Well, here we are again Pitters. Ten losses in a row. The longest losing streak since 2010. 4-and-20 record for the month of May. How did we get there tonight you ask? Just grab yourself a morning shower beer, and I will explain it to you.
Merrill Kelly faced off against Johnny Cueto at Chase Field. Kelly has been reliable for what we should expect out of him although the results are less than incredible, pitching into the sixth inning in each of his last five starts. He has also allowed less than three earned runs in each of those outings and would match that trend again tonight. At one point in the game he retired eleven Giants hitter in a row. Remarkably, he very nearly had an immaculate fifth inning were it not for a called ball during Mike Tauchman’s at bat. Before I transition to the ugly, and there is a lot of it, I want to commend Merrill once again for what he has been able to accomplish coming back from thoracic outlet surgery. He put the Arizona Diamondbacks in a position to win tonight. He has done so for the last month, but has a W/L record of 0-3 to show for it. Far from his fault.
Cueto has always had success in his career at Chase Field with a 3.30 ERA, 8-1 record in 12 starts, but he did not have his best stuff tonight. Cueto’s frustration on the mound was evident as he yelled at himself on the mound and struggled to locate at times. Josh Rojas hit a lead off double against him in the bottom of the first and was driven in on a right field single from Ketel Marte. You’re goofy if you thought they’d add to that in the first given recent offensive struggles, but they were able to do so in the second inning.
Three consecutive singles courtesy of Josh Reddick, Pavin Smith, and Nick Ahmed to begin the bottom of the second gave Arizona a 2-0 lead. Merrill Kelly helped himself out by advancing Smith and Ahmed with a successful bunt. That allowed Josh Rojas to drive both of them in with a single of his own to make the score 4-0.
The game was rosy with that Arizona lead until it all unraveled in the back half. Merrill’s streak of 11 batters retired in a row ended with a lead off pinch hit single from Steven Duggar in the sixth inning. Mike Yastrzemski hit a slicing double down the left field line that was just barely fair to bring him home. Merrill then spiked a curveball in the dirt against Buster Posey that deflected off of Carson Kelly’s chest which allowed Yastrzemski to advance to third base. He would later score on a groundout from Posey. However, Merrill would hold the Giants to limit the damage and escape the inning with a 4-2 lead intact for Arizona. He was only at 81 pitches at the conclusion of the sixth inning.
Torey Lovullo opted to pinch hit Andrew Young for Merrill in the bottom of the sixth after Ahmed hit a two out double, but Andrew struck out to end the inning. Even though Merrill was only at 81 pitches, it was probably the right call considering San Francisco had broken through against him in the sixth. Lovullo turned to Taylor Clarke first out of the bullpen. It proved to be a good move because he retired Evan Longoria, Mike Tauchman, and Mauricio Dubon in order on only 6 pitches.
Stefan Crichton replaced Clarke in the eighth and immediately gave up a leadoff double to Donovan Solano. He got the next two outs relatively easy, but Lovullo again dipped into his bullpen to have Alex Young face off against pinch hitter Austin Slater. Alex got ahead of him and had a 1-2 count, but Slater crushed a 2-2 cutter deep to left field to tie the game. The very next batter, Jason Vosler, worked a 9 pitch at bat until giving the Giants the lead with a home run into the visitor’s bullpen. Pain.
Arizona tried to mount a comeback in the bottom of the ninth, but it would ultimately prove to be unsuccessful. Pavin Smith and Nick Ahmed hit consecutive singles to begin the frame, the third hit of the game for each of them. Lovullo pinch ran Tim Locastro for Pavin for obvious reasons. Stephen Vogt hit a flyout to center field as a pinch hitter that should have been deep enough to advance Locastro, but he opted to remain put at second base. That would prove costly as it would have been the tying run because Josh Rojas followed with a single of his own, also his third hit of the game. However, now the bases were loaded with only one out and Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar due up. Once again the baseball gods scoffed at Arizona’s woes when Marte struck out and Escobar grounded out to end the game.
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