Turn the page to the final full calendar month of the 2021 season. September for the Arizona Diamondbacks is going to be about evaluating for the future. Which prospects will earn a majority of playing time at the MLB level next year? Is it time to move on from some of the veterans? What will the pitching staff look like? Part of that evaluation today came in the form of Luke Weaver’s first appearance coming off the injured list since May 16th. There have been doubts as to whether he will be able to remain in the starting rotation or convert to a reliever, but at least for today there we no such qualms. He was dominant over six innings putting up one of the best outings of his 2021 season.
Weaver faced only two over the minimum through five innings. The first San Diego Padres hitter of the afternoon, Trent Grisham, reached on a single to right field to begin the game. He was erased immediately with a strong pickoff throw from Luke. San Diego would not have another baserunner until a two out double from Manny Machado in the fourth. Weaver quickly rebounded by striking out Fernando Tatis Jr. to end that scoring threat.
Machado’s double was sliced just past Pavin’s diving glove at first base, so I would argue bad luck as opposed to bad pitching on behalf of Weaver. I will also stand on the same argument in regards to the fifth inning leadoff double by Eric Hosmer. That one actually landed in Jake McCarthy’s glove in right center field, but Jake failed to secure the catch allowing Hosmer to reach safely. It was ruled a double but it was a fly ball that McCarthy should have caught. Regardless, no damage done through five innings. Luke was sitting 92 - 95 MPH with a reformed delivery and looked really good on the mound.
Weaver’s counterpart on the bump, Yu Darvish, struggled and failed to escape past the third inning. He has had no success against the Arizona Diamondbacks this season and their dominance of him continued today. Darvish allowed two base runners in the bottom of the first and another in the second, but did not give up any runs in either frame.
Once the third rolled around, the wheels fell off and the entire D’backs lineup had a plate appearance against him that inning before he was lifted. Ketel Marte got it started with a one out single, his second hit of the game, and was doubled home by Pavin Smith for the first run of the game. David Peralta moved Pavin to third base with a single which also allowed Pavin to score on a wild pitch during Josh VanMeter’s at bat. The scoring was far from over as VanMeter jacked a 95 MPH sinker into the right field bleachers for two more runs. Jake McCarthy drew a two out walk and subsequently stole second in the first MLB steal of his young career. Nick Ahmed singled him home giving Arizona a five run lead with Darvish struggling to put them away. The inning was kept alive when Luke Weaver reached first base on a throwing error from Manny Machado at third. That was the end of Yu Darvish’s day giving up five earned runs on seventy six pitches in two and two-thirds innings. Nabil Crismatt relieved him out of the bullpen giving up an RBI ringle to Josh Rojas before ending the frame on a Ketel Marte ground out.
Now with a commanding six run lead Weaver was able to pitch “downhill baseball” for the remainder of his outing. Take the time to listen to Jack’s postgame audio below. In the fifth inning, Luke Weaver advanced from first to third on Josh’s single. He talks about how that gassed him a little bit as he went out for the final inning of his start. He struck out Tommy Pham to begin the sixth. Trent Grisham reached down on the fourth pitch of his at bat to yank a bottom of the zone change up into the visitor’s bullpen for San Diego’s first run of the game. With the bullpen stirring for Arizona, Weaver buckled down and got fly outs from Jake Cronenworth and Manny Machado to complete his inning. His final line score was one earned run on four hits, three strikeouts, and no walks over six innings. Weaver had only three more pitches in over twice as many innings than Yu Darvish, so he was effective and efficient.
San Diego tried to mount a comeback against Noe Ramirez in the seventh. Wil Myers, a career .892 OPS hitter against the D’backs coming into the game, jacked a skyscraper two run home run to the left field bleachers making the score 6-to-3. Arizona added two in the bottom of the eighth courtesy of a lack of control by relievers Austin Adams and Tim Hill. Adams gave up a leadoff single to Marte which would be the only “strike” he threw in the inning. Adams then hit Pavin with the first pitch of his at bat, hit Peralta with the second pitch, and walked VanMeter on four straight with the bases loaded to score Marte. Jayce Tingler did not even wait for VanMeter to take his base before lifting Adams for Hill. If Daulton Varsho would have stood at the plate with his bat on his shoulder, there was a good chance Hill was going to plunk or walk him too. Instead he swung at an inside ball two grounding into a double play that scored Pavin from third. Hill hit McCarthy with the first pitch of his at bat, proving my previous point, but Ahmed grounded out to end the inning.
Tyler Clippard, not pitching in a save situation, secured the 8-to-3 victory with a brisk 1-2-3 ninth inning.
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