This was the kind of outing that shows you why the team persists with Luke Weaver. When he's good, he's VERY good, and tonight was one of those occasions. He was very effective, highly efficient and took a shutout into the seventh. In his two wins this year, Luke hasn't allowed a run in 13.1 innings, on only five hits with a K:BB of 14:1. Over his three losses, Weaver's ERA is 9.69. Meanwhile, after a road-trip where extra-base hits were like hen's teeth, seven of Arizona’s eight hits tonight were for multiple bags. Combine those two things, and Arizona’s six-game losing streak was put to bed.
Good Weaver showed up immediately, retiring the Marlins in order, and needing just nine pitches to do so. The D-backs then opened up with back-to-back doubles from Pavin Smith and Carson Kelly... and failed to score a run on them. Kelly's double was off the wall in center, and Smith had to hold up initially, so was stopped at third. A walk to Asdrubal Cabrera loaded the bases, still with no outs, before Arizona did what Arizona has been doing, and largely spurned the opportunity. David Peralta did get a run home on a groundout, but Christian Walker hit into an inning-ending double-play.
Weaver worked nicely around a lead-off double in the second. and was being aggressive with his fastball. He was working quickly, which is always a good sign for Luke. He retired eleven in a row, and the Diamondbacks threatened once more in the bottom of the third. Weaver drew a lead-off walk, improving his career K:BB ratio to 44:3. Smith followed by banging a single back up the middle for his second hit, and Kelly drew a full-count walk. That loaded the bases with nobody out for the second time in three innings, as the Marlins pitcher, making his first MLB start, struggled to locate his offerings. This time, Arizona cashed in, Cabrera smacking a pitch into the right-field corner for a two-run double (below) and a 3-0 lead.
Big 2-base, 2-RBI knock from Asdrúbal! pic.twitter.com/bgf1neOVHK— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) May 11, 2021
It was the first Arizona multi-RBI knock since Stephen Vogt's two-RBI triple against the Rockies on May 2; they had none over the entire road-trip. While Peralta, Walker and Eduardo Escobar made outs, a passed ball did make it 4-0 to Arizona. After another 1-2-3 inning by Weaver, the top of the fifth will be remembered for a brilliant, bare-handed play of the year candidate from Nick Ahmed on an infield chopper (below). He nailed the speedy runner by the width of a toenail. Daulton Varsho made his bid to join Nick on the highlight reel, with a diving catch attempt. Unfortunately the ball went right through him for a triple, ending Weaver's streak. However, he retired the next batter to keep the shutout going.
He's got a pair of Gold Gloves, but @NickAhmed13 didn't need either of them for this play. #SlickNick pic.twitter.com/j7deXXfUwM— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) May 11, 2021
The long-awaited tacos then finally showed up, courtesy of Peralta and Walker. Each man doubled hard - 107 and 110 mph off the bat - in the fifth, to make it 5-0 to Arizona. Weaver did allow a lead-off single in the sixth. No problem, said Luke, picking the runner off for the second out. He was through six scoreless innings on only 65 pitches, with only 14 balls, although there was action in the Arizona bullpen, first from Chris Devenski, then Taylor Clarke. Weaver hit for himself in the bottom of the sixth (against former D-back prospect, Luis Madero, making his MLB debut; he was traded to the Angels back in 2017 for David Hernandez), and took the mound in the seventh.
He did allow a lead-off single, yet got to leave on a high, after his sixth and final K. He was lifted at 6.1 innings, with a final line of four hits and no walks. Weaver had still only thrown 75 pitches, and did seem to have gas left in the tank. Just one Diamondback starter since 2007 has has an outing of more than six innings that was also 75 or fewer pitches. Zack Greinke needed 75 to get through seven frames on June 13, 2019. [Probably the most efficient ever was Curt Schilling in a 2003 start, where he used 64 pitches to record 20 outs] Clarke took over, and gave up a single to the first batter he faced, before getting the next two outs.
The shutout did not survive the eighth inning, however. Another missed dive by Varsho led to another Miami triple, and with two outs Joakim Soria gave up a two-run homer, making the score 5-2. Cue shifting uncomfortably in our seats across Diamondbacks fandom. With it now being a save situation, Stefan Crichton came in for the ninth, and the only real drama was a shattered bat that Ahmed had to dodge while fielding a grounder. Well, that and a nice play by Smith to rob a homer, ending the game instead. It was also the first time this year the Diamondbacks pitched a full nine innings without allowing a base on balls.
A much-needed solid victory on both sides of the ball. Smith and Peralta each had a pair of hits, while Kelly, Cabrera and Ahmed each had a hit and a walk. It was the kind of game which was genuinely a pleasure to watch, and so stands in sharp contrast to all the contests on the road-trip. While Mount .500 may still be a little way off, at least it didn’t get further away tonight. Only 6,307 in attendance however; unsurprisingly the smallest crowd of the season at Chase Field, and therefore any season.
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Hugh Grant: Luke Weaver, +24.6%
Andy McDowell: Kelly, +17.7%; Cabrera, +11.6%
The audience: Christian Walker, -11.0%
Present in the Gameday Thread were: AzDbackfanInDc, DORRITO, Diamondhacks, EdTheRed99, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Snake_Bitten, Xerostomia, craiginphoenix, kilnborn and makattack71. Nothing quite turned Sedona Red, the best of the almost comments was by ‘hacks, describing the first inning situation on the basepaths:
Having overcome the sticky, Weaver-shaped patch in the rotation for now, the D-backs can look forward to the rest of the series with relative confidence. In particular, tomorrow night sees new staff ace Madison Bumgarner take the mound against these same Marlins (or a slightly difference subset thereof). It’s another 6:40 pm first pitch.