Record: 44-89. Pace: 54-108. Change on 2004: +2.
Despite a grand-slam by Ketel Marte, Jade Carey’s acrobatic first pitch (above) was probably the best thing about this game, as the D-backs lost their fourth game in a row. The first two innings in particular tonight were a poster child for why I've more or less given up watching the Diamondbacks unless I'm recapping. They featured a rank failure to execute baseball fundamentals, which would have embarrassed a Little League team. If Torey Lovullo doesn't go off in the clubhouse tonight, we need to check him for a pulse. Though only one play was scored as an error, a more realistic assessment could have charged Arizona with four errors before Tyler Gilbert recorded six outs.
The first came with two outs and a runner on first in the top of the first. Gilbert got the runner picked off as he broke for second. But Christian Walker's throw was well to Josh Rojas's left at second base, and clanked off Rojas's glove. Instead of being out of the inning, Gilbert then allowed a two-run homer to Fernando Tatis. There ended Tyler's hopes of another no-hitter. It was the 76th and 77th unearned run allowed by the Diamondbacks this year. That's most in the majors: the NL average, coming into play today, was 52. But it was a crisp display of defense, compared to the second inning. We join the frame in progress, after a lead-off double, followed by a strikeout.
- Non-error #1. A single to right. The Padres man on second ran through a stop sign from the third-base coach. But Pavin Smith’s throw sailed way over the cutoff man, plus way over and wide of catcher Daulton Varsho. The run scored and the hitter went to second.
- Non-error #2. The pitcher (a career. 069 hitter) bunted and... I'm sorry, words fail me. Just look at the play below, and tell me in what universe that gets scored as a single. Everyone was safe.
- Non-error #3. The Padres leadoff hitter bunts. None of the D-backs cover first-base. Everyone is safe, and San Diego takes a 4-0 lead.
I am not sure what happened here pic.twitter.com/feLyjfr6W0— Zach Buchanan (@ZHBuchanan) August 31, 2021
According to Steve Gilbert, Lovullo didn't even wait for the game to end, and "appeared to yell at some of his players in the dugout," after the end of the inning. No shit. I was yelling at them from my couch. The Padres added another the third - this one, not requiring help from the home team. Meanwhile through three innings, the Arizona offense had a David Peralta single as their sole baserunner, having gone 1-for-10 with four K’s. Given this, it feels almost a win that Gilbert went five. He gave up eight more hits than last time vs. the Padres - though as noted above, some were highly charitable scoring decisions . He allowed one walk, struck out four, and three earned runs (again, take the caveat about scoring as read), as well as the pair of unearned runs.
The Diamondbacks did get on the board in the fifth, albeit helped by the Padres - perhaps they felt sorry. The team got two-out singles by Varsho and Nick Ahmed, and San Diego opted to lift the need for Arizona to get a hit with runners in scoring position, uncorking a run-scoring wild pitch. San Diego got that back on a home-run off Matt Peacock in the seventh, and Arizona then looked likely to squander a second-and-third, no outs opportunity, obtained against much beloved former D-back, Daniel Hudson after Josh VanMeter walked, and Varsho doubled. But then Ahmed and pinch-hitter Andrew Young struck out - the latter now has 34 strikeouts to only four walks in his 72 PA - and Rojas went 1-2 behind.
However, Rojas battled his way back, drawing a ten-pitch walk, to load the bases. Ketel Marte then delivered:
GRAND. SLAM. pic.twitter.com/07QFdBmWve— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 31, 2021
While the D-backs have had more PA with the bases juiced than any team bar the Dodgers, they had just one grand-slam - by Young - in their previous 139 such at-bats. Marte also extended his hitting streak to 11 games, Ketel's second such run of the season. The only D-back with a longer streak this year is Pavin Smith’s 14-game run [Rojas also has one of 11 games] It was then up to the bullpen to keep it a one-run game. Prof. Sean Poppen and Joe Mantiply did so in the eighth, but J.B. Wendelken continued the J.B. curse in the ninth. Admittedly, there was an odd decision by Lovullo to pitch to Tatis after Manny Machado hit a one-out double. rather than walk Tatis to set up Eric Hosmer for the double-play.
An almost inevitable RBI double followed, and Wendelken then intentionally walked Hosmer. After the game Torey said, if they’d got to a certain count, they’d have walked Tatis. But he felt the match-up favored Wendelken. “You’ve got to pick your poison in that line-up, and sometimes you don’t pick the right one.” But it proved moot, as after Marte made it a game, the D-backs went down in order in the eighth, and could only manage an Ahmed double in the ninth. He and Varsho had two hits apiece, but bright spots were few. I have to say though, VanMeter looked very good at the hot corner: if that’s typical of his defense, we may be okay there, though his bat still has some work to do.
After the game, Torey said he was very frustrated to see the team “not play up to their defensive capabilties,” and if they’d done that, the outcome would have been different. “We will address that,” he said, and confirmed that he did speak to the team after the second inning. “One of those more intense moments,” he described it. “We looked like crap, and that’s why I wanted to get their attention.”
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Gold medal: Ketel Marte, +18.0%
Fell off the beam: Tyler Gilbert, -27.4%
134 comments, which isn’t bad considering the D-backs were 5-0 down by the middle of the third. It would probably have been half that, if not for Marte’s slam! Present were: AzRattler, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Snacks&Dbacks, Snake_Bitten, kilnborn and makattack71. Thanks to all of them for showing up. Comment of the night to Michael for proving himself a better manager than Lovullo, for one PA at least:
Same two teams tomorrow, with a 6:40 pm start, as Zac Gallen goes up against Blake Snell.