Record: 13-17. 162-game equivalent: 35-46. Change on 2019: -5.
In the preview, I wrote, “It wouldn’t surprise me if tonight’s game is decided by an error, wild pitch, balk, or something similar.” Guess I forgot to include “blown calls” on that list. For three controversial umpiring decisions, all of which went in favor of the Rockies, certainly were potential factors in tonight’s one-run loss, Arizona’s sixth in a row.
Things did not exactly start well for the D-backs tonight at Chase Field. Scheduled starter Merrill Kelly was an extremely late withdrawal, and was forced onto the Injured List with what's being called a "nerve impingement" in his right shoulder. Rookie pitcher Riley Smith was recalled from Salt River Fields to take the roster spot (Michael interviewed him in March), and Taylor Clarke was given the unenviable task of taking this evening's start at the last minute. The visitors also had a late line-up change, having to replace Charlie Blackmon. Oh, and even the commentary booth was not immune to the day's disaster. Bob Brenly was also a late scratch, going down with a migraine. Mark Grace stepped in to replace him.
Clarke's start saw the Diamondbacks fall behind quickly. He hung a breaking ball to Trevor Story, and Trevor Story did what Trevor Story does at Chase Field. That would be a very long shot into the bleachers, landing halfway up in left field. It was his 11th home-run here, since making his debut at the start of 2016 - the most by any visiting player in Arizona. The home offense went quietly in the first, then succumbed to self-inflicted wound in the second. Christian Walker walked with one out, and aggressively went first to third on an Eduardo Escobar single. However, Escobar tried to take second on the play, and was gunned down there by Nolan Arenado. Walker was stranded on third, keeping it 1-0 to Colorado at the end of the second.
The first questionable call defined the top of the third. It opened with back-to-back singles, on the second of which, Tony Wolters went first to third too. The throw from Starling Marte to Escobar easily beat Wolters, but the runner's dive seemed FAR more intent on slamming into Eduardo's glove than reaching the base. If so, it succeeded: the ball rolled free, the runner was called safe (despite Torey's protests), and Escobar was shaken up, but stayed in the game. One out later, a sacrifice fly scored Wolters, making it 2-0 to Colorado. Bizarrely, the initial scoring decision was an error on Marte, though it was changed subsequently to Escobar.
Kole Calhoun brought it back to a one-run game with two outs in the bottom of the third (above). A fastball was deposited 428 feet into the right-field seats behind the pool, for his eighth homer of the season. We ended the third 2-1 down. Clarke was already at 53 pitches, well past his previous season high of 46, but came out for the fourth. It was his most impressive inning, retiring the Rockies in order with a pair of strikeouts. At 70 pitches, that was his night over. Hard to complain, it was a sterling effort on short notice. Clarke was charged with two runs, one unearned, on four hits, with two walks and four Ks.
Arizona tied things up on another home-run in the bottom of the fourth. Christian Walker somehow managed to turn on a fastball up and in (below), and blasted it into the teddy bears in left-field. Escobar then got plunked on the foot. Another bad umpiring call followed, as the Rockies' pitcher appeared to balk. Stephen Vogt asked for time out, but it wasn't granted. The pitcher still started then stopped, and a balk was immediately called by home-plate umpire Edwin Moscoso. An incensed Bud Black went out to argue and got the call reversed. Apparently, there is some rule that the hitter can't make a pitcher balk. Someone should probably let Moscoso know about that.
One lucky teddy bear is taking home a souvenir! pic.twitter.com/0MlMzEOuuh— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 25, 2020
Taylor Widener, took over on the mound, and gave Colorado the lead back. A leadoff double was followed by a ball between Walker and K-Marte, each thought the other was getting. It became an RBI single, and a 3-2 lead for the Rockies. And you already thought this umpiring crew were incompetent idiots? The bottom of the fifth ended with Calhoun hit in the head with a thrown ball as he ran the bases. Yes. Kole was beaned, and was called out, by first-base umpire Rob Drake. The claim was he somehow intentionally headed the ball, a feat befitting ninja skills and apparently near-unprecedented in MLB history. Looked rather more like he was trying to duck. Torey Lovullo got tossed, understandably, for arguing that.
Nothing of interest happened in the sixth inning.
Nothing happened in the top of the seventh either. But it took Kevin Ginkel 29 pitches to make that nothing happen, eventually stranding runners on the corners, after K-Marte muffed the transfer on a possible inning-ending double-play ball. Arizona almost took the lead in the bottom half. Two-out hits from some things called Stephen Vogt and Daulton Varsho brought Calhoun up, and he almost had his second homer of the night. But it died at the base of the left-field wall, and we were on to the eighth, still trailing 3-2. Stefan Crichton, our only available reliever with an ERA below four, continued his impressive start, putting up a zero there.
S-Marte singled with one out in the bottom half, but David Peralta got under his pitch and Walker struck out on three straight pitches, and didn't look good doing so. Crichton worked his second scoreless inning, which brought us to the doors of the Last Chance Saloon. Escobar, Ahmed and Vogt were retired in order, and the D-backs’ losing streak extended to six games. They have scored two runs or fewer in each of the six games, their longest such streak since September 5-11, 2014.
I’m officially naming Bill Miller and his clown crew the villains on this one. Are we stuck with these incompetent idiots for the rest of this homestand? Jesus.
A busy, but very whiny Gameday Thread tonight. Present were: 68 88 96 98, Augdogs, AzDbackfanInDc, AzRattler, ChuckJohnson56, DesertWeagle, Diamondhacks, EdTheRed99, GuruB, Hazzard21, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Preston Salisbury, Rockkstarr12, Schilling2001, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, TheOlser4, Ubersnake, gzimmerm, kilnborn, onedotfive, since_98 and yutzamin. Here’s your comment of the night.
So, not ALL bad news then. :) After the game we got some more information about Kelly’s late departure. According to Kelly it started bothering him two weeks ago, but was manageable. However, the last couple days it got worse, and then he couldn’t even make it out to throw in the bullpen tonight. It doesn’t seem promising, or does the news he is apparently going to see Dr. Pearl, who is an expert in thoracic outlet surgery. Here’s more from the manager, Taylor Clarke:
And finally, here’s Kole Calhoun, discussing the play - he confirms more or less what I thought at the time. “I’m running to second and watching what’s going on behind me. He [Wolters] throws the ball, and it’s pretty directly at my head, and so I just duck my head - and it hits me on the head.” He did admit that he didn’t try to get out of the way - but that’s absolutely not his responsibility.
They always say, watching baseball, you’ve got the chance to see something you’ve never seen before. I think tonight’s game proved that in spades! This has certainly been one of my longer recaps, but I did want to wait until Jack got me the post-game audio, for obvious reasons. Same two teams tomorrow, I guess...