Record: 33-74. Pace: 50-112. Change on 2004: 0
Credit the Diamondbacks offense for at least putting in the effort. After falling behind 7-1, as the J.B. Bukauskas Implosion Tour 2021 made its latest stop, they fought back, tying the game at 8-8 in the seventh inning and forcing unexpected extra innings. But this bullpen has never met a high-leverage situation which they couldn’t screw up, and it was Miguel Aguilar’s turn to be the goat - as opposed to the GOAT - tonight. He allowed three runs in the top of the 10th, and the Diamondbacks went down meekly in the bottom half. I’m neither surprised nor particularly upset. It’s one more step towards the top draft pick next year, and if it helps stop the Dodgers from winning the division... Hey, I’ll fall on that sword. It’s not as if we will.
Taylor Widener was the starter, and he came within two pitches of becoming the third D-backs starter this year to throw 100 pitches in a game (Caleb Smith has done so three time, Zac Gallen once). The bad news? He needed 98 to get through 4.1 innings, scattering five hits and three walks, though did strike out seven batters. The only damage while he was still on the mound came on a two-run homer in the top of the third inning off the bat of Mike Yastrzemski. Arizona got one of those back, as singles by Kole Calhoun and Asdrubal Cabrera put runners on the corner, and Giants’ starter Anthony DeSclafani obligingly uncorked a wild pitch to put the D-backs on the board.
The fifth inning took fifty minutes to complete, as both teams sent eight men to the plate, scoring a total of nine runs, including a trio of multi-run homers. As ‘hacks pointed out, before being injured, Widener had been solid, recording 22.1 innings over his four starts, going at least five innings on each occasion. But since coming back, he has made five starts and has yet to reach five innings. Injury derailed one, and he was likely still being stretched out in another. But as noted above, his efficiency appears to have been infected by a case of Robbie Rayitis. The same thing happened last start, when he took 87 pitches to get through 3.2 innings.
This evening, he loaded the bases with one out in the fifth on two walks and a single, which brought Torey Lovullo out with the hook. Given the pitch count, that was fair enough. But I’m not sure that J.R. Bukauskas would have been my first choice to pitch in a one-run game with the bases loaded. Admittedly, his three second-half appearances had all resulted in scoreless innings. This one? Not so much. First, he walked in a run to make the score 3-1. He then allowed a grand-slam to Alex Dickerson, whose last hit of any kind came on July 23rd. That made the score 7-1 to San Francisco, and even though Bukauskas escaped the inning without further damage, got his ERA back up to 8.27.
Arizona would have been forgiven for rolling over, playing dead, and perhaps warming up Daulton Varsho to pitch an inning or two. But Josh Reddick came off the bench to deliver a pinch-hit, two-run homer, and Asdrubal Cabrera followed up with another one later in the frame, making the score 7-5 to San Francisco. The newest member of the Arizona WaiverWires, “Professor” Sean Poppen made his debut - as noted in the preview [stares at commentary booth], becoming the record 55th player used by the team this year. He showed why his rookie status is still intact, allowing a home-run to former D-backs Wilmer Flores, but otherwise keeping us in the game, pitching the sixth and seventh.
Arizona loaded the bases with no outs, but it looked like this would another one of their patented Opportunity Squandering, as Carson Kelly flew out and Drew Ellis grounded out, albeit the latter bringing in a run to make it 8-6. Despite having scored six runs, Arizona were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, and with Christian Walker up, things didn’t exactly look promising. He had been 0-for-3 on the night, making him just .176 (6-for-34) over his last nine games. But the team finally got the clutch hit they had been seeking, a double to left field (below) bringing home two runs, tying the game unexpectedly at eight apiece.
Brett De Geus and Tyler Clippard worked scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth. The former has actually been a waiver wire claim that has pitched pretty well for the Diamondbacks since being snagged from the Rangers. He has four earned runs over 12 innings, for a 3.00 ERA. His FIP with Arizona is higher - 3.97 coming into this game - but I don’t feel a Bukauskas-shaped cloud of dread forming when he enters the game. The same can’t be said of Aguilar, who has let all the goodwill created by his impressive first appearance to evaporate. This evening, he allowed not just the ghost runner to score in the tenth, but two more on two hits and a walk, finally putting the game beyond reach.
Positives would include multi-hit games for the top three in the D-backs’ order, Kole Calhoun, Ketel Marte and Cabrera. Negatives would include Nick Ahmed’s season OPS dropping below .600, to .598. The only qualified hitter in franchise history with a sub-.600 OPS for a season was Chris Owings’s .587 in 2015. That’s not the sort of company you want to keep.
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Signs: Kole Calhoun, +18.0%
The Sixth Sense: Cabrera, +17.9%; Walker, +16.9%; Clippard, +14.0%; De Geus, +10.8%
The Happening: Josh Hager, -23.6%
The Village: Aguilar, -23.2%; Bukauskas, -21.8%; Kelly, -17.4%; Widener, -11.9%; Ahmed, -10.0%
A brisk GDT, getting past 300 comments. Present in the Gameday Thread were: AzDbackfanInDc, DBacksEurope, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, MesaDBacksFan, Michael McDermott, NikT77, NinaT14, Oldenschoole, Smurf-1000, Snake_Bitten, Ubersnake, VW Beetle, gzimmerm and kilnborn. I’m awarding Comment of the Thread to Snake Bitten and Diamondhacks for their invaluable help in a performance of the rare unscheduled Triple Comment, after Poppen gave up a home-run to the second batter he faced in a D-backs uniform:
Second in the four-game series tomorrow night, and it should be an interesting one, as Madison Bumgarner faces his old team, and Johnnie Cueto. 6:40 pm first pitch. I believe I am not currently scheduled to recap. But I’m not making any plans.