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Diamondbacks 4, Texas 5: A Tale of Three TOOTBLANs*

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Taylor Widener was wild and bad again, too, but it was the poor baserunning that sunk us.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Texas Rangers
This was the first one, but probably not the most costly one.
Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images
  • For those of you who are unfamiliar, TOOTBLAN stands for “Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like a Nincompoop”. You’re welcome.

So you know what they say about how bad teams always find ways to lose? And you know that we’ve been finding new and exciting ways to lose pretty much all season? Well, I think we maybe found a new way tonight versus the lowly Texas Rangers. At least, I don’t think I’ve witnessed this in a baseball game before, except when I was playing little league as a kid.

So Kole Calhoun batted leadoff tonight for us against Texas righty Dane Dunning, and lined the second pitch he saw past Joey Gallo to deep right, and it skipped to the wall. Calhoun was motoring for second, but Gallo played the ball perfectly and fired a strike to second base to throw out Kole. Two pitches, one hit, one out, and a harbinger of things to come. Pavin Smith and Eduardo Escobar saw ten more pitches between them, but both grounded out on the infield.

Taylor Widener took the mound for us, and like he did last Tuesday night against Pittsburgh, he managed to put up a zero, but had to work awfully hard to do so. He threw eight pitches each to the first two batters he faced, and recorded one out and one walk. He then walked Adolis Garcia, the Rangers’ #3 hitter, on five pitches, before striking out Gallo on six pitches and then inducing a fly ball to Calhoun in right on only three pitches. He put himself on a hook, then wriggled off that hook, but it took him 30 pitches to do so.

The middle of the Diamondbacks order, like the top in the first, made things much easier on Dunning in the second, sitting down in order on a Walker fly to right followed by two more groundouts. They only saw ten pitches in the inning. So.

Widener was more efficient in the bottom of the second, inducing grounders two the first two batters he faced. He then gave up a single to shallow left to Texas third baseman Brock Holt. Six pitches later, he struck out the Texas nine-hole hitter to end the inning, but fifteen more pitches had been thrown.

After Andrew Young, your designated hitter for the evening, struck out to begin the bottom of the third, he Diamondbacks notched their first actual baserunner of the game (I don’t think Calhoun’s leadoff hit counts). Nick Ahmed noticed that the Rangers’ infield was playing him deep, and improvised a bunt single to third that he easily beat out. It was a nice bit of hitting, and a nice bit of adaptation by Nick. However, he then got overly aggressive taking a lead off first with Daulton Varsho at the plate, and wound up running into what the official scorers generously termed a “caught stealing” attempt. He took a lead, and then a secondary lead, and then was essentially picked off trying to retreat back to first base.

This was the one, in hindsight, that was definitely the difference in the game, because after Ahmed went back to the dugout, Varsho drew a walk, and then Calhoun came to the plate and hit another rocket, this one into the gap in left center:

Varsho did indeed score from first, giving us the first run of the game, which was nice. But if Ahmed hadn’t TOOTBLANned, he’d have been standing on second, and we’d have put up a two-spot instead of a single run. 1-0 D-BACKS

The bottom of the third began ugly again for Widener, meanwhile, as he hit the leadoff batter, then surrendered a single to center that put runners on first and third with nobody out. Rather remarkably, though, he wriggled off the hook YET AGAIN, inducing infield pop-ups from both Garcia and Gallo. He then surrendered his third walk of the game, loading the bases, but struck out Rangers’ DH David Dahl for the third out. By this point he was at 66 pitches, but still putting up zeros by the skin of his teeth.

The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, wanted to add on a bit in the top of the fourth, both in terms of runs and also in terms of baserunning miscues. Christian Walker dunked a one-out single into shallow right, and Asdrubel Cabrera folllowed that with a double to right that advanced Walker to third. David Peralta then hit a sacrifice fly to right that both Walker and Cabrera tried to tag up on. Walker scored, but Gallo made a strong throw back into the infield, getting Cabrera hung up in a run-down between second and third. Walker crossed the plate before the third out was recorded, so the run counted, but instead of two outs and a runner in scoring position we were the victims of the exceedingly rare “sac fly double play,” as the MLB Gameday described it. 2-0 D-BACKS

Widener came out for the fourth, and started things off with a very long and hard-hit ball to the wall in right off the bat of Texas catcher Jonah Heim. It looked like it was gone, but Kole Calhoun wound up producing your second and only video highlight of the recap:

As heroic as that was, though, it wasn’t nearly enough, as Widener was completely out of gas at this point. He walked Brock Holt and then gave up a double down the left field line that put runners on second and third. He issued his second walk of the inning, loading the bases, before giving up a ground-rule double that Texas first baseman Nathaniel Lowe bounced over the fence in the alley in left center. Thankfully, only two runs would score, but the score was tied. Widener then got Garcia to pop out to shallow right for the second out, and it looked like he might survive the inning. But Joey Gallo came to the plate to face him for the third time in four innings, and third time was the charm, as he deposited a three run bomb over the fence just a little ways right of straightaway center. That earned Widener the hook, with Brett deGeus relieving him and getting a called strike three to end the frame. 5-2 Texas

Weirdly, Widener’s outing wound up being almost a carbon copy of his outing last Tuesday against the Pirates. His final line tonight wound up being 323 IP, 5 H, 5 BB, 1 HR, 5 ER, 87 pitches thrown. It’s nice that he’s back from the IL, but clearly his control hasn’t made the trip back with him yet.

Meanwhile, the Rangers starter was continuing to cruise, despite the two single runs he’d surrendered to this point. Our hitter were not having patient at bats, so that aside from a leadoff single to Andrew Young to start the bottom of the fifth and a leadoff walk to Christan Walker to start the seventh, he put up zeroes, and left the game with one out in the seventh having thrown only 78 pitches.

Our bullpen, meanwhile, did its job and did it well, which was nice to see and which I’m starting to believe might happen on any given night, and deGeus came out and pitched a scoreless fifth, followed by Matt Peacock pitching two scoreless innings after him. So we were keeping the game close, and while I kept finding myself feeling like the game was already out of reach, we were still within three.

Ahmed grounded out to short to start the eighth, but then Varsho drew his second walk of the game. He advanced to second on a weird little fielding flub on a hard-hit Calhoun grounder to first that glanced off the first baseman’s glove and was backed up by the second baseman who managed to throw Calhoun out at first for a rare 3-4-3 putout. Pavin Smith then grounded a single into left center, scoring Varsho. Escobar walked, and Walker singled to right again, scoring Smith and advancing Escobar to third. One pitching change later, Cabrera got the count to 3-1 before hitting a high fly ball to Gallo in right that ended things, but we’d pulled within one. 5-4 Texas

Noe Ramirez came out and pitched a clean bottom of the eighth, which was the first clean inning (no hits, no walks, no extra batters faced) that Diamondbacks pitchers had managed all night. Former Diamondback starter and stalwart Ian Kennedy took the ball for the top of the ninth, as he is now serving as the Texas closer. And he shut us down, on two Ks and then a weak Ahmed pop out to shallow right to end it.

Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs

Going with the “Simpsons” thing from the top of the Gameday Thread, and bearing in mind that while I like Matt Groening, I despise that particular portion of his body of work, here we are:

Life in Hell: Christian Walker (3 AB, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 RBI, +16.8% WPA)
Homer Simpson: Nick Ahmed (1 for 4, 1 run-costing TOOTBLAN, -15.8% WPA)
Bart Simpson: Taylor Widener (pitching line above, -36.6% WPA)

Very lively if not all that terribly baseball-focused Gameday Thread, with 20 participants providing 480 comments. Predictably, DC and Justin led the way with 86 and 62 comments respectively. All present and accounted for were: AzDbackfanInDc, Dano_in_Tucson, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Justin27, Makakilo, MesaDBacksFan, Michael McDermott, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Schilling2001, Smurf-1000, Snake_Bitten, VW Beetle, cnsieler, kilnborn, therealramona

Despite a spirited (and broadly successful) attempt by DC and Guru to try to get all my comments turned Sedona Red so that I wouldn’t be able to use them for CotG purposes (well played, gentlemen, and your co-conspirators, whoever they may be), we actually got a handful of others that turned Sedona Red, which is nice, and thank you all for that. I’m going to give tonight’s to Diamondhacks, who managed a late-breaking bit of brilliance that not only referenced our former top-of-the-rotation starter and current Rangers closer, Ian Patrick Kennedy, but also called back to an earlier point in the thread wherein Justin, Nik, et all, were discussing whether a particular popular Arizona microbrew is in fact an India Pale Ale:

Join us again tomorrow for the final game of this little interleague minseries, if you dare. Madison Bumgarner takes the mound for us, facing off against Rangers righty Jordan Lyles. First pitch is 5:05pm AZ time, just like today.

As always, thanks for reading, and as always, go D-Backs!