On paper, this evening’s match-up of starting pitchers looked like a mis-match. But then, so did last night’s, and that ended up not unfolding as expected. This one, however... Adam Wainwright has more top three Cy Young finishes in his career than Seth Frankoff has appearances. While Wainright’s glory days may be behind him - his last mention on a Cy Young ballot was 2014 - he was still plenty good enough to take care of the Diamondbacks. Meanwhile, Seth Frankoff, it has to be said, probably did a bit better than Madison Bumgarner did last night, and a fraction of the cost. So there’s that. But the losing streak reached 13, and defeat tomorrow would tie the all-time franchise record.
I kinda feel for Frankoff. There are times when he looks really good. In the first inning, he made five-time All-Star Nolan Arenado look pretty silly, getting him to take an 88 mph slider and 91 mph fastball for strikes, then have an ugly swing over the top of a curveball. But that only came after his second pitch of the game sailed up and in, plunking the Cardinals’ lead-off hitter high on the shoulder. That run came home to score on a single by Yadier Molina, giving St. Louis a lead they would not relinquish. But he then got Tyler O’Neill to strike out, on an almost non-stop procession of sliders. Frankoff faced the minimum in the second, helped by a beautiful strikeout/caught stealing, Stephen Vogt delivering the latter.
Then the third inning happened.
While all five runs in it were charged to Frankoff, it would certainly have been less expensive, had the D-backs defense played their part. After a lead-off single, Frankoff coaxed what looked like a tailor-made groundball to Josh Rojas. But he booted it, and instead of the double-play which would have cleared the bases and put two outs up, he could only get the man at first. Frankoff was clearly not happy, then walking some Goldschmidt guy and hitting Arenado to load the bases. In the space of five pitches, the score went from 1-0 to 6-0. Molina hit a two-run single and O’Neill a two-run double, both on the first pitch, and an RBI groundout later in the inning completed the damage.
He hit for himself in the bottom of the third. Something of a surprise, but we needed something approaching length. The last five starts for Arizona had totaled just 20.1 innings, with only Merrill Kelly even completing five frames. But he did at least reach base for the first time in his MLB career, drawing a walk from Wainwright. That was better than the eight “hitters” in the line-up had done the first time through the order, going 0-for-8 with three strikeouts. The K’s of Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar in the first were almost identical. Foul off a 75 mph curveball, then take a 92 mph fastball/sinker for a called strike three. Any hopes of this being even a competitive loss seemed slim.
Frankoff ended up going five innings, allowing one more run on a solo home-run to O’Neill in the fifth. He was charged with seven runs on five hits and four walks, with two hit batters and five strikeouts - though as noted, wasn’t quite as bad as that line suggests. His career ERA is now 9.22 though, and you have to imagine he’s only getting starts because we don’t really have anyone better. Escobar had broken up the no-hjtter with a one-out double in the fourth, though inevitably was stranded there. But with the D-backs 7-0 down in the middle of the fifth. there seemed little room for optimism. Put it this way, I was plowing into the Pabst Blue Ribbon like there was no tomorrow.
Arizona got on the board in the bottom half. Pavin Smith blooped a single to left, and one out later, Stephen Vogt hit his fourth home-run of the year (above). But it was the bottom of the sixth, where it was the home team’s turn to ambush the opposing pitcher. The first four Diamondbacks reached, on a walk and three hits, scoring two runs to make it 7-4,, and bringing the tying run to the plate. It should have been five in a row reaching; instead, Nick Ahmed got a horrendous strike call from the home plate umpire*, on what should have been ball four, and ended up striking out. Good news! Vogt walked to load the bases. Bad news! Pinch-hitting for Alex Young, who’d replaced Frankoff, was Domingo “0-for-16” Leyba.
* I would show you the pitch in question, but the sucky Bally Sports App does not have the ability to rewind, so there’s no way to get a screen grab. I miss Fox Sports Go.
Make that 0-for-17, as Leyba could only fly out to left-field. By doing so, he set a new franchise record, being the only player in team history to go hitless in his first nine games of the season (with at least one AB or SF). The previous worst was eight, set by Kevin Cron last year, and Mike DeFelice back in 2001. Not helping matters was a slew of sloppiness in the field by the Diamondbacks. There were only two “official” errors - by David Peralta and Nick Ahmed. But there were a number of other plays, such as the Rojas one, where there was certainly room for improvement. For example, Marte in center, had two balls he could have played better. On the other hand, Vogt had two CS, one of which saved a run in the eighth.
Have to say, the D-backs bullpen did their job after the starter didn’t, for the second night in a row. Alex Young, Taylor Clarke, Joe Mantiply and Kevin Ginkel each tossed a scoreless inning, which is good to see. Pavin Smith singled to lead off the bottom of the eighth, his third hit of the night. That gave him a five-game streak of multihit games, the longest for Arizona since Marte’s eight-game streak in June 2019. It’s also the longest by a Diamondbacks’ rookie since... er, Yasmany Tomas went six in a row in 2015. You’ll understand I had to check that. Twice. May 16-21, since you ask. But there was nothing else doing for the D-backs there.
Things did get interesting in the ninth. Rojas doubled off the wall in center, and Marte walked, to bring the tying run to the plate again, with no outs this time. However, Escobar flew out, Peralta struck out and Christian Walker, with a chance to be the hero in his first game back off the injured list, also went down swinging, and another defeat went into the books. Escobar reached base three times, on a hit and two walks, and the crowd of 17,834 at Chase Field tonight, was the biggest since Opening Day.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Aliens: Pavin Smith, +16.1%
Alien Resurrection: Seth Frankoff, -33.1%
Alien3: Nick Ahmed, -14.8%
Considering the early going, quite impressed to see the GDT get over 200. It has also been a VERY long while since I had most comments in a GDT. But I enjoyed it. Mrs. SnakePit must invite people over more often. :) Present were: 4 Corners Fan, AzDbackfanInDc, AzRattler, DORRITO, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Justin27, Keegan Thompson, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Snake_Bitten, edbigghead, ford.williams.10, kilnborn and since_98. For the second night in a row, a movie meme gets comment of the night, this one belonging to Snake_Bitten.
We will be back at Chase tomorrow, with a first pitch just after 1 pm and Matt Peacock starting for the D-backs. Join us, why don’t you, to see if history can be made. Or, at least, tied.