Baseball is weird. Baseball is weird, and sometimes, if you wait long enough, nice things happen. So it was tonight, and that was good, because it feels like we’ve been waiting a very long time for something to go right for the Diamondbacks.
This one started out very nicely for us, in both halves of the first inning. Merrill Kelly took the mound against the Rockies, and set them down in order on nine pitches, which was brilliant and, these days, very rare. Even when our starters wind up pitching okay, it seems like the first frame is never quick or easy. This one was.
It got even better, too, as Josh Rojas sent the first pitch he saw from Rockies’ starter Jon Gray deep into the right-center gap for a leadoff double. David Peralta then golfed one to shallow right that Colorado left fielder Raimel
Tilapia Tapia kinda misplayed, but which scored Rojas and allowed the Freight Train to reach second. This too was scored a double. Eduardo Escobar came to the plate and rocketed a liner to just about the same spot that Rojas had done, for the third consecutive double to start the game. Peralta scored. Christian Walker, batting cleanup, followed with a sharp liner into the left-center gap that rolled to the wall, scoring Escobar and making Diamondbacks history. It was the first time in franchise history that the team had started a game with back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back doubles. Woo hoo us. One mound visit later, Gray seemed to recover (or obtain) his composure, and he sat Pavin Smith, Josh VanMeter and Steven Vogt in order. But still, it’s always nice to put up a crooked number in the first inning. Here is the montage:
Sadly, the bats got very quiet after that for a long stretch, while Colorado slowly began to chip away at our lead. Kelly was solid through three, surrendering a one-out double in the second but retiring the Rockies in order in the third, having faced only one batter over the minimum by that point. Meanwhile, Gray had found his mojo after the rough first inning, retiring the good guys in both the second and the third.;
Kelly retired the first two batters he faced in the top of the fourth, but then surrendered a single to shallow right to bearded sportsman Charlie Blackmon, followed by a Brendan Rogers double to deep right that just missed going over the fence that scored Blackmon easily. An easy Ryan McMahon flyout to Peralta in left ended the frame, but our lead had narrowed. 3-1 D-BACKS
Josh VanMeter singled up the middle with one out in the bottom of the fourth, and a Stephen Vogt single to right put runners on first and second, but nothing came of it.
Kelly surrendered a leadoff single to left to Rockies’ first baseman C.J. Cron to open the fifth, but recorded a groundout to first that advanced Cron to 2nd and a swinging K to Jon Gray, so it looked like further damage might be avoided. Sadly, Tapia stroked a single to shallow left that Peralta kinda bobbled, which allowed Cron to score without a throw. Yuck. 3-2 D-BACKS
Our offense, meanwhile, continued to do a whole lot of nothing. Peralta drew a one-out walk off Gray in the bottom of the fifth, but was stranded, and we sat down in order in the bottom of the sixth. Merrill Kelly, meanwhile, was only at 72 pitches when he came out for the sixth, but 19 pitches later, he’d only recorded one out, and there were runners on first and third, so Torey Lovullo gave him the hook. It was absolutely the right move, as it turned out, as lefty Joe Mantiply came on in relief and ended the threat with only three pitches thrown. So that was cool.
The top of the seventh wasn’t so good for Joe, though, as he walked the first batter he faced on four pitches, and then surrendered a single to left. A successful sacrifice bunt advanced both runners, and J.B. Bukauskas came on to replace Mantiply. Escobar then fielded a tough grounder to third and made a spectacular off-balance through to Christian Walker at first. The play was initially ruled an infield hit, but Torey challenged and the play was overturned on review. Sadly, though, that was only the second out, and the tying run did cross the plate. 3-3 TIE
Former Diamondback Jhoulys Chacin took the mound for the Rockies in the bottom of the seventh, and walked Rojas and Peralta with two outs to put the go-ahead run in scoring position, and Escobar hit a had line drive to drive, but it wasn’t deep enough to be any more than a loud out.
Noe Ramirez pitched a nice, clean, scoreless top of the eighth, but so did Rockies flamethrower Carlos Estavez in the bottom of the eight. Joakim Soria, our “closer”, took the mound for the ninth, and much to my surprise (and to the surprise of others as well, I expect) retired the Rockies in order. Then the bottom of the ninth happened.
Daniel Bard took the mound, and Stephen Vogt led off with a single to center. Bard then walked Dalton Varsho. Nick Ahmed, who had come in as part of a double swap somewhere and who was batting 9th, lined out to center, advancing no one. Rojas walked to load the bases, and David Peralta, who was at this point 1 for 2 with 2 walks, stepped into the batter’s box. Peralta took the first pitch for a called strike. The second pitch, an 86.7mph slider, sailed a bit on Bard and struck David just above his left knee:
A WALK-OFF HBP!!!— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) July 7, 2021
Don't see that one every day pic.twitter.com/gh6VQnxeDP
I think that might be your 2021 Diamondbacks in a nutshell, right there. Still, the Freight Train seemed to shake it off pretty quickly, and, well, we won the game, albeit in a bizarre and mildly stupid fashion. 4-3 D-BACKS
Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs
Jim West: David Peralta (2 AB, 1 2B, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 2 RBI, +30.2% WPA)
Artemus Gordon: Josh Rojas (3 AB, 1 2B, 2 BB, +17.8% WPA), Joakim Soria (1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K, W, +13.8% WPA)
That 1999 Film Adaptation Atrocity: Nick Ahmed (2 AB, 0 H, -13.6% WPA)
Tonight’s was a decently attended Gameday Thread, with 20 participants offering up 243 individual pearls of baseball wisdom and insight. It was kind of a weird one, as things were very quiet from the second inning until the very end, when it started to get tense but by which point a lot of people had already checked out and called it a night. I led the the way with 36 comments (because I take my job seriously and stay until the often bitter but sometimes kinda sweet end on recap nights), with Guru and Nik tied for second place with 25 comments apiece. All present and accounted for were: Dano_in_Tucson, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Preston Salisbury, Rockkstarr12, Snacks&Dbacks, Snake_Bitten, VW Beetle, cnsieler, kilnborn, samath, therealramona
Two comments turned Sedona Red tonight, and both of them were a bit context-specific, but I think I’m going to go with kilnborn’s, as the context there is easier to explain. The four doubles to start the inning were historic, but as the game was beginning to look like it was gonna slip away as time went on, he kept mentioning the historic nature of those doubles after every commercial break. Coming back for the bottom of the ninth, there was this little sequence late in the GDT:
I wholeheartedly agree, and so there it is.
So here’s a fun thing. As we continue to scrounge around for folks who might plausibly serve as starting pitchers, we are giving the ball tomorrow tonight to Humberto Castellanos, who will square off against Colorado righty Antonio Senzatela. First pitch is 6:40pm, same time as tonight. Hope you can join us, as this could be the rubber game for our first series win since the cusp of April and May.
As always, thanks for reading, and as always, go D-Backs!