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Diamondbacks 1, Atlanta 6: (Don’t Fear) the Rattlle

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Yeah, we can’t even spell a two-syllable word right without technological intervention. We certainly weren’t gonna win this baseball game. SIGH

h/t hippedyhopsguy on Twitter

So I believe I’ve noted on several occasions over the course of this year that writing about Diamondbacks games in 2021 has presented me with an interesting ongoing challenge: namely, to try to keep my interest and find something maybe insightful to take note of when writing about games that we were just about inevitably gonna lose. This was another one of those games, as it turned out, and I was pretty sure of it by the time to top of the first inning was over. Let’s see how well I’m learning this new skill, and let’s see how I do. Fair warning, your mileage my vary. Mine certainly does.

tl;dr: Luke Weaver threw a whole bunch of first-pitch strikes, consistently, over the course of his somewhat ugly 623 inning outing, which I think was a good sign —the first-pitch strikes, not the overall ugliness. Daulton Varsho batted leadoff, and was good in that role. Overall, the Diamondbacks sucked, and the Braves were very, very good, as advertised. Hence the final score.

Anyhow. So Luke Weaver started for us tonight, back from a long stint on the IL and maybe starting to settle in again as a part of the rotation. Originally he was slated to face off against Touki Toussaint, whose name some of you might remember, if you’ve been paying attention to the Diamondbacks for awhile. It turned out, however, that this would not be the case, as Jesse Chavez was announced as the “starting pitcher” for Atlanta, which meant it was gonna be a bullpen game for them. Which is great, in a way, because the Braves have at least several very good starting pitchers. Also, though, not so great, because our bullpen sucks, and it turned out tonight that even the relative dregs of their bullpen were better than our starting staff. Good times.

Jorge Soler, the Braves’ leadoff batter, reached first on a Josh VanMeter error to start the game. Soler then sat down as Freddie Freeman hit into a 4-6 fielder’s choice. One flyout to left later, Atlanta third baseman and, apparently, dark-horse MVP candidate Austin Riley launched a decent Luke Weaver changeup into the left-field seats. Weaver then struck out Atlanta center fielder Adam Duvall to shut it down, but we were already in a hole. 2-0 Atlanta

In the bottom of the first, we found Daulton Varsho leading off, because why not? He was also playing right field tonight, so it wasn’t like our leadoff batter was a catcher or something. I actually wound up liking Varsho in the leadoff spot. He may have come up as a catcher, but he gives us good, patient ABs mostly, and he does surprising things from time to time and seemed to provide a leadoff spark tonight that it doesn’t seem to me like we’ve managed a whole lot of this year. He drew a five-pitch walk to start things off, promptly stole second, and two outs later David Peralta drew a walk of his own to give us two baserunners and a chance to respond quickly and dig ourselves out of the hole. Josh VanMeter, though, was batting fifth, and popped out to shallow left, so there was nothing doing.

Weaver pitched around a one-out Travis D’Arnaud single to record a scoreless second, albeit not an entirely clean one. But he seemed to maybe be settling in, and after two innings, his pitch count was only at 32, which for a Diamondbacks starter in 2021 is definitely not too shabby. Hell, Zac Gallen surpassed 32 pitches regularly by the time he’s through the first. Also, while Weaver was already through one pass at the entirety of the Braves’ batting order, he’d thrown a first-pitch strike to every batter he’d faced. So that’s a good thing, right?

The Diamondbacks, sadly, sat down in order in the bottom of the second. Even more sadly, in the top of the third, Weaver surrendered a one-out Freddie Freeman single to right, followed by a lofty dinger into the right field bleachers to Atlanta second baseman Ozzie Albies. Again, he shut it down thereafter, and only needed 17 more pitches to get through the whole thing, but that put him at 49 pitches after three and also put the score at 4-0 Atlanta.

In the bottom of the third, Luke Weaver led off for us, and struck out on three pitches, turning the lineup over. Daulton Varsho then, wearing his leadoff-hitter hat (which, I will say again, suits him), bunted the first pitch he saw up the first base line for the Diamondbacks first hit. Ketel Marte, happy to be manning 2B again tonight, then singled to center, and Varsho advanced to third on a bold baserunning move. Pavin Smith, playing 1B tonight, then grounded out to second, but it was a productive out, as Varsho scored, and Marte advanced to third. David Peralta then grounded out to first to end things, but we were at least on the board. 4-1 Atlanta

And that, sadly, is pretty much it. To his credit, Luke Weaver finally pitched a fully clean inning in the fourth, needing only eleven pitches to do so. Weaver actually wound up going six and two thirds, despite surrendering a Jorge Soler dinger with one out in the fifth (5-1 Atlanta), and dealing with some unnecessary traffic thanks for a Carson Kelly catcher’s interference error with two outs in the bottom of the seventh that wound up earning him the hook. He only needed nine pitches to get though another spotless frame in the bottom of the sixth, so that was nice. He finished having thrown 102 pitches, 78 of them for strikes, and of the 28 batters he faced, he threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of them. Aside from the five runs (three earned), and the three dingers, it was in many respects it wasn’t a bad outing. But it was strange. From the GDT:

You are not wrong.

Anyhow. We loaded the bases thanks to a leadoff Ketel Marte single in the bottom of the eighth, followed by a VanMeter walk followed by a Kole Calhoun (pinch-hitting for Carson Kelly) walk, but that was the closest we came to actually mounting a threat after the run we scored in the third. And our bullpen boy JB Wendelken gave up one more run in the top of the ninth, to give us our final score. 6-1 Atlanta

Win Probability, Courtesy of Fangraphs

The “Fallout” video game franchise, even including “Fallout: Tactics”: Kole Calhoun (0 AB, 1 BB, +3.5% WPA)
The “Resident Evil” franchise, in toto: (6.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, -21.9% WPA)

Given how late in the season it is, and given how bad the product is on the field, and given how likely we are to lose on any given evening, I gotta give big props and heartfelt thanks to all the folks who were in the Gameday Thread tonight. Sixteen of us provided 191 comments, with Justin and yours truly ending the night tied for 49 apiece. So good job, us! All present and accounted for were: Dano_in_Tucson, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Justin27, Makakilo, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Schilling2001, Snake_Bitten, katers15, kilnborn, makattack71, since_98, therealramona

Meanwhile, in terms of the CotG, I’m actually going to do something that might well be controversial. Those of us who were there tonight actually discussed it some, though, in the GDT, and it feels to me like the right thing to do. There were comments by Justin, Jack, and me that all went Sedona Red, but Jack and Justin’s were both image/meme thangs, and mine was, well, mine, so I am, with a quorum (quorlum) of five (okay, kilnborn cast a vote on behalf of Guru by proxy, while is maybe a bit suspect, but even so, we have four), giving tonight’s to DC in absentia, because, as careful readers will notice, he did not actually comment.

That made me sad, because he usually shows up on Tuesdays, and it’s always a pleasure for me and Ramona to see and interact with him. Beyond that, DC is such a stalwart on this site, and on the GDTs, even when the team sucks profoundly, like it does right now. DC’s absence tonight strikes me as a very powerful comment in its own right regarding how hard it is to follow this team right now. If I weren’t recapping tonight, I certainly would have just had a few beers on the porch with Ramona and gone to bed early, and been pretty happy with my evening.

Let me also say, though, that I’m impressed by the fortitude of everyone who does show up for the GDT on any given night, and for all fifteen other fellow travelers who were in attendance for this one, thanks. And props to DC, seriously. Cheers, my friend. Next Tuesday will be my last recap for 2021, and I hope to see you in the GDT. And all of you. It’s been a brutal year to be a Diamondbacks fan, but it’s been a pleasure to suffer through it with all of you. It’s been one of the primary joys of this gig in 2021. So thank you. Cheers.

Anyhow. There’s still two games left in this series with the Braves, so in theory we could take the last two and earn a series split. If you care to check in, Merrill Kelly takes the mound for the good guys tomorrow, facing off against Atlanta righty Ian Anderson. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 AZ time, same as tonight’s game. Hope you can join us.

As always, thanks for reading. And as always, go D-Backs!