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Diamondbacks 7, Rockies 8: Bullpens of Woe

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Zac Gallen pitched 7 full innings of quality ball, but a lack of clutch hitting early, a spectacular bullpen meltdown, and a comeback that fell just short makes this a sad day...

COLORADO ROCKIES vs ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS, MLB Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

I don’t think I’ve actually seen Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen pitch since his first start on July 26 in San Diego, when he only gave up one earned run but needed nearly 100 pitches to get through four innings. Happily, he seems to be getting closer to his usual self as this funny little season has developed. He had a good outing tonight. Not Merrill Kelly good, but damn good nevertheless.

Tonight he faced off against Colorado lefty Kyle Freeland, and despite traffic on the bases for both pitchers through the first few innings, the whole thing was kind of a pitching duel. The Diamondbacks loaded the bases on two-out infield hits by Starling Marte and Christian Walker, sandwiched around a 7-pitch walk that David Peralta drew. Sadly, Eduardo Escobar popped out to shallow left to end the frame.

Gallen, meanwhile, pitched around a two-out single by Rockies center fielder and all-around terrifying hitting Charlie Blackmon to sit down the Rockies, needing only 13 pitches to do so.

The 2nd and 3rd innings were similarly uneventful, with Freeland surrendering only a one-out Tim Locastro double that would have been a single for just about any other batter, and then retiring the side in the third. Gallen, meanwhile, retired the Rockies in order in the second, and pitched around a leadoff single to Rockies LF Raimel Tapia that wound up with the runner on third with nobody out thanks to a stolen base and a Carson Kelly throw that wound up in center field, escaping the inning without any actual damage.

Blood was finally spilt in the fourth, as Christian Walker did this terrible thing to the first pitch he saw from Freeland:

The stroke, the sound off the bat, it was a no-doubter from the get-go. That was all the Diamondbacks could muster, though. Still. 1-0 D-BACKS

Gallen, meanwhile, who was at 36 pitches after 3 innings, came out to start his half of the 4th, and promptly gave the lead back, with interest. Charlie Blackmon led off the inning and rifled a ball into left-center for a single, bringing his batting average for the season to an even .500. Four pitches later, Nolan Arenado, apparently in the process of shaking off his early slump, teed off on what the MLB Game Day called a 84.5mph knuckle curve that stayed in the middle of the plate, and sent it over the wall just to the left of straightaway center. It could have gotten a lot worse from there, as well...after inducing Rockies first baseman Daniel Murphy to ground out to Escobar at third, Rockies second baseman and TOOTBLAN specialist (see below) Ryan McMahon singled to left, then one out later advanced on a Tapia grounder that snuck through the right side of the infield to right.

Meanwhile, Gallen was throwing a lot of pickoffs to first, none of which even came close, to the point where I was already shouting at the screen about it. But, weirdly, it paid off finally, in a bit of clown show baserunning as Gallen, with a 2-2 count on Rockies catcher Tony Wolter, threw to first. Christian Walker didn’t even try a tag on Tapia, but tossed the ball back to the mound. For some bizarre reason, McMahon decided that this would be a brilliant moment to try to steal home plate. It went about as well as one might expect. Thankfully, we have video:

Anyway. 2-1 Colorado

After that, the pitcher’s duel continued, with Freeland pitching a scoreless 5th and 6th, despite some more clown show fielding that allowed Starling Marte and David Peralta to reach on back-to-back infield hits to begin the 6th, though the threat was quelled thanks to Walker grounding into a double play. Gallen, meanwhile, surrendered a two-out single to Trevor Story in the bottom of the fifth, but no damage was done, and he retired the Rockies in order in the bottom of the 6th.

Carson Kelly led off the top of the 7th, and decided to take a page out of Christian Walker’s book (the dinger book, not the GIDP book), tying the score on the first pitch with this high fly ball that managed to stay fair and managed to get over the left field wall:

Unlike Walker’s homer, this was more of a Coors Field Special, but hey, we’ll take it. No other damage done in the inning, but we’d knotted up the score. 2-2 TIE

Gallen, who was at 87 pitches at this point, came out for the 7th, and set the bottom of the Rockies’ lineup down in order, needing only 7 pitches to do so. I actually thought he might come out for the 8th, but that was not to be, for good or ill. His night ended with the stellar line of 7IP, 2R, 2ER, on 7 hits, 7 strikeouts, and no walks in 94 pitches.

And then the bullpens got involved. We got a couple of baserunners in the top of the 8th, on a KMart HBP and a Walker BB, but couldn’t do anything with that. In the bottom half, things got worse. Kevin Ginkel came on to relieve Gallen, gave up a leadoff triple to Rockies CF Garrett Hampson, followed by a single to Trevor Story and a double to Blackmon that wasn’t quite long enough to go out of the park to just to the right of straightaway center. Arenado was walked intentionally, and Ginkel was yanked for Alex Young, who then gave up a single to Daniel Murphy, struck out McMahon, induced pinch hitter Matt Kemp to pop out to second, before giving up a double to left center to Tapia. That was enough to earn Young the hook, and we got our first look at Jeremy Beasley, the guy who was called up to replace Bumgarner on the roster. Beasley gave up a single to Wolters, and a double to Hampson (yeah, they’d batted around by this point), before finally ending the pain with a strikeout looking to retire Trevor Story. But, oh, the damage that had been done. 8-2 Colorado

Honestly, I kinda stopped paying attention after that, figuring it was pretty much done. I still had the game on, but I was getting started on the recap. Occasionally I would glance over at the other screen to see when it was finally over. Oddly enough, though, it kept not being over. The Diamondbacks offense mounted a legitimate comeback play. Locastro began the comeback with a line-drive double to left. Ahmed scored him with a ground ball to center, turning the lineup over. Andy Young then singled to left, and whoever the mop-up guy the Rockies had brought in got yanked for putative Rockies closer Jairo Diaz. The hit parade continued, though, with a Ketel Marte double to left that plated Ahmed and Young, followed by a Starling Marte single to center that scored Ketel. Peralta lined out to left for the second out of the inning. Walker then drew a four-pitch walk, which Eduardo Escobar followed with a line-drive single to right. The other Marte scored. This chased Diaz from the game, and Bud Black brought in 2020 feel-good story Daniel Bard to try to end the madness. I love Bard’s story, but was sad when, after some iffy ball-and-strike umpiring, he caught Steven Vogt looking on a 2-2 count, cutting short the rally. 8-7 Colorado

Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs

Get Out of Jail Free!: Zac Gallen: +24.4% WPA (see his pitching line, above)

Club Fed: Carson Kelly: +11% WPA (mainly for the tying HR in the 7th, I would guess)

That Turkish Prison from “Midnight Express”: Kevin Ginkel: -32.5% WPA (3H, 1 3ER, 1 IBB, no outs recorded)

We had us 177 comments in tonight’s Gameday Thread, provided by 25 commenters, of whom Michael McDermott and Makakilo led the way with 26 and 19 respectively. Always good to see the Snake Pit staff out in force! All present and accounted for were: 68 88 96 98, AZDovs11, AzRattler, ChuckJohnson56, DeadManG, DesertWeagle, GuruB, Imstillhungry95, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Justin27, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Preston Salisbury, Schilling2001, Snake_Bitten, Theolser4, Ubersnake, bklapes32, kilnborn, onedotfive, since_98

No comments went Sedona Red tonight, and frankly there were only 13 that got any recs at all. So, once more exercising editorial license, I have to give the CoTG to Snake Bitten, for the sentiment expressed and also the GIF that accompanied it:

Right there with ya, Will Ferrell And Snake Bitten. Our bullpen has this effect on me as well. Anyway.

Join us tomorrow for the rubber match in the three-game series, as we send Luke Weaver to the mound to face Rockies righty Antonio Senzatella. This is a getaway day game, so first pitch comes early, at 1:10pm Arizona time.

As always, thanks for reading. Hope you all are well. Go D-Backs!