Yeah, so this was a funny one. I’ll be honest, I spent much more of the game focused on the Gameday Thread than I did on, well, the actual game. I’m not going to try to make excuses for that, honestly, at this point in the waning stages of our 2021 Diamondbacks fan experience, and I’m not going to apologize. I suspect I don’t even need to, because all of us who have been paying attention—and bless our hearts, masochists that we have become very accomplished at being this year—entirely understand, I expect. But here we are, and I will give you as thorough a recap as I can, whether you actually want it or not. Eat your spinach, people. Take your medicine. It’s good for you.
Okay, whew. Sorry about that. It’s been a long and harrowing week and change, for various reasons. So. Tonight saw San Diego lefty Blake Snell face off against our putative ace at this point, righty Zac Gallen, who has been very good at times this year and has a frankly offensive number of losses to his credit due to failures of the bullpen and/or failures of the offense. He’s also had two stints on the IL, and especially since his latest return, his control has been shaky, particularly in the early going, which has resulted in unpleasantly high first-inning pitch counts. This was not the case tonight, though the result wound up being another loss.
Tonight, Gallen set down the top of the Padres’ very good lineup in order, and only needed nine pitches to do it. It was weird and stunning (to me, anyway), as I think we all know that he is capable of doing that but we also haven’t seen him do it in a very long time. Our boys wasted a leadoff Nick Ahmed walk in the bottom half, thanks to Ketel Marte flying out to center, Carson Kelly grounding into a fielder’s choice that might well have been an inning-ending double play had it not been for Carson’s hustle to beat the throw, and then a Christian Walker pop-up in the infield that was the third out.
Side note: I realized as the bottom half of the first that, due to me maybe being a bit scatterbrained right now, I’d omitted Walker’s presence in the lineup from my scoresheet until that AB, and so I had to scribble a bunch of stuff out to correct it. The cause might have also been a subconscious urge to erase Walker from the reality of our everyday lineup at this point (cf. one of the recent roundtables), but who can say conclusively? The human brain is truly a mystery.
Anyway, it looked like it was gonna be a pitcher’s duel early, and in many respects it was, all the way through. Gallen gave up a one-out ground-rule double to Eric Hosmer in the second, and a leadoff single to Padres left fielder and eight-hole batter Jurickson Profar to lead off the third, but stranded both of them, needing only 13 pitches in the second and 11 in the third to got it done. So after three, Gallen had only thrown 33 pitches, despite the minimal traffic. It was looking good. On the other side, Snell seemed to have settled in after the first inning’s indications of possible wildness, striking out the side in the second and recording two more strikeouts in a blemishless third.
Gallen began to make me uneasy in the top of the fourth, walking Francisco Tatis Jr. and Eric Hosmer back to back with oneout, and then walking former Pittsburgh Pirate standout and current San Diego second baseman Adam Frazier one out later to load the bases. Gallen finally got Profar to strike out swinging to wriggle off the hook without damage, but it took him 22 pitches to get through the inning, and he seemed in that frame like he had lost his command of the strike zone. Still, he was only at 55 pitches through four scoreless, which is much better than we’ve seen from him recently.
Snell gave us another baserunner in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to Walker drawing a walk—I’m not even going to bother trying to make a joke out of that, because I’m pretty sure I’ve done that, feebly but doggedly, more than once in my last two or three recaps. It was a two-out walk, though, preceded by swinging Ks by Marte and Carson Kelly, and it was followed by Pavin Smith (in left tonight, because infielders are the best outfielders, and it’s best to move them to different outfield spots to find where their true talent lies, right?), who flied out to left.
In the top of the fifth, it initially looked like Gallen was settling down again, as he retired Snell on one pitch, turned over the lineup, and got Padres CF and leadoff batter Trent Grisham to hit a grounder right back to him for the second out. San Diego shortstop Jake Cronenworth then singled to left, sadly, bringing Manny Machado to the plate. On the fifth pitch of Machado’s at bat, Gallen threw him a meatball slider that Machado’s bat found right smack in the middle of the zone and sent over the fence in left center field. He struck out Tatis, which was nice, but first blood had been drawn. 2-0 San Diego
Our boys had clearly left their bats in the trunks of their respective cars and had not yet gone to retrieve them, as they went down in order again, garnering Snell two more strikeouts. If you’re paying close attention, you will note that I have not yet mentioned a Diamondbacks hitter actually achieving a base hit. This is not an oversight. There had been none. Snell had not been particularly efficient in terms of pitch count to this point, but nevertheless he had a no-hitter through five innings. Ugh.
Gallen came out for the sixth, and finished it, which was nice, I suppose, as it meant that he achieved a “quality start”. Thing was, after recording the first two outs, he surrendered his fourth walk of the game to Adam Frazier, and then Profar lined a single to right that was fairly hard-hit, not terribly deep, and which tonight’s right fielder Jake McCarthy (you can be forgiven for asking, “Who?!”) fielded well. He got the throw in promptly to Andrew Young, who was playing second. Frazier, who started the play on first base, had advanced to third on the play, and then decided to break for home. Young saw this, but did not throw with any urgency to Kelly at the plate, and the throw was a bit too far up the third base line, and Frazier wound up scoring on a play that, once McCarthy got the ball back into the infield really looked like it should be the third out. But it wasn’t. 3-0 San Diego
The play was close, and was challenged and upheld, and wasn’t scored an error, but I think this was another example of the lackadaisical fielding that Jim addressed (with a bullet list, if I recall correctly, though words failed him at one point, understandably) in the recap of last night’s game.
And yeah, that was pretty much it. Snell kept his no-hitter bid going through the seventh, before getting yanked for a reliever because he was at 107 pitches at that point. There was some debate in the Gameday Thread about whether that was righteous and just or whether it was despicably wimpy modern-day baseball, and like most such debates, it ended without a conclusive winner. Fair points were made on both sides.
Gallen, meanwhile, was pulled after finishing the sixth, and despite another inning where we loaded the bases full of Padres on three walks, no further damage was done. Taylor Clarke pitched a scoreless ninth after Caleb Smith took care of the seventh and the eighth, despite the walks.
On the admittedly minimal upside, we broke up the Padres no-no with one out in the bottom of the eighth, in the midst of a small orgy of pinch hitters. David Peralta, batting for Drew Ellis, who had been playing third base tonight, blooped a single to shallow left off some Padres reliever guy. Nothing more of note ensued, though, but at least we had a hit now. We wound up getting two more singles in the bottom of the ninth thanks to Carson Kelly and Christian Walker, but they were preceded by Ahmed and Marte strikeouts and followed up by a Pavin Smith strikeout to end the desultory misery. Tra la.
Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs
I try to go with Jim’s movie things at the top of the Gameday Thread, but I know nothing about “Uncle Buck,” which was apparently at the top the the box office charts on this day in some year, and I find that I have no interest in learning more. No offense, Jim, but it’s late and I’m tired. Also, it turns out that nobody stood out in terms of either success (let’s face it, there was no success tonight for our team), or suckage either, in terms of win probability. The only one who surpassed 10% was Pavin Smith, with a -10.5% WPA, and I’m not going to stick him with a mean moniker because honestly he was fundamentally no worse than anyone else tonight. Everyone in the lineup and on the mound basically performed at the same mediocre level, and so there were no standouts. As I’ve noted before, WPA is weird.
Anyhow. Despite a very sparse presence in the early innings, the Gameday Thread wound up being pleasingly populated by the end for such an undramatic game, with 15 contributors offering 254 comments by the end. DC was present and participating into the top of the ninth before noping out (not unreasonably), and so yours truly actually wound up edging him out tonight, with 64 comments to his 56. All present and accounted for were: AzDbackfanInDc, Dano_in_Tucson, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, KJKrug, Makakilo, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Snacks&Dbacks, Snake_Bitten, kilnborn, since_98, therealramona
There were only two comments that barely went Sedona Red tonight, and I’m in a somewhat awkward position here, because one of them is mine and one of them is from therealramona, who was watching the game on the couch beside me. Not baseball relevant, but I’m gonna give it to my sweetie, for the understated but deep lyrical knowledge she apparently has of Thomas Dolby song(s):
I suspect there might be some outcry suggesting that I am playing favorites with this choice, so here’s my defense, in advance: I gave the first rec, but three more of you all gave the recs that turned it red. So if anyone was playing favorites, it was you. You were the ones playing favorites. So there. Rubber, glue, etc.
And that’s okay, because I agree, in terms of favorites. She’s certainly my favorite, so I’m right there with ya.
Anyway. We’ve got some getaway day business tomorrow, with an weekday afternoon game to cap off this Friars experience. We’ve already lost the series, but maybe we can at least avoid the sweep? It might be worth having a look, if for no other reason than because apparently Luke Weaver (remember him?) will be getting the start for us, in his long time coming return from the IL. He will be facing off against Yu Darvish, so....I dunno. Some more baseball will occur. First pitch will be 12:40pm, AZ time. Join us if you dare.
As always, thanks for reading, and as always, go D-Backs!