Well, I’m happy to report that even this late into a loss-heavy season, the Diamondbacks’ innate talent for innovation still produces new ways for us to cough up a game. In a way, it’s becoming truly wondrous to behold. Or if you prefer, despite how bad this ballclub is in many respects, they still manage to put up a hard fight not infrequently, and give even the best team in the Major Leagues a run for its money.
So Zac Gallen took the mound tonight, facing off against Alex Wood, who we did quite well against last Thursday, when we hung four runs on him and chased him after four innings. It didn’t go quite that way tonight, especially early, as Wood retired the Diamondbacks in order, top to bottom, facing the minimum through the first three innings.
Zac Gallen, meanwhile, had a disappointingly terrible bottom half of the first inning after retiring the first batter he faced on one pitch. Brandon Belt then doubled to right, Buster Posey walked, Brandon Crawford popped out to shallow left, and then Gallen surrendered back-to-back doubles to Kris Bryant and Mike Yastrzemski, followed by a single to Alex Dickerson. Finally he got the third out thanks to a groundout to Christian Walker from Tommy LaStella, the eighth batter to come to the plate, but we were already in a deep hole. 4-0 San Francisco
Gallen seemed to settle down, retiring the Giants in order in the second, and he pitched around a leadoff single in the third and a two-out single as well to put up a second zero, but our offense was doing nothing against Wood. Our first sign of life was a one-out Ketel Marte double to the wall in right center in the top of the fourth. Kole Calhoun grounded out to third, with Marte advancing to third on the play, but then Carson Kelly flew out to right for the third out. But hey, at least we’d broken Wood’s early perfect game bid.
Gallen, meanwhile, retired the Giants in order again in the bottom of the fourth, so that was nice.
Less nice was the Diamondbacks sitting down in order in the top of the fifth. And less nice than that was Gallen in the bottom of the fifth surrendering a one-out dinger to Buster Posey that notched the Giants another run. Honestly, though, it wasn’t a bad pitch—an 87 mph changeup inside and below the strike zone that Posey just went down, and got, and launched. It was a good bit of hitting on a pretty decent pitch, and that’s pretty much all you can say about it. 5-0 San Francisco
In the top of the sixth, however, the good guys actually showed some life. After twenty-one straight innings without scoring a run, some good stuff happened. Josh Rojas, back from his rehab stint in Reno and starting at second today, lined out to center to lead off the inning, bringing up Gallen himself, who seemed to want to make up a bit for the five runs he had allowed. He swung at the first pitch he saw from Alex Wood, who’d been cruising up to this point, and doubled into the gap in left center. Nick Ahmed followed Zac’s lead, and hit the first pitch he saw for a double to the exact same spot, scoring Gallen. Ketel Marte then doubled to right on the first pitch he saw from Wood, scoring Ahmed. Calhoun then grounded out to second, but Marte advanced to third on the play. Carson Kelly then tripled to the right-center gap, scoring Marte, and then Asdrubel Cabrera launched one to just left of straightway center that made it over the fence. Score tied, as easy as that.
Sadly, Bally Sports didn’t bother sharing clips of each of those extra-base hits, but the Diamondbacks twitter feed compiled them, so here it is:
Pavin Smith, in left tonight, couldn’t keep the party going, but at least it was a ballgame again. 5-5 TIE
Gallen came out to pitch the bottom of the sixth, and for the third of six innings, sat the Giants down in order, so it wound up being a pretty good outing for him, if you ignore the unsightly first inning. Alas, former Diamondback Dominic Leone came out of the Giants bullpen to pitch the top of the seventh, and sat the bottom of the Diamondbacks order down as well. But then Taylor Clarke took the ball for the bottom the frame, and retired all three batters he faced, so it was all good.
Giants submariner Tyler Rogers pitched the top of the eighth for San Francisco, and despite surrendering leadoff singles to Ahmed and Marte, we couldn’t get a run across. In part this was due to Ahmed trying to go first-to-third on the Marte single, only to get called out at third on a very close play after Yastrzemski made a very good throw from center to third. The replay that we saw on TV seemed to show that Ahmed beat the throw, but Torey Lovullo elected not to challenge, and the play stood. This caused much snarling and gnashing of teeth in the Gameday Thread, and rightly so—the broad consensus was that Torey should have challenged, because we didn’t really have anything to lose at that point, as James rightly noted in one of the Sedona Red comments, and Nick kinda looked safe. Calhoun flew out to shallow left, and Kelly struck out looking to strand Marte.
Taylor Clarke came out again for the bottom of the eighth, but it didn’t go so well, as he walked Posey to start the inning. That was the end for him, as Joe Mantiply came on to replace him. Mantiply was not particularly effective: he immediately surrendered a Brandon Crawford double to the gap in left center that scored Posey, followed by an intentional walk to Kris Bryant. Yastrzemski grounded to Ahmed, who was playing pretty much on the second base bag, but Nick couldn’t really find the handle on it, so rather than a double play it wound up being a force out at second, with Crawford advancing to third. Sean Poppen came on to relieve Mantiply, and for whatever reason he was very concerned that Yastrzemski might steal second, so he threw a pickoff to first that sailed wide, allowing Crawford to stroll on home and allowing Yastrzemski to reach third base. That was costly error #1. He did then manage to get Alex Dickerson to ground out to Rojas, who looked Yastrzemski back to third before throwing to first. Another intentional walk was issued to LaStella, bringing up the pitcher’s spot and pinch hitter Darin Ruf. Ruf grounded to Rojas at second for the third out of the inning, but damage had been done. 7-5 San Francisco
Rather remarkably, the Diamondbacks came to the plate in the top of the ninth and showed they still had some fight left in them. Facing San Francisco’s lefty closer Jake McGee, Asdrubel Cabrera singled up the middle to lead off, and then Pavin Smith singled up the middle to put the tying runs on board with nobody out. Christian Walker then came to the plate and put up what was frankly the AB of the night, fouling off a lot of tough pitches and ultimately earning a ten-pitch walk to load the bases. Rojas then struck out looking on three pitches, which was just ugly and pathetic to see, and Josh VanMeter came out to pinch hit. He managed to draw a walk that scored Cabrera. Ahmed then hit a fly ball to shallow right, and Daulton Varsho, who was pinch running for Smith, tagged and beat the throw in from the outfield to tie the game up again. That chased McGee, and some other competent bullpen arm came out and took the ball (h/t UnleashTheGore, over on the McCovey Chronicles site, for reminding me of that). Sadly, that dude was effective, though, so we couldn’t take a lead as Marte struck out swinging. But at least we were still alive. 7-7 TIE
Matt Peacock got the ball for the bottom of the ninth to face the top of the San Francisco order, and his stuff was looking pretty good. He got LaMonte Wade to ground sharply to Walker at first, but the ball skipped between Walker’s legs and out into shallow right. It was initially scored a hit, but then rightly revised to be an error on Walker. That was costly error #2. Brandon Belt then hit a hard grounder to Walker, and while it seemed like it had double-play ball potential, Walker handled it awkwardly, and only managed the force at first. It seemed like maybe he tweaked something on the play, too, as the trainers came out to check on him. Peacock then walked Posey, and got Crawford to ground back to the mound for the second out. Wade advanced to third, but Peacock was nearly out of it. Kris Bryant hit yet another hard grounder to Walker, who was the only one on the right side of the infield thanks to an overshift, and he once again failed to field it cleanly. He then threw wide to Peacock, who was covering the bag, for costly error #3. Crawford scored from third, on the walk-off error. And there you are. Innovation at work. 8-7 San Francisco
Win Probability Added, Courtesy of Fangraphs
Jaws: Asdrubel Cabrera (4 AB, 2 H, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR, +30.1% WPA)
Jaws 2: Josh Van Meter (0 AB, 1 RBI, 1 BB, +18.0% WPA)
The Meg: Matt Peacock (2⁄3 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 0 ER L, -36.8% WPA), Joe Mantiply (1⁄3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 ER, -24.6% WPA), Zac Gallen (6 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 7K, -20.9% WPA)
Seriously, people, WPA is a weird calculation, and sometimes a game just totally breaks it. This was one of those games, I think. That -36.8% WPA that Peacock is sporting really belongs to Walker for those two ninth inning errors. Just sayin’.
It wound up being a fairly busy Gameday Thread, with 19 participants contributing 290 comments at the time when I am typing this sentence. I actually led the way with 51, followed by DC with 37. Of course, DC checked out in like the fifth inning, so he would have had the comments lead hands down, like always, had he stuck around. All present and accounted for were: AzDbackfanInDc, Dano_in_Tucson, GuruB, Jack Sommers, James Attwood, Justin27, Makakilo, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Smurf-1000, Snacks&Dbacks, Snake_Bitten, TAP, VW Beetle, gzimmerm, kilnborn, piratedan7, since_98, therealramona
We had a couple that went Sedona Red tonight, but I think I’m giving this one to Jack, because who doesn’t love a Casablanca reference, especially at the end of a sad-but-somehow-inevitable sad story?
Join us tomorrow night, if you can bear it, to watch Merrill Kelly face off against righthander Kevin Gausman in a battle of our teams’ respective aces. Just like tonight, first pitch is at 6:45 AZ time. Hope to see you there, because remember, misery loves company. Also, it’s generally a pleasure to see Kelly pitch, however it turns out. So there’s that, too.
Anyway. As always, thanks for reading, and as always, go Diamondbacks!