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Diamondbacks 4, San Francisco 5 (10 Innings): Suckery, Thy Name Is Bullpen

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Merrill Kelly had a three-hit shutout through eight. Once again, an exemplary start wound up being for naught.

Protest against Turkey’s inaction over the shelling on Idlib
That’s our relief corps for ya.
Photo by Anas Alkharboutli/picture alliance via Getty Images

So if I told you that a starter put up a line of 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, striking out 4 and walking 2, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it had been a pretty good game. If I also told you that the offense had put four runs on the board in the first three innings, you’d think it had been even better. And honestly it was, right until the very bitter end.

Merrill Kelly had the mound for us, and he retired the top of the Giants lineup in order on only 6 pitches in the top of the first. That was pretty great.

Nick Ahmed was batting leadoff this afternoon for us, as we were facing a lefty starter in Alex Wood. Nick did the business, hitting a ball into the left-center gap that was not all that deep, but that he stretched into a hustle double. Ketel Marte flew out to deep center, advancing Nick to third. Wood, who was not looking particularly sharp, then walked Carson Kelly and Christian Walker to load the bases for Pavin Smith, just back from the covid contract tracing IL. Pavin did this:

Drew Ellis then struck out and Jake “Why Is He On Our Roster?” Hager grounded out to third to end the inning, but the Snakes had struck first. 2-0 D-BACKS

Kelly got into a bit of trouble in the second, giving up a one-out single to Brandon Crawford followed by a two-out walk to Brandon Belt, but he ended the frame by inducing a Curt Casali popup to shallow right, so no harm was done. He threw 21 pitches in the inning, though, basically negating his quick first inning. The Diamondbacks squandered a very pretty Daulton Varsho leadoff bunt single in the bottom of the second, which was a shame, but Kelly continued to cruise, retiring the Giants in order on only 11 pitches in the third.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks offense seemed to have found Alex Wood’s number, as Carson Kelly singled to left to start the bottom of the third. Christian Walker singled to shallow center, and Pavin Smith hit pretty much a duplicate of his first inning single, scoring Kelly and advancing Walker to second:

Drew Ellis then singled to shallow left, which loaded the bases for Hager. Wood then walked Hager on four pitches, allowing Walker to, well, walk home. One mound visit later, Wood seemed to reset, and he retired Varsho, Merrill Kelly and Ahmed to end the frame. I kinda felt we should’ve gotten more out of that inning, but hey, at least we were piling on at least a little, right? 4-0 D-BACKS

And basically that’s all we need to talk about until the end, as Kelly continued to go out and efficiently dispose of the Giants for the next five innings. He surrendered a two-out double to Casali in the fifth, a two-out Kris Bryant single in the sixth, and a walk to Donovan Solano in the seventh, but that was all San Francisco could muster against him. He threw 11 pitches in the fourth, 10 in the fifth, 15 in the sixth, 16 in the seventh, and 12 pitches in the eighth, bringing his pitch count to 102 for the day. It was a hell of a performance, and many of us in the Gameday Thread wanted to see Kelly come out to try to close out the complete game shutout, but Torey Lovullo clearly had other ideas.

Meanwhile, though this escaped my notice at the time because I was so focused on Kelly’s outstanding performance, the Diamondbacks offense had quietly struck their tents and slunk off into the desert, managing no hits after the third inning and only managing three more baserunners, thanks to Ketel Marte getting plunked by Wood to led off the fourth and back-to-back walks to Ahmed and Marte by Giants reliever and former Diamondback Dominic Leone in the sixth. Nothing came of any of that, so on we go to the top of the ninth, where we were greeted by the sight of Taylor Clarke, just back from a long stint on the IL. Huzzah.

Needless to say, it went badly. Atrociously, even. He gave up a leadoff double to Kris Bryant off the wall in left, followed by an Alex Dickerson single to right that advanced Bryant to third. Then Brandon Crawford hit a double himself, this one off the wall in right center, that scored Bryant. Pavin Smith, who was patrolling right field this afternoon, made a really nice play on the carom and got the ball back into the infield quickly enough that Dickerson had to stop at third base. So that earned Taylor Clarke the hook after 13 pitches and no outs recorded. 4-1 D-BACKS

Tyler Clippard came in to try to put and end to things and, well, he failed to do so. He hit Donovan Solano with a pitch, loading the bases, and then gave up a single to Brandon Belt that scored Dickerson from first and kept the bases loaded. Buster Posey came in to bat in place of Casali, and Clippard struck him out, and then got Wilmer Flores to pop out to shallow right, and it looked like we might actually get out of this. But no, it was not to be. Giants leadoff hitter and right fielder LaMonte Wade Jr. worked the count full and then shot a single into right center, and since the runners were going on the pitch, both Crawford and Solano scored on the play. Finally, Clippard ended the awfulness by catching Tommy LaStella looking at strike three, but Kelly’s stellar start had been squandered. 4-4 TIE

Our offense, meanwhile, was nowhere to be found in the bottom of the ninth, so the game went into extras, with LaStella starting the top of the tenth on second base. Tyler Gilbert came out of the ‘pen for the tenth, and promptly surrendered a double to Kris Bryant that plated LaStella. He and Brett de Geus shut the Giants down after that, but the offense had left the building long before, and we couldn’t score in the bottom half, so that was that. 5-4 San Francisco

Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs

Amanda Waller: Merrill Kelly (8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 K, 2 BB, +30.9% WPA)
Captain(s) Boomerang: Taylor Clarke (-16.3% WPA), Tyler Clippard (-18.2% WPA), Carson Kelly (-19.1% WPA), Drew Ellis (-18.7% WPA)

It wound up being a very lively Gameday Thread, especially there at the end when the wailing and gnashing of teeth commenced. All in all we had 28 contributors who offered up 456 comments. DC and Our Fearless Leader led the way with 95 and 47 comments respectively. All present and accounted for were: AzDbackfanInDc, ChuckJohnson56, DBacksEurope, Dano_in_Tucson, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, FootstepsFalco16, GuruB, Jack Sommers, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Justin27, Makakilo, MesaDBacksFan, MikeMono, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Snacks&Dbacks, Snake_Bitten, VW Beetle, chronicles_of_the_desert, edbigghead, gzimmerm, kilnborn, piratedan7, since_98, therealramona

since_98 got the most recs by far, but sadly the recs were for an animated GIF meme, which doesn’t really work for a CotG. You should check it out, because it pretty funny, but I’m going instead with Snake_Bitten’s midgame comment, which captured how a lot of us were feeling at that point in the game:

It’s still been so long, alas, as it turned out.

If you’re feeling up to it, or just enjoy gratuitous suffering, consider stopping by tomorrow to look in on the Diamondbacks as we visit San Diego. Caleb Smith takes the mound for us, facing off against Padres lefty Ryan Weathers. This is a late one, with first pitch at 7:10pm AZ time. Hope to see you, you mad, crazy brave souls.

Anyway. As always, thanks for reading, and as always, Go Diamondbacks!