Record: 52-110. Pace: 52-110. Change on 2004: +1.
TL;DR: The Diamondback players that will be part of the next competitive team had a decent day, the players that won’t be did not. The team played a (mostly) complete game, but the D-Backs threw away the #1 overall draft pick in 2022 like it was leftover lunch meat.
While September and October for the rest of the country means way-too-early Halloween decorations and fall peeping, for baseball fans it means the time-honored tradition of scoreboard watching. Unfortunately, for the 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks, the only score worth watching was the contest between Baltimore and Toronto: a loss for Baltimore and a win for the D-Backs would give the Orioles the first overall pick in the 2022 Draft (assuming CBA rules hold). Even though the talent difference between the first and second draft picks may not be dramatic, it still can make a difference to the respective teams.
This game started innocently enough with Raimel Tapia weakly grounding out to Christian Walker - although I question why Walker is even playing when Pavin Smith is available. Garret Hampson quickly fouled out to Daulton Varsho - whose glove needs no questioning. Brendan Rogers followed with a single up the middle to keep the inning alive, but Ryan McMahon skied a ball to Henry Ramos in left field to help Humberto Mejia put a zero up in the first.
In the D-Backs half of the inning, Josh Rojas led off with a seeing-eye single, but Josh VanMeter decided the first pitch was all he needed to see before lazily flying out to center. Daulton Varsho took some more time before following suit with a hard shot to center field. Rojas then decided to test Dom Nunez’s arm behind the plate and promptly lost the battle to end the inning and pause Rojas’ hunt for his 10th stolen base of the year.
As usual, lead off walks almost always come back to bite you and today was no exception as Sam Hilliard started off the Rockies half of the second with just such a walk. Colton Wellker then shot a single over VanMeter to quickly put two runners on with no outs. Yonathan Daza put down a beautiful bunt looking for a base hit, but Varsho showed off some serious athleticism with an excellent pounce and accurate throw to first base to cut him down. Even still, the play moved both runners up a base and Nunez continued a nice day by lacing a two-run double down the right field line to make it COL 2-ARI 0. Ashton Goudeau limply struck out on three pitches, which continues to show me exactly why pitchers shouldn’t hit. Tapia then singled to Henry Ramos who bobbled the ball badly - an understatement - to allow Nunez to score and Tapia to advance to second to make the score COL 3-ARI 0. Hampson tattooed a line drive to Walker to mercifully finish an ugly inning.
Looking for some offense, Kole Calhoun began the D-Backs half of the second with a line drive to Welker. Walker then weakly grounded out to short off the end of his bat ahead of Ramos who was looking to atone for his double errors in the top half of the inning. He did manage to work a walk in front of Jake McCarthy whose walk-up song could not be better, but who was beaten in a foot race to first base that included a nice throw to Goudeau from Welker. Scoreboard check: Baltimore already losing 3-0 to Toronto.
Starting the Rockies third, Rodgers quickly struck out looking for his offseason plans. McMahon followed with a hard ground ball to second for the second out, and Hilliard worked a full count before Mejia blew a fastball by him to have a 1-2-3 inning. Those are always nice - especially after an ugly inning previously.
Geraldo Perdomo quickly fouled out to third to lead off the D-Backs half of the third. Mejia’s seventh career at bat turned into an 11-pitch epic battle, but he eventually lined out to right field to turn the lineup over. Scoreboard check: Baltimore dug themselves an even deeper hole down 5-0. Rojas kept the inning alive with a walk, but Vanmeter shot a pitch down to first which Welker managed to knock down for the final out.
In the Rockies fourth, Welker promptly struck out on a mistake slider six inches above the strike zone. Daza followed with a sky to right field on a sinker. Nunez then struck out on four pitches to give Mejia yet another 1-2-3 inning. Not bad - not bad, indeed.
In the home half of the fourth, Daniel Bard came in in relief for the Rockies and quickly got Varsho to ground out on two pitches. Calhoun followed with a quick ground out up the middle on two pitches as well. Walker struck out swinging at a nice pitch up and in to make quick work of the inning. Scoreboard check: Toronto scored a third field goal to make it 9-1 over the hapless Orioles.
After coming in for relief in the previous inning, Bard quickly shot a single into left field to leadoff the Rockies half of the fifth. Tapia flew out to left field while Hampson weakly popped out to Vanmeter in shallow center. For a brief, shining moment it looked like Mejia might get through five innings with relatively little damage...until Rodgers dropped a ball down the right field line that Calhoun gamely tried to catch, but turned into a run-scoring triple to push the score to COL 4-ARI 0. That ended Mejia’s afternoon and brought Joe Mantiply into the game for a quick, three-pitch strikeout of McMahon.
Ramos weakly flew out to center to lead off the home half of the fifth. McCarthy worked a walk and then moved up to second on one of the wilder pitches of the year behind Perdomo. McCarthy then manufactured a run all by himself with a fantastic steal of third and then scampered home on an inaccurate throwing error from Nunez to make it COL 4-ARI 1. Perdomo had a nice swing on a pitch that shot out to deep right field before parachuting into Hilliard’s glove. Pavin Smith entered as a pinch hitter and promptly grounded out to end the inning. Oh well.
Sean Poppen entered in relief for the D-Backs and popped a fastball by Hilliard to start his afternoon. Scoreboard check: the Blue Jays somehow scored an additional safety to make it 11-1 over Baltimore. Welker bounced a slow chopper to Rojas who played the hop perfectly and beat the runner by a step across the diamond. He might end up being all right, folks! Daza concluded the inning with a strikeout looking for answers from a very sharp Poppen.
Lucas Gilbreath came on for the Rockies in the home sixth and got Rojas to roll over for a leadoff groundout to keep him off the basepaths for the first time in the game. VanMeter managed to shoot a seeing eye single through the infield. Varsho then dropped a dying quail of a single to right field to set the D-Backs up for a rally of sorts. Unfortunately, Calhoun got caught looking into free agency for the second out of the inning, and Walker followed with an awkward check swing that the first base umpire decided was a "swing" to end any possibility of a rally.
In the seventh, Taylor Widener came in to relieve a sharp Poppen and quickly got Nunez to strike out on a rising fastball. CJ Cron entered as a pinch hitter for Gilbreath and smoothly shot a location mistake from Widener into the right centerfield gap for a double. Tapia grounded out to first to advance Cron to third, but Hampson grounded out to short to extinguish any chance of additional scoring for Colorado.
After plenty of stretching for the fans, Jordan Sheffield entered for the Rockies. And despite giving the ball a ride, he got Ramos to fly out to deep, deep center field to start the seventh. McCarthy followed by chasing after a tailing fastball off the outside corner. Perdomo however slapped a slider down the right field line for a stand-up double to keep the line moving. After a moment of indecision from Louvullo, David Peralta entered as a pinch hitter and managed to draw a walk to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Rojas. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to tie the game, but a solid single through the infield brought Perdomo in for another run and ended Sheffield’s afternoon to make it COL 4-ARI 2. Bud Black called Tyler Kinley in to end the rally against VanMeter, who fell into some bad luck with a hard shot right to Welker. Blech.
Noe Ramirez entered to begin the eighth inning for the D-Backs and quickly got Rodgers to strike out looking and McMahon striking out swinging at a nice curveball. Unfortunately, Hilliard struck a solid single into the outfield and then quickly stole second to set up a scoring opportunity for Welker. But thanks to a nifty play by VanMeter, the opportunity was quickly extinguished.
With their offensive chances dwindling, Varsho began the eighth with a quick groundout to first ahead of a one out walk from Calhoun. Walker followed with a solid single into center field. Ramos then put up a great fight before poking a single past Welker into right field. Hilliard attempted a throw home to get Calhoun, but the throw was offline, which allowed Walker to advance to third and made it a one-run game. McCarthy then tapped a weak grounder between the mound and first that Kinley managed to snag and that allowed Walker to score to tie the game at 4. Perdomo then smacked a ball into center field to end the inning.
J.P. Wendelken entered for the D-Backs looking to have a clean inning and allow the offense an opportunity to win in the bottom half. He started quickly with a hard grounder from Daza to first that Wendelken beat by a step. Nunez was then gifted a walk after a borderline call that Wendelken did not get. Charlie Blackmon rudely entered the game with a solid single to make it two on with just the one out for Tapia. Luckily, he tapped into a fielder’s choice to Walker. Unluckily, a poor throw from Walker to Perdomo brought him off second base and prevented the D-Backs from turning two. Maybe others should be given the chance there? *Cough* Pavin Smith *cough* *cough*. However, Hampson complied with our hometown wishes by rolling into a weak groundout to end the inning and preserve the tie to give the D-Bats a chance for a walkoff - hint, hint.
Going out with a bang. pic.twitter.com/NHGq8zAQyw— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) October 3, 2021
With the pitcher’s spot leading off the bottom of the ninth, Ketel Marte was brought in as a pinch hitter who quickly ended his at bat on the first pitch to center field. Rojas followed with a quick fly to left field to bring VanMeter up with the #1 draft pick for 2022 on the line. And in the most D-Backs way possible, VanMeter slugged just his sixth home run of the season into the right field bleachers to walk off the game and with it, the #1 pick for next year’s draft. Amazing.
D-Back of the Game (or D.O.G. if you will): I’ll go ahead and give it to Josh Rojas who had a nice fielding day and was on-base three times out of his five plate appearances.
In the grand scheme of things, I’m glad this D-Backs team managed to eclipse the 2004 version and there were plenty of bright spots on the field today to make me ever so slightly more hopeful for next year. Of course, that is the blessing and the curse of a baseball fan - there’s always next year, right?
Thank you so much for giving me the chance to do these recaps Jim, and here’s hoping for more articles in the long, hard Arizona winter before February 2022 comes around and our hopes for an improved D-Backs team can be put to the test. Stay safe everyone!
Bells and whistles, by Jim
A good turnout for the final gameday thread of the year. Present were: AzCutter, AzDbackfanInDc, Blind Squirrel has found his nut, DBacksEurope, Dano_in_Tucson, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Husk, Jack Sommers, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, Oldenschoole, Schilling2001, Smurf-1000, Snacks&Dbacks, Snake_Bitten, SolidMuse, TheOlser4, Xerostomia, chronicles_of_the_desert, edbigghead, gzimmerm, kilnborn, makattack71 and mcbenseigs. Thanks to the last-named for the guest recap, and the final comment of the thread goes to Snake_Bitten for a though I feel most of us can agree with:
And so, the season ends. But as ever, don't touch that dial. We'll have Gameday Threads every day of the post-season for you to follow, and no shortage of things to write up. Let's face it, the player reviews alone will be good for more than two months of content. Thanks again to everyone who wrote, commented or just read all this stuff. When's Opening Day?