Mr. Burt was feeling a little post-vaxxy tonight, so called in a pinch-recapper. All told, he could simply have got away with copy-pasting last night’s recap, and in all likelihood, nobody would have noticed the difference. Once again, the D-backs’ offense was unable to get anything much done, and consequently were swept in the four-game series. Since May 7, the Diamondbacks have posted ten losses, and not scored more than two runs in any of those contests. Put another way, the Giants scored four more runs TODAY than the D-backs have in their last ten defeats combined. With the team now 3-14 over their last seventeen games, the similarities to last year’s slump become ever sharper.
The Diamondbacks did have their chances to take the lead. In the first, Pavin Smith singled, and Josh Rojas doubled. The problem was that in between them, Ketel Marte, in his first start off the injured list, grounded into a double-play. Eduardo Escobar then also grounded out to end the inning, though hit it hard. His 103.5 mph was the hardest-hit ball by either team through five innings. In the second, David Peralta shot a pitch the other way for a one-out double. But Domingo Leyba and Stephen Vogt couldn't bring him home. The Diamondbacks remained at only one hit with RISP in the series - Escobar's eighth inning single on Monday.
Los Angeles took the lead in the second. Will Smith proved to be an enemy of the state of Arizona, legging out an infield hit that came off the bat at "Greinke eephus" speed i.e. 58.5 mph. Unfortunately, after a 1-2-3 first, Merrill Kelly served up a belt high pitch over the outer portion of the plate. Albert Pujols gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead, going to the opposite field, and just speaking it over the fence. That was career home-run #668, just one less than his number of doubles.
There then began a spell of at-bats that showed up one of the main issues with the current game. Pujols' home-run took place at 7:44 pm. There was not another ball put in play for a full twenty minutes, until Max Muncy singled at 8:04 pm. In between those two at-bats, this is what happened:
Seven consecutive batters struck out in this game. pic.twitter.com/2ZzmL46kt4— AZ SnakePit (@AZSnakepit) May 21, 2021
Yeah, you wonder why I don't find watching baseball as much fun as it used to be. The above is probably one of the reasons. Over the entire course of the game, more than half of the outs recorded (27 of 51) had involved the hitter carrying their own bat back to the dugout. It's just not very entertaining. The balance between hitters and pitchers seems to have toppled over towards the latter. Or maybe it's just our offense, which has a realistic shot at the worst month in franchise history - though Coors is always gonna Coors.
Arizona’s streak of futility with runners in scoring position finally came to an end at 0-for-13, in the sixth. Marte punched one down the left-field line for a double. One out later, Escobar surpassed his earlier ground-out with a 104 mph hit (below), this one clearing the fence in right. It was his second two-run homer in consecutive games, and tied the score at 2-2. A couple of Los Angeles errors then helped put runners on the corners for the Diamondbacks. Perhaps surprisingly, the D-backs didn't pinch-hit for Leyba with Andrew Young. Or anyone. Leyba duly struck out: after tonight, he is 0-for-11 since his call-up. I guess the PEDs must have worn off... [Sarcasm font doesn't work in stories, sorry]
Outside of the homer to Pujols, Kelly had an excellent night through six innings. He had allowed five hits, but had walked nine, and needed only 80 pitches. But his first offering in the pursuit of happyness in the seventh, was dispatched by Will Smith for another homer, and a 3-2 Dodgers lead. Merrill then struck out the next three batters to finish with 12 strikeouts. That shattered his previous high of ten K's. He became only the third Arizona pitcher since 2004 with 12+ strikeouts and no walks in an outing. Patrick Corbin had a 12 K outing in June 2018, and Robbie Ray a 14 K start in September 2017. [Randy Johnson had ten such outings, Curt Schilling six. The only other such was by Omar Daal, of all people]
Escobar put the tying run on base with a two-out single in the top of the eighth inning. He was lifted for a pinch-runner in Tim Locastro. Though Eduardo did seem to take an awkward swing during his at-bat, and that may have factored into the decision. Unfortunately, Locastro was thrown out trying to steal second, ending the frame. Tim only has one successful SB since coming off the injured list on May 3. As Jack mentioned in the Gameday Thread, he has not been a positive on the basepaths this year. And given he isn't hitting worth a damn ( OPS+ 52) either... Well, we haven't heard much from the "Let Timmy play!" crowd of late, have we?
Joakim Soria put men on second and third in the bottom half of the inning, but was able to strand then, and keep it a one-run game. Not that it mattered. With the help of a blown call by Marvin Hudson ‐ not his first of the night - the Diamondbacks were retired in order. Arizona ended with 14 K’s, Los Angeles with 13. It was the ninth regulation length game already this season where both sides struck out at least thirteen times. There were NONE of them in the 2010-2012 seasons.
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Eduardo Escobar, +24.7%
Darth Vader: Merrill Kelly, -15.5%
Grand Moff Tarkin: Domingo Leyba, -12.9%
About the only positive was a lively Gameday Thread, which I genuinely enjoyed. I think, at this point, they are probably more entertaining than the games. Present were: AzDbackfanInDc, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Imstillhungry95, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Jsch08, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, Xerostomia, kilnborn and since_98. No comment of the night though: all the leading candidates got disqualified for one reason or another e.g. being GIFs and/or off-topic. I still enjoyed reading it. Probably more than the game, if truth be told.
It’s on to Colorado now, and the battle for last place in the NL West. Unless the D-backs can turn things around, they could leave Coors Field owning the cellar. First pitch tomorrow is at 5:40 pm Arizona time, with Seth Frankoff starting for the Diamondbacks.