47 games remain after tonight’s contest, and the Arizona Diamondbacks slog ever closer to the #1 overall draft pick (barring any format changes). Their chances of avoiding a loss were somewhat decent with Merrill Kelly on the mound. As solid as he has been this season, he did not have his best with him in San Francisco against Kevin Gausman.
Gausman wasn’t quite as controlled as he was last Wednesday against the D’backs at Chase field, but he still held them to only two runs over five innings. The key difference this week is that he had four walks as opposed to none in his previous start. However, out of the gate tonight his control problems were nowhere to be found. His first inning went good morning, good afternoon, and goodnight striking out Josh VanMeter, Ketel Marte, and Asdrubal Cabrera in order.
Meanwhile San Francisco’s offense got him out to a quick lead and kept adding to it by scoring in each of the first four innings. Kelly required 31 pitches to get through the bottom of the first which put him in a hole for the rest of his outing. LaMonte Wade Jr. began the first with a single to center field. Kris Bryant followed with an easy popup to first base, but the winds were-a-swirlin’ which allowed the ball to drop behind Pavin Smith. Wade had to hold close to first base not knowing if Smith would make the catch or not, so Pavin was able to recover and throw to second quickly for the first out. Merrill notched the second out by striking out Brandon Belt. A single from Buster Posey and double from Brandon Crawford brought in Bryant for San Francisco’s first run.
Injury disaster struck Arizona and Kole Calhoun again in the second inning. He drew a leadoff walk to get on base. Pavin laced a double down the left field line. Immediately I knew that Calhoun was going to get on his horse to find a way to get to third base, and I could not help but cringe before he rounded second base. Knowing how hard he runs I feared the potential that he would re-injure either his knee or hamstring, both of which he has had surgery on this season. Once he got between second and third base he began to hobble, slid into third safely, and pounded his fist on the bag in pain and frustration while still on the ground. He walked off of the field under his own power, but it is yet another left hamstring injury as the team would later confirm. We will know more in the coming days on the severity, but we may have potentially seen his last game in a Diamondbacks uniform.
Drew Ellis was the pinch runner for Calhoun at third base. David Peralta brought him in with a ground out that also advanced Pavin to third to tie the game. Daulton Varsho very nearly drove Pavin in with a low liner to left field, but Darin Ruf made a sliding grab to make the out. Pavin probably should have been tagging and scoring, but he was caught between and had to scramble back to third. Gausman intentionally walked Nick Ahmed so he could quickly strike out Merrill Kelly to end the second.
The Giants continued their assault against Kelly in the bottom of the second with the first three batters reaching via a walk, double, and single giving them a 2-to-1 lead. Wade Jr. helped Kelly out by grounding into a double play setting up a Kris Bryant strikeout to end the frame. Buster Posey added to the Giants’ lead in the third with a solo home run to right field. That would be the first of four San Francisco home runs on the night.
The fourth inning was the beginning of a pair of frames where Arizona had an opportunity to put a hurting on Gausman and take control of the game but failed to capitalize on his struggles. Drew Ellis walked to begin the fourth. Pavin reached on a fielder’s choice with Ellis out at second. Peralta hit one through Belt’s legs at first reaching on an error. Varsho loaded the bases on a single to center field. Nick Ahmed drew a bases loaded walk to bring Arizona within one with Gausman struggling to find his location. Inexplicably, Merrill Kelly was swinging the bat and grounded into a double play to end the scoring threat. As Jim said in the GDT, sometimes strikeouts are not the worst possible outcome.
LaMonte Wade Jr. hit a two run home run that clanked off of Ketel’s glove as he made a leaping catch attempt at the centerfield wall. It was a catch that any regular centerfielder likely would have made. That is not a dig at Marte, but rather further evidence that the team really needs to stop playing him in the outfield. His face confirmed that he felt he should have made the catch too.
With the score now 5-to-2 in favor of the Giants, Arizona squandered another chance to stay in the game in the fifth. VanMeter and Marte kicked it off with consecutive singles against Gausman. Asdrubal Cabrera advanced both with a groundout, but Ellis struck out and Pavin flew out to center to end the inning without a run.
Brandon Crawford and Alex Dickerson added solo home runs in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, resulting in the final score of 7-to-2.
Arizona needs 16 wins over their remaining 47 games, a .340 winning percentage, to tie a franchise worst 51 wins over a full 162 game season. Their winning percentage so far this season is currently .304, so we are more than likely witnessing what will be their worst season in team history.
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