God, I don’t even want to write about this one. Not without having a lot more to drink, but there isn’t time for that. So here we go.
This was a game that, from the get-go, was going to be a battle of variant “opener” strategies, in terms of pitching. For the Giants, Zack Littell took the mound, bringing with him a sub-2.00 ERA, facing off against Alex Young, who’s been in the bullpen for us since early 2020 and who’s been one of our few relievers who’s actually been good. For San Francisco, the plan was to have Littell pitch the first, and then hand the ball over to rookie Sammy Long, who was slated to pitch the next four. As for the Diamondbacks’ plan, it was to have Young go as far as he could on 60 pitches or so, and then have Corbin Martin go as long as he could as a long reliever in his return from Reno.
The Giants’ plan blew up pretty much before it started, as the first six Diamondbacks hitters to face him reached base. Josh Rojas hit a leadoff single to left center, Ketel Marte singled to right, advancing Rojas to third, and then Carson Kelly drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases. Then Christian Walker dropped a Texas Leaguer into shallow right for a single, scoring Rojas:
Littell then walked Asdrubel Cabrera, with Marte scoring on the free pass. David Peralta singled to center, scoring Kelly and Walker and earning Littell the hook and bringing Long to the mound a bit earlier than planned. He made short work of us though, striking out Josh Reddick on five pitches and inducing a 4-6-3 double play from Nick Ahmed, who was supremely crappy at the plate tonight. Still, we had a not-insubstantial lead after half an inning. 4-0 D-BACKS
Young gave up a leadoff single to start the bottom half, but then sat down the next three batters he faced, so it was basically a shutdown inning.
He then struck out to lead off the second, but as the lineup turned over, it was just more goodness. Rojas singled to right center, and Marte singled to left. Kelly popped out to first, which was disappointing, but Walker’s second AB in the first two innings made up for that, as he launched a double into the gap in left center, plating both Rojas and Marte.
Cabrera then sent another ball to pretty much the same place, but this one looked like it might actually go out. It didn’t quite have the distance, though, so we had to settle for a ground rule double. Peralta flied out to center to end the inning, but we’d added on. 7-0 D-BACKS
The bottom of the second was less good for Alex Young, as he gave up another leadoff single, this time to former Diamondback Wilmer Flores, who lined one to right field. He then walked Brandon Belt on four pitches, and one out and a wild pitch later, left a meatball in the middle of the plate for Giants center fielder Steven Duggar, who deposited it over the big brick wall wall in right. 7-3 D-BACKS
Things quieted down for awhile after that, as both Long and Young settled in and settled down. Long sat the Diamondbacks down in order in both the third and fourth innings, and while Young surrendered a single in both frames, he put up zeroes as well.
The Diamondbacks managed to scratch out an insurance run in the top of the fifth, as Cabrera drew his second walk of the game with one out, followed by a Peralta double off the wall in right that allowed Cabrera to advance to third. Reddick then hit a slow, ugly grounder to the right of the mound that Long managed to field, but his only play was the force at first, so Cabrera was able to score. 8-3 D-BACKS
Per the plan, Corbin Martin took the mound for the bottom of the fifth, and while he wound up putting up another zero, it wasn’t exactly pretty, as he loaded the bases by allowing a two-out single to Mike Yastrzemski followed by two walks, and wound up burning though 31 pitches. The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, made a bit of noise in the bottom of the sixth, with a one-out Rojas single and a two-out Carson Kelly double giving us two more runners in scoring position against Connor Menez, some guy who took over from Long. Walker had cooled off, though, and left them stranded.
Martin, meanwhile, ran out of good fortune in the bottom of the frame, as Brandon Belt led off with a towering fly ball to the warning track in right that Josh Reddick flat out missed. Seemed pretty clear to several of us in the Gameday Thread that that should have been an error, but the official scorer disagreed, so Belt had a leadoff triple. Giants second baseman Donovan Solano then singled to left, plating Belt. Two outs later, some pinch hitter that the Giants slotted into the leadoff spot singled to right, allowing Solano to score. 8-5 D-BACKS
Reddick sort of redeemed himself in the top of the seventh with a two-out double off the wall in right, but again, nothing came of it. Somewhat to my surprise, then, Martin came out for a third inning of work, and retired the Giants cleanly and in order for the first time in the game on three fly balls to Ketel Marte in center.
Former Diamondback Jimmy Sherfy (aka Saul? cf. the GDT) sat us down in the top of the eighth, and Joe Mantiply took the ball for the bottom of the frame. He surrendered a leadoff double to Brandon Belt, once again off the wall in right. Donovan Solano then hit a grounder between third and short that Cabrera got into his glove and then lost. This was probably an error too, but once again the official scorer was feeling generous and forgiving, because it was scored as an infield single. Mantiply then got a fly-out to left and a grounder to Rojas at second that came very, very close—heartbreakingly close, in fact—to being an inning-ending double play. No dice, though. Runners on first and third, two outs.
The Giants sent out another pinch hitter for the leadoff spot, some dude named Curt Casali who entered the game with a .125 batting average, but who was a lefty. So Torey Lovullo decided to play the match-up, for good or ill. He pulled Mantiply, whose fault this situation really was not, and brought in right hander Humberto Castellanos to face this scrub. Castellanos promptly loaded the bases by walking the dude on five pitches, which brought up Yastrzemski.
I distinctly recall remarking at that point to TheRealRamona, who I was watching the game with via Zoom screen sharing, “Great. Now the winning run comes to the plate.” Castellanos, however, got ahead of Yaz Jr., getting him to a 1-2 count. His only job was to get one single out, and it seemed like he was close. Yaz Jr. fouled off a pitch that landed just on the good side of the first base line, which provoked amusing noises of relief from Steve and Bob in the broadcast booth. But then Castellanos threw a changeup down and in, which caught enough of the plate that Yastrzemski was able to turn on it and launch it way up over that big brick wall in right field. 9-8 San Francisco
The top of the ninth was just sad, as the three, four and five hitters, undoubtedly as deflated as we all were, went quietly in order.
Win Probability Added, courtesy of Fangraphs
In keeping (sorta) with Jim’s movie thing, but nevertheless asserting that “Tomb Raider” was a video game, not a movie, and not a video game I ever played, I’m going to go with a game that I have actually played. So.
Fallout: Christian Walker (5 AB, 2 H, 2 R, 3 RBI, +9.7% WPA), Ketel Marte (5 AB, 2 H, 2 R, +9.5% WPA)
Fallout 76: Humberto Castellanos (1/3 IP, 1 BB, 1 HR, -76.9% WPA!!!)
A very well attended Gameday Thread tonight, though I kind of feel bad about that given how it turned out in the end. It would have been nice to have a nice thing and to share it with you all, but I guess that wasn’t gonna happen tonight. Oldenschoole and I led the way tonight with 49 and 39 comments respectively. We had 326 comments from 21 individual commenters, so well done, everyone. We are brave, and have much fortitude, it seems. Perhaps more than our team deserves at the moment. All present and accounted for were: AzDbackfanInDc, DBacksEurope, Dano_in_Tucson, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, EdTheRed99, GuruB, Jack Sommers, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Snake_Bitten, kilnborn, makattack71, since_98, therealramona
We actually had three comments go Sedona Red tonight, and had the outcome of the game been different, I would pick one of those. But, by editorial fiat, I’m giving this one to Oldenschoole, who posted it right after the grand slam as perhaps a transcription of what they were shouting at their TV screen, but it’s simply, sadly true, and so there it is. Bad teams find ways to lose.
If you have the heart to do it, there’s another one of these adventures you can watch tomorrow, as Merrill Kelly faces off against Giants righthander Anthony Desclafini. Just like tonight, first pitch is 6:40 AZ time. Hope you can join us, though I completely understand at this point if that’s less than absolutely appealing. But hey, misery loses company, right?
Anyhow, thanks for reading, as always, and as always, Go D-Backs!