There’s something to be said about coming back to the place you grew up. A flood of memories, friends, and family. Christian Walker has struggled this year, to put it lightly. Inasmuch, the team has slowly given away his guaranteed at-bats. And who can blame them? His power has been sapped this season, coming into today’s game he has only 24 extra-base hits on the season, and a homerless July has turned the career power threat into a defense-first middle infielder. But Walker is hoping a return to Pennsylvania, and Mom’s home cooking, can give a shimmer of hope in an otherwise awful season.
Before the game even started, the starting lineup shifted for both teams, with David Peralta being removed for the D-backs, and Matt Moore starting for the Phillies. No reason was given. But no matter, Zac Gallen was on the mound, coming off a superb performance his last time up. It may have started with a scoreless inning, but he needed 31 pitches to do so after walking two batters. No worries right? Gallen will calm down. And he more or less did, despite allowing 2-out extra-base hits in the 2nd and 3rd innings, he mowed through the Phillies until the 5th, when the team’s sloppy defensive effort started a little rally. What should have been another 3 batter inning turned into a disaster when Jean Segura homered to right with 2 outs, scoring Galvis who reached on an error from Gallen. And after the 5th, Gallen’s pitch count was just too high, needing 103 pitches to escape those 5 innings.
Thankfully, the offense came to play. Fueled by the pregame 120 meatballs prepared by Christian Walker’s mother, the offense came to play. The 2nd started with a leadoff Pavin Smith single, and Christian Walker had his first of 4 hits on the night, mostly fueled by meatballs. Josh Rojas followed with a single of his own to score Smith, and Drew Ellis kept the party going with a single of his own. But, despite runners at 2nd and 3rd, the top of the lineup couldn’t capitalize, leaving the inning with only a 2-0 lead.
The 4th saw more power lead to runs, with an Ellis double and Ahmed homer doubling the lead to 4-0. But as mentioned before, Gallen gave up a 2-run homer of his own to cut that lead back to 4-2, before the offense responded with another two-run inning, this time with the weak stuff, as Varsho singled, Ahmed walked, and singles from Cabrera and Kelly got those 2 runs back for a 6-2 lead.
Unfortunately, the injury bug continues to haunt this organization. Off the awful news of a torn labrum tear in Jordan Lawlar’s shoulder, Ketel Marte came up grimacing after jumping out of the way of a wayward pitch from JD Hammer. He’d eventually strikeout and leave the game. While I don’t expect it to be more than a Grade 1 strain, can this team catch one break?
From there it was easy sailings... HAHA it’s the 2021 D-backs, of course it wasn’t going to be easy. Carson Kelly hammered a 2-run homer to give the team a large 8-2 lead, which you would’ve thought was enough of a lead for this bullpen, but alas, that was not the case.
With that 6 run lead, Brett de Gaus was summoned to close things out. Luke Williams walked, and Walker’s perfect night was ruined after flubbed a grounder to his left, putting runners at 1st and 3rd. A grounder scored a run, and Varsho clanked a long fly ball to center off his glove, putting two runners in scoring position with the heart of the lineup in sights. Old friend Segura struck out, but Bryce Harper doubled to center, scoring two more runs and putting this game in scary territory. Noe Ramirez came on in relief and promptly walked Realmuto, coupled with a passed ball from Kelly that put two more runners in scoring position. Another old friend, Didi Gregorius singled to right, trimming that lead to a slim 8-7 lead, but thankfully Brad Miller struck out on three straight pitches off the plate to end our suffering and give the D-backs their 4th straight win against the Phillies and first of the series.
All that worry in the 9th and for what? A less than 10% chance of losing? Sure felt like more. With a big lead, there wasn’t much room for big WPA’s as Zac Gallen’s 5IP and 6 strikeouts led the way with a +.098. On the offensive side, Drew Ellis saw the largest figure, with his two early hits leading the way as he earned a +.087 on the night.
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The early start didn’t do much help for the GameThread, but thanks for hanging around if you did. The team continues its series tomorrow at 4PM, stop on by and thanks for reading.