Official paid attendance numbers per the box score were 9,173, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say there were no more than 4,500 in person at Chase Field. If you’re one of those few, watched it on the tele, listened on the radio, or just followed along on the GDT pat yourself on the back. It takes true dedication to willingly watch two of the worst teams in baseball at the moment. Oh, me? I’m just here because I messed up and couldn’t get Wednesday off work.
Pirates at @Dbacks: What happens when a stoppable force meets a moveable object— Clue Heywood (@ClueHeywood) July 20, 2021
We might just fissure the world in half, Clue.
Home plate umpire Jim Wolf was determined to make this game about himself in the early innings. His strike zone was inconsistent and left much to be desired, and he even seemed to lose track of the count at one point. Caleb Smith was on the mound against Chase De Jong for the Pirates. Smith got the first two outs of the game fairly quickly on nine pitches with a popout and strikeout. However, the umpires both at Chase Field and New York wanted to see three more outs before they were satisfied with the inning. The speedy Bryan Reynolds hit a grounder to third and was initially ruled safe. The D’backs challenged the call as it appeared he was out, but the call stood after review. Then Caleb had to strike out John Nogowski not once but twice to end the inning because Jim Wolfe was not satisfied with the initial strike three at the knees.
Caleb Smith tightroped his way out of a bases loaded jam in the second inning. He struck out Ben Gamel to start it off, but gave up consecutive singles to Jacob Stallings and Wilmer Difo to follow. A walk to Phillip Evans juiced the bases and trouble was-a-brewing. After striking out the opposing pitcher for the second out of the inning, Smith very nearly gave up a grand slam to Kevin Newman. He smoked one just foul of the left field pole. Smith retaliated with an off speed pitch to get him to groundout to shortstop and end the inning.
Arizona jacked a pair of back to back solo home runs in the bottom of the second to take a two run lead. Pavin Smith got the first and was basically all over De Jong in his at bat. He hit one foul into the right field upper deck and yanked another into the net before his home run. Jim Wolf tried to ring him up on strike two before realizing he was lost in the sauce. That would wake Pavin up because he adjusted his timing and was able to deposit the ball into the right field bleachers. Josh VanMeter followed suit with his own blast to the same spot. Arizona got their third consecutive extra base hit with a Bryan Holaday double to the left field corner, but he would eventually be stranded there.
Caleb Smith put the pressure on De Jong, who needed thirty pitches to complete the second, with a brief four pitch top of the third. De Jong didn’t even have enough time to make a pit stop before he was back out on the mound, and he suffered initially because of it. Eduardo Escobar lead off the third with a triple off of the porch in right centerfield just missing a home run. Arizona would be unable to drive him in, and that resulted in some confrontation among Escobar and David Peralta between innings. Walker grounded out to third base for the first out of the inning and was audibly upset with himself. Peralta followed with a liner off of De Jong resulting in a close play at first base. Peralta was initially called safe at first, but that was overturned on a Pirates’ challenge. More important to note was that Escobar stayed put at first depsite the high probability of him being able to score. The ball was lined off of De Jong’s leg, and he had to scramble towards foul territory to make the play. It appeared that Escobar could have scored easily, but he didn’t.
Here is the video, but unfortunately no audio, of part of the exchange between Escobar and Peralta at the conclusion of the inning:
After that play, when the inning ended, the Pittsburgh broadcast caught Eduardo Escobar and David Peralta having some words in the dugout. Bench coach Luis Urueta got between them. The three later headed into the dugout to hash things out for a brief period. pic.twitter.com/izlCcTYbcP— Zach Buchanan (@ZHBuchanan) July 20, 2021
Peralta and Escobar redirected that fire towards their opponent in the fifth inning. Eduardo hit a one out two run home run, and David followed with a triple off the right field wall. You could tell that both men weren’t primarily angry with each other but rather the general frustration of the season. They channeled that anger towards the ball in their remaining at bats. The Bally Sports broadcast failed to mention the argument at all, but it was refreshing to see from two passionate players although it is far too late in the season.
Meanwhile Caleb Smith found his grove and was cruising his way into the seventh inning. He completed the fifth inning on only six pitches and again retired the Pirates in order in the sixth inning. Caleb recorded two outs in the seventh, and was ultimately relieved by Brett De Geus with runners on first and second. De Geus allowed both of those inherited runners to score on singles from Ke’Bryan Hayes and Bryan Reynolds. A walk to Nogowski loaded the bases for pinch hitter, and MLB hits leader, Adam Frazier. Torey Lovullo countered with Joe Mantiply for the lefty-on-lefty matchup and was rewarded with a strikeout to end the inning.
Noe Ramirez pitched a clean eighth inning passing the torch to Joakim Soria for his third save opportunity in as many days. Soria gave up singles to Jared Oliva and Ke’Bryan Hayes around a strikeout of Kevin Newman. Would we get the Soria from Saturday who blew a 2-1 lead or the Soria from Sunday who locked down a save? It would be the latter on a lineout from Reynolds and a strikeout of pinch hitter Gregory Polanco to end the game. That is two recap wins in a row for me. I forgot what this feels like.
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