With the Diamondbacks' rotation largely in flux, one of the few certainties has been Madison Bumgarner every fifth day. His past five starts had been stellar: as we documented previously, by some standards, it was the best ever spell by any Arizona pitcher. He had looked almost in complete control throughout. This evening was considerably more of a struggle, with Madison's command being a battle of wills. More concerning, he then left the game after four innings, under rather murky circumstances.
In his half of the first, Bumgarner worked around a two-out walk, getting Albert Pujols to fly out harmlessly in his first plate appearance since coming down the freeway from the Angels. But in the second, Los Angeles catcher Will Smith proved a bad boy, going deep to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. They added another in the third, though Bumgarner should have been out of the inning. After issuing a pair of one-out walks, he got a groundball off the bat of nemesis Max Muncy. But Eduardo Escobar's throw to Nick Ahmed was high, and the double-play couldn't be turned. Bumgarner was clearly annoyed, and with good reason. For Pujols then rolled a pitch into left-center, getting his first hit and RBI as a Dodger.
By the time Madison was out of the inning, he was up to 63 pitches, a dozen more than it should have been. The Diamondbacks then wasted a gift opportunity in the fourth, as it was Buehler's turn to lose control. He came into this game having issued based on balls to just three of the 170 batters faced over his first seven starts this tear. But with one out, he walked David Peralta, Domingo Leyba and Stephen Vogt, loading the bases. Stop me if you have heard this before. Yep. They were left that way, as Nick Ahmed went down on a stream of sliders and Tim Locastro flew out weakly to right. It was what we should have expected:
Nick Ahmed is now 0 for 8 with the bases loaded this season, and just 2 for 26 (.077) with RISP.— D-backs facts & stats (@dbaxfax) May 18, 2021
Bumgarner took his at-bat in the top of the fifth, striking out. However, there had been discussions in the dugout, involving him, the trainer and manager before that. Those then continued in the middle of the fifth, and after a delay, Caleb Smith took the mound. The length of his warm-up implied he was indeed an injury replacement, though there had been nothing in Bumgarner’s fourth and final inning to indicate any particular problem. Sure he had walked four, but so had Buehler, and there had been suggestions the mound was a bit unstable. It felt weirdly like the situation with Luke Weaver on Sunday. But it certainly cast a nice sense of doom and futility over the remainder of proceedings tonight.
On the plus side, it did provide me with something to write about for this recap. Because the Arizona bats sure as shit didn't. When they hit the ball hard - which wasn’t often - it went unerringly to a Dodgers’ defender. Through 7.1 innings, Arizona’s only hit was a 76.5 mph chopper off the plate in the first, by Josh Rojas. This was one of those games where a two-run deficit felt like twenty, after that bases loaded opportunity. 12 consecutive Diamondbacks were retired from that point on, most of them with disturbing quickness.
However, Pavin Smith’s one-out walk in the eighth ended the streak of retired D-Backs. Another infield hit by Rojas and a knock by Escobar that the infielder could only knock into the shallow outfield, ended the shutout as well. Peralta was a victim of the shift again, and just avoided a double-play, putting runners on the corners with two outs for Leyba. The Dodgers went to Kenley Jansen, and Leyba could only ground out on a slow roller, though the Diamondbacks were back within one run, at 2-1.
The bullpen had done their part to that point. Caleb Smith put up a pair of zeroes in the fifth and sixth, albeit leaving the bases loaded in the latter. Joe Mantiply then had a perfect seventh with a pair of strikeouts. Unfortunately, Taylor Clarke couldn't keep it a one-run game, allowing a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. Arizona then made it interesting, as a walk to Ahmed and Locastro single put the tying run on base, with one out. Unfortunately, there would be no dramatic heroics from Andrew Young on this occasion, as he hit into a game-ending double-play. The Diamondbacks are now 1-18 when they fail to score 5+ runs, including sixteen consecutive defeats in such games.
After the game, there was some good news from Torey Lovullo, who said Bumgarner was removed from the game due to “adductor spasms”. I’m sure you are all aware that the adductor muscles of the hip are a group of muscles mostly used for bringing the thighs together. I may or may not simply have copy-pasted the preceding wholesale from Wikipedia. Quite why they might spasm, or what the effects might be, it’s hard to say. But it does appear this was more precautionary than anything immediately requiring a trip to the disabled list - if I’d to guess, think of it as closer to cramping than a strain. [Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV].
However, it did appear to be a recurring problem tonight. After the game, Bumgarner repoted that he felt the tightness and discomfort in the adductor warming up and all game. He also said it probably affected his command. We’ll hope that it is something which can be addressed - or better yet, simply will go away - before his next start, scheduled to be on Sunday. Here’s what Torey and Madison had to say after the game [audio link]
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Godzilla: Josh Rojas, +5.5%
Mechagodzilla: Andrew Young, -18.7%
MUTOs: Leyba, -10.8%; Peralta, -10.1%
A fairly active Gameday Thread, quite surprising considering how little there was to talk about in terms of D-backs’ performance. Which is why the conversation turned towards UFOs. I sense a question for this weekend’s Round Table... Present were: AzDbackfanInDc, DBacksEurope, Diamondhacks, GuruB, HeathKBar, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Justin27, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, Oldenschoole, SenSurround, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, gzimmerm, kilnborn and makattack71, with Smurf1000 getting comment of the night for this sardonic comment on the (lack of) offense:
Same two teams tomorrow, though at this point nobody seems to know who’ll be starting for the Diamondbacks. Probably want to make sure they don’t fall down the stairs at the hotel overnight or something.