Maybe it’s because I’m very tired tonight, and maybe it’s because the ladyfriend and I and the cats listened to the game on the radio because I haven’t yet pulled the trigger on obtaining access to the Bally Sports channel and so things that maybe were exciting when they were happening on video didn’t come across that way on audio only, but nothing tonight stood out for me in an “oh yeah, that’s the key moment in this one, for good or ill” kind of way. We were in it until the end, the game stayed close, and in the end we lost, like we often do these days.
The only thing that struck me, and still strikes me even after the game is over, was the massive differential in starter efficiency. Caleb Smith took the mound for the Diamondbacks, facing off against Cardinals’ righty Carlos Martinez, and both were effective through four, allowing zero runs between them and only allowing four hits (a Josh VanMeter double and a Josh Reddick single for us, and two singles in the third that Smith allowed. By the end of the fourth, Smith had also surrendered three walks and a hit-by-pitch, while Martinez had given up a walk of his own. So we were scoreless through four.
The thing was, the Cardinals’ starter had only needed 51 pitches to get through his four frames, while Caleb Smith had already thrown 81. It’s great, especially for the Diamondbacks these days, to have a starting pitcher throw four scoreless innings to start off a ballgame, but when you’ve put up that pitch count already through four frames, it’s deeply unlikely that you’re gonna pitch more than five. For me, it was beginning to feel kind of ominous, even through it was all zeros to that point.
Smith began his third time through the St. Louis order when he came out for the bottom of the fifth, and surrendered an infield single to start things off. He then had the runner picked off, but threw the ball away, allowing Cards’ right fielder Tommy Edman to advance to third.He then struck out the next two batters he faced, one of them being Goldie, before throwing an elevated fastball to Nolan Arenado that Arenado sent on a ride to left field that just barely cleared the fence. 2-0 St. Louis
The good guys clawed one back in the top of the sixth, as Josh Rojas reached on a leadoff infield single to short. Pavin Smith then hit a slow grounder to third on which Rojas was able to advance into scoring position. Eduardo Escobar then singled down the line in right, scoring Rojas. A Peralta flyout to center and a VanMeter groundout to first left EE stranded, though. 2-1 St. Louis
Matt Peacock relieved Smith in the bottom of the inning, and retired the first two batters he faced on eight pitches before his wheels started to sorta come off. The ABs that followed resulted in a single, and HBP, another single, and a walk and another run scored before he recorded the third out of the inning. 3-1 St. Louis
The Diamondbacks picked up another run in the top of the seventh, thanks to a leadoff double by Christian Walker, who was pinch-hitting for Josh Reddick, against St. Louis reliever Genesis Cabrera. Steven Vogt advanced him to third with an actual deliberate and intended bunt. Nick Ahmed then struck out, but Cabrera then surrendered three straight walks that allowed Walker to score, and our guys to get back within one. 3-2 St. Louis
Noe Ramirez pitched a spotless bottom of the seventh, and Joe Mantiply did the same in the bottom of the eighth, but Diamondbacks hitters proved unable to getting anything started that actually went anywhere. We had runners on first and third with nobody out to start the eighth, for instance, but a strikeout and an inning-ending double play cut that threat short.
Joe Mantiply shut the Cards down in the bottom of the eighth, but the offense was shut down in order for in the top of the ninth, so that was that. A remarkably minor-key performance of the Diamondbacks not being able to get it done.
Win Probability Added, courtesy of Fangraphs
BEAR DOWN: Josh VanMeter (4 AB, 2H, 2B, +13.5% WPA)
Bear Stearns: Nick Ahmed (3 AB, 0 H, 2K, -14.6% WPA)
The Gameday Thread tonight was lovely and remarkably active, given how things have been going for the Diamondbacks lately and given how strangely undramatic this particular contest was (the reason I’ve included no video clips is because, on both the Bally twitter and the team’s official twitter, there are none). 274 comments from 21 individual commenters. Nik and I posted the most, with him just edging me out with 41 to my 40. All present and accounted for were: AzDbackfanInDc, Dano_in_Tucson, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Makakilo, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Rockkstarr12, SenSurround, Smurf-1000, Snake_Bitten, TheOlser4, VW Beetle, Xerostomia, cnsieler, edbigghead, gzimmerm, kilnborn, samath, therealramona
CotG goes to cnsieler for this one, which while not game-specific was something I often think after a game like this but never really say out loud and which I think speaks to what makes the Snakepit such a great online community. Thanks for saying it out loud. You were speaking for a lot of us.
Anyway, if you have some free time tomorrow morning, it’s a Wednesday afternoon getaway game in St. Louis, as Riley Smith takes the mound against Cardinals’ lefty Kwang Hyun Kim. First pitch is at 10:15 AZ time, yikes. Hope you can join us....lessee if we can salvage at least one in this series.
As always, thanks for reading, and as always, go D-Backs!