Record: 48-102. Pace: 52-110. Change on 2004: +1
With an off-day next Monday, this is my final scheduled recap of the year. I hoped the team might give me something warm and fluffy to take into the off-season, especially on what I think was the first game with the roof open since spring. After all, I've largely given up watching Diamondbacks games I don't have to recap: they're just not fun. While I will be at Chase over the last weekend, that's more likely to be a social event with a baseball game in the background. So this is, in all likelihood, my last meaningful experience of watching the 2021 Diamondbacks. It was, overall, as unsatisfactory an experience as most of the others. I guess there's something to be said for consistency.
The Diamondbacks actually had the lead after four innings, 3-2 - and it probably should have been 3-0. Humberto Mejia, announced as called up from Reno less than two hours before first pitch, made his third start for Arizona. The top of the first inning was of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it variety, taking only seven pitches. Mejia then worked around a lead-off double to post another zero in the second. And he deserved the same in the third, except for home-plate umpire Mike Muchlinski blowing what should have been an inning-ending strike three. Instead, the batter got to deliver a two-run double, giving Atlanta a 2-0 lead.
But Arizona came right back, scoring three in their half. Ildemaro Vargas led off with a walk and after Mejia couldn't get the bunt down, Josh Rojas singled. Ketel Marte doubled down into the right-field corner, scoring both men as the Braves kicked the relay about. Unfortunately, Marte was out at third on the play, otherwise he would also have scored on Daulton Varsho's subsequent triple. I would include video of one or other of those plays, but it appears the social media interns for both the D-backs and Bally Sports have checked out early. My Twitter feed showed more video from the Aces. Where Geraldo Perdomo has his first hit since getting promoted earlier today, I see.
Anyway, Varsho scored on a wild pitch, and Arizona had the lead! Neither side scored in the fourth. But the Braves certainly made up for that in the fifth, as the third time through the order proved to be far from the charm for Mejia. He faced four batters, and allowed three doubles and a single, before being lifted, with Atlanta now 5-3 up. Things only got worse from there, after Taylor Widener took over. Adam Duvall quickly launched a 483-ft bomb to the concourse in left center, the second longest by any Brave in the Statcast era. It wasn't until the eighth visiting batter that the first out of the fifth was recorded.
Not helped by errors from Vargas and Marte, Widener needed 33 pitches before he got out of the inning. By the time that happened, Atlanta had sent 12 men to the plate, and scored seven times, taking a 9-3 lead. Mejia's final line was an ugly one. Eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts, leading to six runs, all earned. Widener was charged with three runs in his inning of work, though two of those were unearned. Prof. Poppen did well in relief, with two scoreless innings, striking out three, though Brett de Geus allowed two runs in the ninth. And there was some cause for celebration in the bottom of the seventh, as Jake McCarthy came off the bench to hit his first major-league home-run (below - I guess the intern woke up).
First round-tripper is in the books for Jake McCarthy! pic.twitter.com/fQAeoh6S4E— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) September 21, 2021
On a night where the teams combined for 11 doubles (seven for Atlanta, four for Arizona), Marte and the Braves' Austin Riley each had three. There has only been one other game in the past decade where two players did that. The Rockies' Charlie Blackmon and Daniel Murphy did it against the Dodgers in September 2019. The night boosted Marte's average for the season to .327. While all the time lost to injury means he won't qualify for the batting title, that is currently the highest BA of any player in the majors with 250+ PA, because he overtook Vlad Guerrero Jr. as a result. Among Diamondbacks in that category, the only higher averages were Luis Gonzalez's .336 in 1999, and Marte's .329 in 2019.
Whether a result of the roof being open or not, there was a huge amount of loud contact being made. No fewer than a dozen balls, six by each team, were put into play at a speed of more than 102 mph, going up to Jorge Solar’s 110.8 mph double in the fifth. Arizona’s hardest-hit was barely slower, a David Peralta groundout at 110.7 mph in the third. But the heart of the Atlanta order were basically unstoppable, their 2-4 hitters going 8-for-15 with six RBI. The defeat, combined with the Orioles’ victory over the Phillies, means Arizona and Baltimore are back in a Tankapalooza dead heat, at 48-102 (they own the tie-breaker). It also means Atlanta extend their lead in the NL East back to three games,
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
A fifth of whisky: Ketel Marte, +17.8%
Fifth Amendment: Humberto Mejia, -44.4%
Inexplicably, what had been quite a chatty Gameday Thread, died and went to heaven in the top of the fifth inning. Still, it ended up just shy of two hundred comments, with the hard souls taking part being: AzDbackfanInDc, Blind Squirrel has found his nut, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Makakilo, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Schilling2001, Snake_Bitten, kilnborn, makattack71 and since_98. The only comment with more than two recs was a GIF, so no award there tonight.
The same two teams will be back at it tomorrow night, in another 6:40 pm start. Luke Weaver goes up against Toby Decided of Atlanta.