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Diamondbacks 2, Oakland 5: A Tale of One Inning

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was some insufficiently better times....

Arizona Diamondbacks v Oakland Athletics
Sadness the second time through the order.
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

If I told you we had a lead (!!!) going into the bottom of the fourth inning, you might feel pretty good about that. If I told you that Diamondbacks starter Jon Duplantier had a no-hitter going through three innings, with one walk being the only blemish, you might feel pretty good about that, especially as Dup only needed to throw 48 pitches to get there. If I told you that Diamondbacks pitching threw seven scoreless innings against the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics, including four innings by the bullpen wherein we only surrendered two lowly singles, you might feel pretty good about that. If I told you our offense provided the lone extra-base hit of the game, while the Diamondbacks limited Oakland to nothing but singles, you might feel pretty good about that.

Here’s the funny thing about this game: everything I just wrote is a true statement. And yet.

I didn’t really realize how strange this game was, in many respects, until I was looking at my scorecard. Dup got through the first three with four strikeouts and five groundball outs, with only a one-out walk in the second to A’s catcher Sean Murphy as a mark against him. Meanwhile, while the top of the order went quickly and quietly in our half of the first and the third innings, Christian Walker led off the top of the second with a bomb to left, like so:

Pavin Smith, playing left field tonight, then singled to right, and advanced to second when designated hitter David Peralta drew a five-pitch walk off A’s starter Chris Bassit. After Josh Reddick flew out to center and Vogt, playing catcher this evening, flew out to left, a Bassit wild pitch to tonight’s second baseman, Ildemaro Vargas, allowed Smith and Peralta to each advance into scoring position. Sadly, Vargas popped up to short, meaning that the clip above will be your only video highlight from this game. Sorry. 1-0 D-Backs

As noted above, Duplantier was effective for us through three. The wheels, however, came completely off the bus as soon as the fourth inning began. Dup allowed the first three A’s batters to reach on a single, a walk, and then another single. He then walked Sean Murphy for the second time, which walked in the first A’s run and earned him the hook from Torey Lovullo, who sent in our lone long reliever left in the bullpen, Alex Young. There were still no outs, and the bases were still loaded. Young immediately surrendered two more singles, shallow enough that only two more runs scored. Young struck out some guy named Tony Kemp who hits 8th for the A’s for the first out, and then walked in another run by walking Elvis Andrus, who is apparently playing for Oakland now. Who knew?

The bases were still loaded as we arrived at the ninth batter of the inning, A’s leadoff hitter Mark Canha. Canha hit a slowish grounder to Eduardo Escobar at third, and we were almost able to escape further damage with a possible double play ball, but Canha just beat the throw to first. He’s a center fielder. He’s fast. What can you do? A’s third baseman Mark Chapman, who was the runner on third, scored, though. Young then surrendered his second walk of the inning, but thankfully second base was now open. Finally, 40 minutes or so after the bottom of the fourth had started, Young finally struck out A’s first baseman Matt Olson to end it. But lots of damage had been done. 5-1 Oakland

Bassit sat the Diamondbacks down in order in both the fifth and sixth innings, and Alex Young did almost as well in his second and third innings of work, pitching around a lone two-out single. The good guys made a bit more trouble in the top of the seventh, as Walker led off with a single to right, and advanced to third one out later on a David Peralta single to deep center. Josh Reddick brought him home with a sacrifice fly to right, but then Steven Vogt lined out to first to end things. 5-2 Oakland

Ryan Buchter pitched a stellar bottom of the seventh for us, retiring Oakland in order despite a deeply scary Jed Lowrie comebacker that hit him in the left arm and caromed to Vargas at second. Vargas was able to field the ball cleanly and throw to first just in time to beat Lowrie. Trainers came out, but Buchter waved them off and sat down the next two batters with no apparent discomfort. That dude is tough.

Our offense was pretty much done, though. They went down in order on a truly embarrassing six pitches from A’s reliever Yusmero Petit in the top of the eighth, and after Kevin Ginkel pitched a scoreless bottom of the inning, we squandered a two-out single from Pavin Smith, and that was that.

Win Probability Added, courtesy of Fangraphs

The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man: Christian Walker (4 AB, 2 H, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 HR, +10.2% WPA)
Rick Moranis: Jon Duplantier (3 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 4 R, 4 ER, -18.0% WPA), Alex Young (3 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 1 R, 1 ER, -13.9% WPA)

The Gameday Thread was remarkably lively and well-attended, especially given what a joy the Diamondbacks have been to watch lately and how excruciating that fourth inning was. There were also some moments of unfortunate ugliness, but we did our best to make our own fun, and I feel like overall we did a pretty good job of that. We had 383 comments from 23 commenters. DC and Justin once again led the way, with 114 and 45 respectively. All present and accounted for were: AzDbackfanInDc, Dano_in_Tucson, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, Dschumac, GuruB, Jack Sommers, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, Justin27, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Snake_Bitten, Tom Babbage, Xerostomia, abombsandoval, azdbacksfan1, gzimmerm, kilnborn, therealramona

Comment of the game goes by popular acclaim to Nik, for his response to a long Xerostomia post reporting on the methods underpinning the Rays’ success at, well, winning, despite being a very small-market team:

The rubber match of this Oakland mini-series commences tomorrow, as Matt Peacock faces off against A’s lefty Sean Manaea. First pitch is at 12:37pm, AZ time. Join us if you dare.

As always, thanks for reading. As always, go D-Backs!