Unlike many games this year, which have started well (or at least okay), only to go completely to hell in the last few innings, this one was just about entirely the opposite. Caleb Smith, who’s arguably been our best reliever so far in 2021, was released from the bullpen tonight to face off against Mets’ sinkerballer Marcus Stroman. Smith was efficient, effective, and aside from one unfortunate blemish, it could be argued that he outpitched Stroman.
Things didn’t start off so great for Caleb, as he walked leadoff batter Jonathan Villar after a pesky eight pitch AB. However, no harm was done, as Villar promptly TOOTBLANned himself by starting toward second before Smith had actually started his pitching motion toward home plate. Easy pickoff, and Smith then retired the next ten batters he faced, extending to two outs in the fourth inning.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks weren’t effective against Stroman, but they were making him work harder than Caleb was, recording a two-out hit in each of the first four innings. All those baserunners wound up stranded, but still.
Caleb Smith, as mentioned, was cruising into the fourth, having only thrown 38 pitches through 32⁄3 innings. He recorded the first two outs in the top of the fourth on three pitches, but then he gave up his first hit, a Pete Alonso single to left. Then, sadly, he left a slider right smack in the middle of the plate for Mets left fielder Dominic Smith, who promptly deposited it onto the home run porch in right center. 2-0 Mets
He honestly was starting to look a bit shaky, but he took the ball the start the fifth as well, and after surrendering a leadoff ground-rule double to some guy I’d never heard of before, he sat down the bottom of the Mets order on six pitches to complete the inning, It was a good outing: Smith’s final pitching line wound up being 5 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 2 K, and he only needed 58 pitches to do it. Not too shabby, really.
Sadly, in the top of the sixth, a little bit of bad bullpen happened. Joe Mantiply, who in seven appearances so far this year had been very effective, ended that. Villar singled to lead off the inning, and the extraordinarily well-paid Francisco Lindor hit a triple off the right field wall to score him. Mantiply then walked Pete Alonso inadvertantly on four pitches, and Dominic Smith launched another ball deep, this time to right. Josh Reddick made a nice leaping grab at the wall, but it was definitely deep enough to score Lindor. Mantiply then helped himself out with his glove, cleanly fielding a comebacker to the mound to start an inning-ending double play. 4-0 Mets
Our offense, however, was still managing to do nothing much, to the extent I was starting to worry that I’d be recapping my second shutout loss in a row. But in the bottom of the sixth, I was rescued from that fate. Ketel Marte hit a leadoff single to shallow left, and Eduardo Escobar followed with a sharp single to right that was hit hard enough that Marte couldn’t try for third. It didn’t matter, though, because after a David Peralta strikeout, everyone’s new favorite Diamondback (maybe) Pavin Smith did this:
It takes a massive dinger to get to the right field concourse on one hop. Wow. 4-3 Mets
Stroman got pulled after the sixth, so it was gonna be a battle of the bullpens, so I wasn’t optimistic. Mantiply pitched a scoreless seventh, though, and Joakim Soria actually looked really good pitching a scoreless eighth, and while Stefan Chriction did not look particularly good in the ninth, he managed to put up a zero despite surrendering a leadoff walk.
Meanwhile, it looked a lot like the Mets’ bullpen was going to do the same to us. Jeurys Familia put up a zero in the bottom of the seventh, despite some traffic, Aaron Loup sat us down in order in the bottom of the eighth, and then the mildly terrifying flamethrower Edwin Diaz came on to close it out in the bottom of the ninth. Steven Vogt struck out, then Nick Ahmed hit a sharp single to right and advanced to second when the right fielder failed to pick up the ball effectively. Our last remaining bench player, Domingo Leyba, came to the plate, and his ongoing parade of futility continued as he grounded out to Alonso at first. This at least had the virtue of allowing Ahmed to advance to third. Still, two outs, bottom of the ninth, we know how this usually ends. But this time, thanks to Josh Rojas, it didn’t:
Ketel Marte then hit his third single of the game, but Escobar flied out to center to send us to extras. 4-4 TIE
Andrew Young took the mound for the top of the tenth, with the obligatory runner on second, and immediately gave up a double to right off the bat of Mets pinch hitter James McCann. He sat the Mets down in order after that, but still. 5-4 Mets
Escobar was placed on second for the bottom of the tenth, but was unable to advance on Carson Kelly’s leadoff grounder to third. Yeah, Carson Kelly was in the game now, for whatever reason, and Steven Vogt was playing first base, and Pavin Smith was in left field. Not that it matters, really. Silly substitution stuff. Pavin Smith then drew a tough walk to give us runners on first and second. Josh Reddick came to the plate, and did this to the first pitch he saw:
The Mets challenged whether it was a fair ball, but the call on the field was not overturned. 6-5 D-BACKS
Win Probability Added, courtesy of Fangraphs
In honor of “Finding Nemo”:
Steamed King Crab Legs: Josh Reddick (5 AB, 2 H, 2 RBI, +60.5% WPA!!!)
Beer Battered Cod: Josh Rojas (5 AB, 1 H, 1 RBI, +27.3% WPA), Nick Ahmed (4 AB, 1 H, 1 R, +23.6% WPA)
Mudfish Tartare: Eduardo Escobar (5 AB, 2 H, 2 R, -34.4% WPA)
We had a very nicely attended Gameday Thread tonight, with 25 commenters supplying 331 posts. DC and Justin led the way with 54 and 45 comments respectively. All present and accounted for were: AzDbackfanInDc, DBacksEurope, Dano_in_Tucson, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, Justin27, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MikeMono, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Preston Salisbury, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, TheGoldenSombrero, TheOlser4, chronicles_of_the_desert, kilnborn, since_98, therealramona
Comment of the Game goes to kilnborn, with an assist from DBA. It’s the only one that turned Sedona Red, and it occurred after the game ended, but that’s perfectly fine, as it is both
a pun good wordplay and an acknowledgement of how very good it feels to be starting a new month:
So join us tomorrow for the rubber match, as Madison Bumgarner takes the mound against Mets lefty and another guy I’ve never heard of, David Peterson. It’s a getaway day game for the Mets, so first pitch is at 12:40pm. Also, it’s going to be streaming for free on YouTube, which means the announcers will be uniquely terrible, but still. Hope you can join us!
As always, thanks for reading, and as always, go D-Backs!