Record: 21-55. Pace: 45-117. Change on 2004: -6.
We continue Mix-up Week here at the SnakePit. Keegan is attending the game at Chase Field this afternoon - he must have done something bad in a previous life. With Dano heading to Mississippi (or was it from Mississippi?), it brings me back into the rotation for a bonus recap this week. I don’t mind day games, truth be told, even though I am currently at work. My double monitor set-up means that I can do my work on one screen, while the game is playing on the other. The evolutionary process of the last four billion years, which saw blobs of protoplasm eventually end up turning into creatures with two eyes, was clearly working towards this end.
In what’s probably something you don’t often see in late June games at Chase Field, it was significantly warmer inside Chase Field than out at first pitch. The recent storms and rain in the valley, had dropped the temperature almost forty degrees from yesterday’s high of 109 F. The temperature outside reported on the broadcast was only 70 degrees, compared to 75 inside the park, though at SnakePit Towers, it did say 82 F. However, the cool temperatures seem to have had a chilling effect on the Diamondbacks bats. They were held hitless with runners in scoring position, and two runs charged to reliever Noé Ramirez proved crucial as Arizona dropped the finale, and with it the series.
Early on, both pitchers were very much on their game. The Diamondbacks were unable to manage a base-runner the first time through the order. Brandon Woodruff’s stuff proved just as difficult as it had been in Milwaukee earlier this month, when he struck out nine over five innings. Fortunately, Caleb Smith was using his, considerably lower velocity, arsenal almost as effectively, allowing one infield single through four. He did strand two runners in the third and then put the first two men aboard in the fourth inning with an infield single and a walk. But Smith escaped damage on both occasion, using a trio of fly balls to get out of the jam in the fourth, and keep the game scoreless.
Arizona got their first base-runners in the bottom of the inning. Josh Rojas led off with a 100.7 mph liner, which the Brewers’ infield could only knock down, and the lead-off man was aboard. One out later, after Pavin Smith flew out on the first pitch, Josh VanMeter drew a walk. David Peralta popped out, and Asdrubal Cabnera came back after falling behind 0-2, to get a well-earned base on balls and load up the bags. However, Christian Walker could only bounce out to the left of the infield, and the D-backs were turned away. That left the team riding an active 0-for-11 streak with runners in scoring position, since Rojas’s fourth inning double in the series opener on Monday.
This was ruled an error on Josh Rojas for impeding the runner. Jace Pederson was awarded third, and he scored on a single to break a 0-0 tie. pic.twitter.com/oQLqT4szD5— Zach Buchanan (@ZHBuchanan) June 23, 2021
The Brewers did not waste their chance in the fifth, though it was more notable for awful D-backs defense. A lead-off double was followed by an attempted pick-off. However, the throw was wild, and Rojas wrapped his arms around the runner to stop him advancing (above). An interference error was called on Josh, moving the runner up. Woodruff then singled home the go-ahead run for Milwaukee. One out later, Christian Walker couldn’t field a squib shot, which spun off his glove for another E. The D-backs were then very lucky it wasn’t three errors in the inning. Smith coaxed a pop-up, which VanMeter misjudged and missed. Fortunately, the umpire had called for an infield fly, resulting in the second out.
Both base-runners advanced on the play. After an intentional walk to load the bases, Smith was able to get a ground-out and escape the inning just 1-0 down. But that was probably the ugliest inning of Diamondback’ fielding I’ve seen in several seasons. David Peralta was seen delivering some animated, apparently irritated words to his team-mates in the dugout, and I can’t say I blame him in the slightest. The bottom third of the order went down 1-2-3, Smith batting for himself, despite being at 88 pitches through five. His last two starts had seen him throw 91 and 103, and there was action in the bullpen as he started the sixth. It proved not to be needed.
Smith walked the first batter, and one out later allowed an infield hit, on a tough play for VanMeter. After a failed sacrifice attempt by Woodruff, a fly out got him through the sixth, and his day was done. He scattered four hits, four walks and a hit batter, but struck out six over six innings, and allowed one run. Rojas got his second - and, indeed, the D-backs’ second - hit of the game with a single. But just as with his first hit, Pavin Smith followed by flying out on the first pitch he saw. His four PAs this afternoon involved a total of eight pitches - not exactly what I praised about him earlier in the season. Two more K’s followed, making eight through six innings by Arizona hitters.
Noé Ramirez took over for Smith in the seventh, and it did not go well. An infield hit and two more singles gave the Brewers their second run, without Ramirez recording an out. He got a fly out, and Joe Mantiply took over from Noé. But another fly ball brought a third run across for Milwaukee. The D-backs did get on the board in their half, as Christian “Sky” Walker - they had just talked up his bobblehead! - launched a moon-shot that just cleared the fence in left-field (above). That ended a streak of six consecutive games for Arizona without a homer, the longest by the team since going seven straight in September 2014. Ryan Buchter worked around a lead-off walk, to post a zero in the top of the eighth.
Eduardo Escobar had been benched the last couple of days to clear up a niggling injury. If you’ve been reading the previews (which, of course you have... I said, “OF COURSE YOU HAVE”), you’ll know he wasn’t exactly happy about it. He demonstrated that in spades, coming off the bench to lead off the eighth, and clobbering the first pitch for a 441 ft home-run (below). One out later, P. Smith dropped a bloop into shallow center, and was pinch-run for by Nick Heath. Unfortunately, he was thrown out trying to steal second: Arizona’s success rate there is now down below 70%, at 18-8. The very next pitch was a wild one, and VanMeter ended up walking. So you wonder what might have been...
Joakim Soria worked a 1-2-3 ninth, giving Arizona one last hurrah, against the fearsome Josh Hader. He came in a perfect 18-for-18 in save opportunities, with a 0.61 ERA and 50 strikeouts in only 29.2 innings. Cabrera took a 97 mph heater on the outside black of the zone; Walker couldn’t hold up on an 83 mph slider; and pinch-hitter Tim Locastro did at least put the ball in play, but popped out. The loss dropped them to 2-17 in one-run games, and Taco Hell also continues. They have lost 39 consecutive games in which they have scored fewer than five runs, tying the team with the mark set exactly a century ago, by the 1921 Philadelphia Phillies.
Torey Lovullo and Caleb Smith post-game audio [or link]
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Vincent Vega: Caleb Smith, +18.2%
Jules Winfield: Eduardo Escobar, +14.2%;
Bring out the Gimp: David Peralta, -18.7%
Marvin: Ramirez, -17.0%; Heath, -11.6%
Unsurprisingly, for a day-game during the week, a quiet GDT, but it still ended up a little shy of 200 comments. Present were: AzDbackfanInDc, DBacksEurope, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, Makakilo, NikT77, Rockkstarr12, Smurf-1000, Snake_Bitten, Xerostomia, kilnborn and since_98. Comment of the Thread to Smurf-1000, demonstrating the correct use of the sarcasm font.
The team has an off-day tomorrow, before beginning a three-game series in San Diego, where they’ll try to end that lengthy road losing streak. Corbin Martin gets first crack at that one, on Friday night.