Eight innings in this recap was about to be titled “Merciless Mahle” because the Cincinnati Reds starter had shut down the Arizona Diamondbacks offense to that point. Tyler Mahle has been stingy on the mound so far this season, and his fourth start of the year was definitely his best. Coming in to today he had only allowed four earned runs over fourteen innings with an impressive 14.1 K/9.
Mahle kept it rolling against Arizona striking out five of the first seven batters he faced including the side in order to begin the game. The Diamondbacks would only muster two hits off of him through 6 2⁄3 innings, a David Peralta infield single in the second, and another infield single from Asdrubal Cabrera to begin the seventh. He has now faced the D’backs twice this season already, but they’ve only managed those two hits off of him in 10 2⁄3 innings.
Merrill Kelly was his opponent on the mound also making his fourth start of the season, but has had lesser results as he makes his way back from thoracic outlet surgery last year. I’ve talked about perspective multiple times this season, and I want to stress it again tonight when discussing Merrill Kelly. Although his 7.71 ERA after tonight is less than ideal, very few pitchers are ever even successful in coming back from the procedure he had.
Kelly did not give up a run in this game until the fourth inning and had only allowed two baserunners total before that point. Eugenio Saurez hit a line drive so hard off of Kelly to the left field wall that he was held to only a single. It was not because of his lack of hustle, but had more to do with how hard he hit it and that Peralta was placed perfectly to play it off of the wall. Joey Votto walked to follow, and a single from Nick Snezel loaded the bases. Jonathan India got the Reds on the board first with a sac fly to left field, but Kelly was able to limit the damage to just the one run.
Cincinnati added to their lead in the fifth inning. Tyler Stephenson singled off the glove of Nick Ahmed to lead off. Jack mentioned a few times in the GDT that Ahmed is playing through injury. It is obvious because he is struggling both at the plate and on the field where his glove is typically stellar. That missed play came back to bite Arizona because two at bats later Jesse Winker tripled to the right field corner to score Stephenson. Tyler Naquin drove him in on a sac fly the centerfield to make it a 3-0 game.
I know you are wondering. Yes, today's Reds lineup is the second in baseball history to have three Tylers in the starting lineup. The other was 4/14/2021 with the same 3 Tylers.— Joel Luckhaupt of the Pawnee Lerpiss family (@jluckhaupt) April 22, 2021
Just like the previous game of Tyler Mahle versus Arizona on April 9th that I attended at Chase Field, the Diamondbacks’ offense fought back against the Reds’ bullpen after his exit to take the game to extra innings. Fortunately, there would be a more enjoyable outcome tonight.
Arizona made their first real offensive threats in the sixth and seventh innings, but neither of those frames resulted in any runs. Nick Heath walked to begin the sixth, and Mahle hit Andy Young with a pitch to put runners on first and second with no outs. However, Pavin Smith grounded into a double play, and Kole Calhoun grounded out to quickly squash that opportunity. The Diamondbacks loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh inning but could not capitalize there either.
When the ninth inning came around, Amir Garrett came in for the save and we had no reason to believe the Diamondbacks would be able to claw back into this one. If you turned off your radio or television set at that point, congratulations, you played yourself. Amir had absolutely no control on the rubber. The D’backs just needed to stand at the plate with their bats on the shoulders as he dug himself further into trouble. Torey Lovullo allowed David Peralta to face the tough left hander and was rewarded with a leadoff walk. Eduardo Escobar very nearly reached on his own walk, but swung out of his shoes on a 3-1 count and flew out to right field. Garrett continued to struggle with his command and walked Carson Kelly who was pinch hitting for Stephen Vogt.
Cincinnati manager David Bell elected to keep his left hander in the game to face former Red Josh VanMeter. He worked a 2-2 count and then hammered a slider from Garrett to right filed tying the game at three. It was the first and only home run of the game. VanMeter would remark after the game that it was the best time he has had playing in a long time, and we all had just as much fun watching it.
Taylor Clarke took the call from the bullpen for the bottom of the ninth. He put the winning run on first for Cincinnati by walking pinch hitter Mark Payton with one out. With two outs in the inning, Tyler Stephenson hit a low liner to right field. A pair of inexplicable actions from both sides occurred on this play. Instead of letting the ball drop to keep it in front of himself, Kole Calhoun tried to make a diving catch with two outs. Worst fears came to fruition when he missed the catch and the ball skirted behind him. Had he let it drop there would be runners at first and second with two outs. The next mistake came from Mark Payton when he stopped at second base. There were two outs, so either Calhoun was going to make the catch to end the inning, or he wasn’t so Payton would have been able to reach third base easily. Once the ball ended up past Calhoun, Payton started his sprint again in attempt to score and end the game. Kole’s throw to the plate was towards the left handed batter’s box giving Payton a window to score, but he had a poor popup slide before reaching home. Carson Kelly missed his initial tag attempt, but was able to recover and tag his thigh to end the inning.
So just like that April 9th home opener at Chase Field, Arizona fought back after Mahle exited to push the game to extra innings. Would the outcome be different this time? Fortune had been on their side so far.
Pavin Smith began the top of the tenth inning on second base with Cionel Perez on the mound for the Reds. A Kole Calhoun flyout put Smith on third base with one out. The Reds wisely intentionally walked the slow footed Asdrubal Cabrera to setup a potential double play. They nearly had it when Peralta hit an infield grounder, but Alex Blandino was unable to field it cleanly. That allowed Pavin Smith to score to give Arizona their first lead of the game. Jose De Leon came on in relief, and the wheels really fell off for the Reds at that point. He gave up a single to Escobar to load the bases for arguably the most dangerous hitter in the D’backs lineup right now, Carson Kelly. He worked the count full after originally falling behind 0-2, and then was hit on the hand by an 85 MPH changeup to bring in another run. Carson appeared to be in a good amount of pain, but remained in the game now that Lovullo was out of bench players and had already removed Stephen Vogt earlier. Lovullo commented after the game that there is no concern that Kelly is injured from the hit by pitch.
De Leon followed the hit by pitch with a wild pitch to Josh Rojas which allowed Peralta to score making it 6-to-3. Rojas walked to load the bases yet again. Wyatt Mathisen singled to right field bringing in Escobar and Kelly to give Arizona a now comfortable 8-to-3 lead.
Taylor Clarke was sent back out for the Reds’ bottom of the tenth, and Yoan Lopez was stirring in the bullpen. Blandino doubled home Stephenson. Clarke recovered with a strikeout of Winker. He should have also earned a strikeout against Naquin, but strike three was called ball three which kept his at bat alive. He promptly singled to right field making the score 8-to-5. Josh Rojas, now filling in for Nick Ahmed at shortstop, put an end to the Reds’ momentum with a nice diving stop and strong throw across the diamond to get Eugenio Suarez for the second out of the inning. Joey Votto flew out to left field to bring a happy ending to this wild game.
Mark Grace said it best in the postgame show, the Diamondbacks really had no business in winning this game through the first eight innings. But there is a reason they play to 27 outs, and sometimes beyond. This recap was incredibly fun to write despite how frustrating the first eight innings of the game were. I would have stuck with this game even if I was not writing the recap. It is games like this that push my passion for the game further.
D-backs have set a franchise record tonight for most runs scored while being held to five or fewer hits. Had previously scored seven twice, most recently 21st June 2015 against the Padres.— AZ SnakePit (@AZSnakepit) April 22, 2021
Post-game audio [or link]
Here is what manager Torey Lovullo, late-innings hero Josh VanMeter and outfield assistant Kole Calhoun had to say after this rather enjoyable come from behind victory.
Would you take a look at that beautiful roller coaster drop? So much fun.
Total comments: 221
Total commenters: 21
Commenter list: Augdogs, AzDbackfanInDc, DORRITO, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, Xerostomia, edbigghead, gzimmerm, kilnborn, makattack71, piratedan7