I hadn’t seen Riley Smith pitch, or start, for the Diamondbacks this year, I don’t think, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. With Merrill Kelly this afternoon joining Taylor Widener on the IL, I was curious to watch him, especially given that we’re probably going to see him frequently in a starting role for the foreseeable future.
The game didn’t get off to a terrific start, to be honest. The Marlins pitcher, a hard-throwing righty named Sandy Alcantara, pitched around a one-out Asdrubel Cabrera single to retire the top of the lineup while only throwing nine pitches. Riley Smith initially seemed like he would follow suit, sitting down the first two batters he faced on three pitches each, with both at-bats ending with easy groundouts. Smith is a sinkerballer, so that’s exactly what one hopes to see. He seemed to lose the strike zone, though, walking Marlins left fielder Corey DIckerson on five pitches. He then gave up a single to right fielder Adam Duvall. Then, in his first at-bat since returning from the injured list, Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson launched a no-doubter into the empty seats in right. The inning ended with another groundout, but a crooked number happened. 3-0 Miami
The Diamondbacks managed to load the bases with two outs in the top of the second, thanks to a 10-pitch AB that Nick Ahmed put together against Alcantara that culminated in a line-drive single to left center, a Josh Rojas walk, and a bit of clown show fielding by the Marlins that put Riley Smith himself on first. That turned over the lineup, but sadly Pavin Smith couldn’t deliver.
Riley settled down in the second, and throughout the rest of his five innings of work only allowed two more hits and one walk. Sadly, the Diamondbacks offense was struggling with Alcantara, so we continued to put up goose eggs until the top of the fifth, when Josh Rojas continued his recent power surge with this:
Josh Rojas continues his hot streak by launching this one! pic.twitter.com/qk173ZSeKC— Bally Sports Arizona (@BallySportSAZ) May 5, 2021
That was all we managed, but at least we were beginning to chip away. 3-1 Miami
We scratched across another in the top of the sixth, thanks to a Christian Walker leadoff single and a David Peralta grounder to second that looked like prime double play material, until the Marlins clown show defense erupted again:
A lucky break goes the D-backs way. 1-run game now! pic.twitter.com/o2pZk4ZMh4— Bally Sports Arizona (@BallySportSAZ) May 5, 2021
Our bullpen was in play now, which can certainly be a cause of concern, but JJ Bukauskas pitched a spotless sixth and Taylor Clarke a spotless seventh.
We were also into the Marlins bullpen at this point, and in the top of the eighth we finally broke through. David Peralta drew a leadoff walk against Marlins’ reliever Anthony Bass, and Tim Locastro pinch ran for him. Carson Kelly singled to left, and Dalton Varsho was brought in t pinch run for him. Eduardo Escobar then singled to left, scoring Locastro easily. Nick Ahmed then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but the Marlins catcher fluffed it, allowing Nick to reach and reload the bases. All good, right?
Wrong. The error, while not his fault, earned Bass the hook, and some guy named Richard Bleier took the mound for the fish. He struck out Rojas. He struck out pinch-hitter Wyatt Mathisen, he struck out Pavin Smith. Boo. But at least we had tied the game, right? 3-3 TIE
Kevin Ginkel took the ball for the bottom of the eighth, and I found myself being to worry about the possibility of the game going to extras. Ha. I need not have worried. Ginkel did his best Anthony Bass impression, surrendering a leadoff double to Marlins leadoff hitter Miguel Rojas, a single to the next guy up that scored Rojas, and then a “single” to Walker at first that proved that, when we put our minds to it, we can outdo anyone in the area of clown show fielding. Walker tried to flip the ball to Ginkel, who was covering first. He failed to achieve this, and the ball rolled down the first base line, where Stephen Vogt was waiting for it. He threw it to third to try to catch the runner trying to advance, and failed to hit his target. Unless of course his target was off in the distance down the left field line, of course. You never know.
Anyway. Ginkel was yanked for Alex Young, and the trainwreck continued. I’ll spare you the gory details, but by the time the inning was over, eleven Marlins hitters had come to the plate, and six Miami runs had scored. 9-3 Miami
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, were so thoroughly deflated that the top of the order went down in order to put us all out of our misery.
Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs
Keanu Reeves: David Peralta, +22.4% WPA
Keanu Reeves: Eduardo Escobar, +16.9% WPA
Keanu Reeves: Kevin Ginkel, -35.4% WPA
The Gameday Thread had 180 comments by 20 commenters, with Nik leading the way with 29 of ‘em. All present and accounted for were: Augdogs, AzDbackfanInDc, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Justin27, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, edbigghead, gzimmerm, kilnborn, makattack71, since_98
Comment of the game goes to Keegan for this nice bit of snarky about the loyal and avid fans over in Miami:
Join us tomorrow, if you dare, for the second game of the series, as Luke Weaver faces off against, well, the Marlins don’t seem to know yet. Some guy, whatever, it’ll be great! Anyway. First pitch, will be 3:40pm AZ time, just like today. Hope you can join us!
As always, thanks for reading, and go D-Backs!