Before the game even started, the Diamondbacks were greeted with some good news. Both Merrill Kelly and Tim Locastro are expected to make quick recoveries and are not expected to need any sort of IL time. Kelly reported a tightness in his lat as he followed through on a pitch. Playing in the cold rain is being blamed. Kelly was cleared to pitch again for today’s game. Speaking of blaming the rain, Locastro’s injury appears to be less severe than it appeared. Coming out of the game, getting some heat, and some deep-tissue work by the team’s trainers resulted in Locastro taking the field for today’s game.
There was no rain for today’s game, though looking at the length of game and the number of pitchers used by the Nationals, one might think there had been some sort of rain delay.
The Washington Nationals elected to go with an opener for this game, turning to Roeins Elias to get through the first few outs. Robbie Ray had the start for the Snakes.
The Nationals struck first in this game. Trea Turner doubled to lead things off for Washington. He was brought home when Howie Kendrick belted a home run 364 feet to left. It was Kendrick’s first long ball of the season. Ray then retired the next two batters.
The Diamondbacks did not take long to respond. Roenis took the mound to start the second inning and got two more quick outs before turning the ball over to the actual “starter” for the game Anibal Sanchez. Carson Kelly was the first batter Sanchez faced. Sanchez lost that battle. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sanchez tried to come in on Kelly and did not get in far enough. The Diamondbacks’ catcher put a solid swing on the pitch and hit a 408-foot home run of his own to left center. Nick Ahmed then struck out on three pitches while the bat never once left his shoulder.
Ray pitched around a one-out single in the second, then headed into the dugout to grab a bat to lead off the third. After a seven-pitch battle, Ray drew a walk. He was followed by Locastro, who drew a full count HBP, putting Ray in scoring position for David Peralta. With the count 0-1, Peralta crushed a double off the wall in right. Ray scored, but Locastro was forced to hold up at third as Michael Taylor cleanly fielded the ball off the wall and got it back in before Locastro even reached third.
After the play, Virtual Dave Martinez visited the mound with trainers. Sanchez walked off the mound and Fernando Abad was called in as an injury replacement.
Abad probably should have taken a few extra warm-up tosses. His first pitch hit Ketle Marte, loading the bases for Eduardo Escobar. His second pitch was a wild pitch, scoring Locastro with ease and allowing the other runners to each move up 90 feet. Christian Walker then grounded out to Kendrick at first, allowing Peralta to score and for Marte to take third. Abad finally stopped the bleeding by striking out Kole Calhoun to end the side.
For his part, Ray continued to do his job and to do it well. He only walked onemore and allowed only one more hit through the end of the sixth. Ray then took the mound again in the seventh. That’s when Yan Gomes started the frame off with a solo shot to left. Ray didn’t let that bother him though and he proceeded to retire the next three batters he faced, two by strikeout.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks continued to put a hurt on the suddenly taxed Washington bullpen. The Diamondbacks put up a two-spot in the fifth and then also tacked on single tallies in each of the sixth and seventh innings.
The Nationals did not go quietly and tried to mount a comeback in the late innings. Merrill Kelly was, for some reason, given the ball to pitch the eighth instead of turning to a rested reliever like Alex Young. That plan did not go well and Kelly did seem a bit stiff. He allowed two runs in the eighth and then started off the ninth by allowing a single. Archie Bradley was then brought in to quiet things. Bradley struck out Taylor to get the first out, but then allowed a double, a single, and a walk, bringing home his inherited runner and loading the bases. Virtual Lovullo had seen enough and he turned the ball over to Kevin Ginkel. Ginkel too, had some difficulties. After getting Juan Soto to fly out to shallow left, he walked Asdrubal Cabrera to force home another run. That run was charged to Bradley - the first of the season charged to him. That exploded his ERA to 0.69 on the season. Starlin Castro then struck out swinging to end the game and notch the save.
Final Score: AZ 8 - WAS 7
Howie Kendrick was named player of the game in what was likely a nod to him finally getting his bat going. Once again, Ray turned in a performance that was worthy of the nod, but was overlooked.
The same two teams are back at it again tomorrow. Madison Bumgarner will face off against Joe Ross.
At 21-16, the Diamondbacks continue to hold on to their spot as the third place team in the NL West.