before Rondon finally induced an inning-ending double play out of Kris Bryant to stop the bleeding with the Cubs up by three.
In the bottom of the inning, pinch-hitter, Stephen Vogt, drew a four-pitch walk. He was brought home two batters later when Peralta hit a towering home run into the right field bleachers. The Diamondbacks were unable to put much else together, but they went into the ninth down only one.
That deficit did not last. A single, a triple, three bases on balls (one intentional) and a balk all came together to give the Cubs another three runs in the top of the ninth. For their part, the Diamondbacks did not go quietly. A double and a walk was enough that Virtual David Ross made the call to the bullpen and brought in Craig Kimbrel to close out the game. He was greeted by Josh Rojas lining a double into right, scoring one and putting runners at second and third. Alas, Kimbrel then did his thing and stranded those runners there, ending the game at three hours and forty-three minutes, the final hour and a half coming in the eighth and ninth innings alone.
Final Score: CHC 7 - AZ 4
The player of the gmae honors went to Chicago’s Javier Baez for his two doubles and three runs scored. As mentioned above though, this is likely due to the Cubs eventually coming out winners, making Ray’s significant contribution a distant memory. Though shutting out the Cubs through six while striking out ten and scoring a go-ahead run is hardly something to make light of.
The Diamondbacks now rest one game over .500 again, 16-15 on the season; third in the NL West behind the Dodgers and Giants.