Record: 20-44. Pace: 51-111. Change on 2004: -6.
We apologize for the absence of your regularly-scheduled beercap, Turambar having to bail at the last minute due to - and I quote - a “social event I was not planning on.” In other words: Mrs. Turambar. :) He is ordered to spend the weekend getting lack of sensitivity training, and will be back Monday. On the plus side, you have one of the few SnakePit writers who does not care about the NBA playoffs, so this game will at least be getting my full attention. Having spoken in the preview about the joy of Shohei Ohtani, I might well have been watching this one anyway. It was also nice to see Bob Brenly back in the booth, his absence being another reason I chose not to watch any games this week.
In that area, the horrendous level of play recently is enough reason, though that fits in to a beercap nicely. However, due to the short notice for this one, all I have in the house is about 20 cans which were left over from Mrs. SnakePit's RockyHorrorFest a couple of weeks back. So, put it like this: it's going to be the Kid Rick of Beercaps, as these things go. You have been warned. But then, this loss was pretty much the Kid Rock of defeats, so it’s fitting.
Beer #1. Pabst Blue Ribbon
The Angels were retired, 1-2-3, in the first, by Merrill Kelly, the "final girl" of the 2021 Diamondbacks rotation. Or, as kilnborn put it:
For, yes: Shohei Ohtani was in the second spot tonight, and so became the first pitcher in recorded National League history to bat anywhere in the top four spots of a batting order. Hr grounded out firmly to Asdrubal Cabrera at first base, in his opening at-bat, but only after sending a laser down the right-field line, which drew oohs from the crowd before it went foul. He then took the mound, and struck out two of the three D-backs he faced, with a splitter that they obviously were completely unable to recognize. One inning in, and it felt like it was going to be a long night - though the Arizona hitters were apparently doing their best to hurry things up.
After another 1-2-3 inning by Kelly, the Diamondbacks did get the game's first hit. It came from Pavin Smith, who doubled into the left-center gap with one out. On the commentary, Bob Brenly noted that when Ohtani fell behind, he'd usually throw a fastball. That's exactly what he did, and Smith was ready for it. However, David Peralta's recent struggles continued, as he struck out on three pitches. Carson Kelly put a charge into one the other way, but it died at the warning track in right, and the runner was stranded.
The third inning from Kelly was... not good. A lead-off home-run to Kurt Suzuki, a walk to Justin Upton (on a dodgy call, it must be said), then a pitch to Ohtani that was scorched to the outfield wall. Velocity off the bat? 114.9 mph. That's harder than any ball hit by any Diamondback batter this year. Though we should not be surprised, since Ohtani has the hardest-hit ball in the majors this year, at 119.0 mph. However, Ohtani fouled a pitch off his knee and crumpled to the ground. He stayed in, got his RBI double, and ran the bases, scoring on an RBI single, making the score 3-0 to Angels.
Beer #2. Pabst Blue Ribbon
While Ohtani stayed in the game, it did seem to have affected him. For he walked Merrill Kelly, the career .014 hitter. Josh Rojas legged out an infield single, to bring the tying run to the plate with one out. But never mind three runs, neither Ketel Marte nor Cabrera could get even a single run home. Marte did at least advance the runner, but Asdrubal whiffed on a pitch well off the plate inside. Undaunted, Arizona got two in scoring position once more in the fourth, after an Escobar bunt single and a Peralta double off the wall in centre. C. Kelly, who had feasted on high fastballs earlier in the year, struck out on such a pitch, and Nick Ahmed also carried his bat back to the dugout. 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position through four innings.
Do I have enough beer?
In the top of the fifth, Ohtani repaid M. Kelly for his knee by lining a pitch back off Merrill, at 109 mph (above). Kelly stayed in the game and completed his five innings. The D-backs had had someone warming up in the bullpen during the previous inning, but this certainly solidified the decision to end Kelly's night. He was charged with three runs on four hits and two walks, with six strikeouts. A plunking of pinch-hitter Tim Locastro (moving him into fourth all-time on the franchise HBP list) and a walk to Marte once again put men in scoring position for the Diamondbacks. How would Arizona strand them?
Well, this is one of those good news/bad news situations. The good news is, I guess, the bottom line, that Arizona scored two runs. However, that feat required a lot of help from Ohtani, who balked TWICE, the second getting home Arizona’s first run. He then uncorked a run-scoring wild pitch, making it a one-run game. But in among that excitement, Cabrera, Escobar and Peralta all made outs: 0-for-9 with RISP. Ohtani, meanwhile, became the first pitcher with two balks in a game against Arizona since Odalis Perez of the Nationals on July 8, 2008. Oddly, Perez also balked twice in the same inning that day.
Joe Mantiply came in from the bullpen to take over for Kelly in the sixth, but struggled. Three consecutive hits with one out scored a run for the Angels. After a bunt put two in scoring position for them, Torey Lovullo went to Kevin Ginkel, who managed to strand the runners. Ohtani was taken out of th... no, scratch that. He was taken off the mound in the bottom of the sixth, but just went to the outfield instead. Mrs. SnakePit's mind was officially blown by this. Especially when I told her Shohei could, technically, go back to the mound and start pitching again. "Why don't we have somebody like that?", she asked. Good question, Mrs. S.
The move immediately backfired badly for the Angels. C. Kelly singled, and Nick Ahmed doubled, then Christian Walker bounced one to third. The throw came home, but an error on the catcher allowed Arizona to score - for the third consecutive time, without an RISP hit. Josh Rojas finally ended the streak at 0-for-11 with a liner to center (below), that tied up the score at 4-4.
Beer #3. Pabst Blue Ribbon
There was nothing else doing there for Arizona, as Marte hit into a double-play and Cabrera struck out. Into the seventh, with Taylor Clarke taking over. Upton singled to Escobar, though a good throw from Eduardo would certainly have got J-Up. Right fielder Ohtani hit a double off the fence at a mere 108.3 mph, putting Clarke in a jam. He got the first out on a shallow fly, and after an intentional walk to load the bases, a strikeout provided the second out. But as seems to have happened quite often, Arizona couldn't close the deal. A wild pitch gave the visitors a 5-4 lead, before a liner ended the top of the seventh. Peralta's two-out double after the stretch was, inevitably, stranded.
The eighth saw Stefan Crichton hit Suzuki to lead off the inning, then plunked the first base umpire with a pick-off throw. In between times, we got a Phil Gosselin sighting. He's with his fifth different team, since leaving the Diamondbacks at the end of 2016. Things seemed to be trundling towards defeat thereafter, without much drama. The ninth opened with Marte and Cabrera each striking out on three pitches. If looked like Escobar would suffer the same fate, just in a slightly more extended way. But down to his final strike, he was able to turn on one, and get it just over the fence in right (below), tying the game up again, at 5-5 - just after the invoking of St. Penelope of the Cross by Justin in the GDT. Doubt ye not her power.
Extra innings? Why not? We've had everything else!
The tenth started with Ryan Buchter on the mound and a runner on second. He got the difficult first out - but then delivered the third balk of the night, and hit the batter. Torey Lovullo tried to lift Buchter. The commentators wondered, because the pitcher had only faced two batters, and the new rules require three. Weirdly, the umpires didn't notice, but Angels manager Joe Madden did. After Buchter had gone into the dugout, replaced by Riley Smith, he had to go back to the mound and face another hitter. He hit Suzuki with his first pitch. The pitching change then happened legally, with the bases now loaded and one out. A groundout brought in one run, but a leaping grab by Escobar saved further damage.
I begin to wonder if the Diamondbacks might be better off NOT starting extra innings with a man on second base. Because, y'know, that whole "runners in scoring position" thing. Tonight, C. Kelly and Ahmed failed to advance the gift runner, meaning they were again down to their last out. This time, it was in the shape of Stephen Vogt. Could he pull an Escobar? Nah. He instead became the fifteenth D-back strikeout of the evening, and they finished the night a particularly crappy 1-for-17 with RISP. You expected, perhaps, something different?
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Austin Powers: Eduardo Escobar, +47.8%
Ivana Humpalot: R. Smith, +16.1%; Walker, =12.8%; Rojas, +11.6%; Peralta, +11.6%
Dr. Evil: Carson Kelly, -31.8%
Mini-Me: Cabrera, -25.2%; P. Smith, -20.2%; Vogt, -17.2%; Ahmed, -14.7%; Marte, -14.2%; Clarke, -13.8%; Mantiply, -12.6%; M. Kelly, -11.2%
I’m not sure I’ve seen many games where we have had NINE players worse than -10% in terms of Win Probability. Well done, I guess? In the Gameday Thread were: AzDbackfanInDc, DORRITO, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Justin27, Makakilo, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Preston Salisbury, Rockkstarr12, Smurf-1000, Snake_Bitten, Tom Babbage, gzimmerm, kilnborn and since_98. kilnborn takes home comment of the night, which you can find roughly 1,600 words above these ones, and what feels like a geological epoch ago. I hope Turambar enjoyed his social function half as much as I enjoyed the game, with all its weirdness.
Tomorrow sees the same two teams, but it’s a rare Saturday afternoon game at Chase Field. It probably won’t be as much fun as this, regardless of the result.