So I will admit, I didn’t actually manage to witness the end of this one, as I seem to have dozed off on the couch for about half an hour while Tyler Clippard was pitching the bottom of the eighth for us. It had already been a long day, so my apologies. Didn’t matter, though, as the score was 6-4 San Francisco when my eyelids grew too heavy, and so it was when I roused myself again.
Lemme tell you how it started, because this was one that felt like we were losing by the end of the first inning (which we were, in fact), but which didn’t get out of hand until much later. We faced off against Giants right hander Logan Webb, who’s been very good this year for SF but whom we haven’t actually faced in 2021. Josh Rojas and Ketel Marte saw six pitches each from Webb to start the game, but wound up sitting down thanks to a grounder to first and then a swinging strikeout respectively. Daulton Varsho, on the sixth pitch of his AB, reached on an infield single to short, but Kole Calhoun flew out to Kris Bryant in left to end things. We hung 25 pitches in all on Webb in the top of the first, though, so that seemed good.
Luke Weaver took the mound for us in the bottom of the inning, and struck out the first two batters he faced, only needing eight pitches to do so. He was looking good, he was looking fine, he was throwing fastball after fastball and he was hitting 97 on the radar gun. Honestly, he nearly broke my mind.
Then Buster Posey stepped to the plate, and Weaver got ahead of him 1-2. Buster Posey, though, who I’ve been led to understand is actually pretty good at this crazy game of baseball, worked the count full over the next six pitches, before sending the ninth pitch he saw to the wall in left for a two-out double. That seemed to break Weaver, who began nibbling, and failing at it, as he walked Brandon Crawford, Kris Bryant, and Mike Yastrzemski in succession to score Posey and bring his pitch count from 8 to 36. He finally, mercifully, got Evan Longoria to strike out looking for the third out after five more pitches, but we were already down, and despite that promising start Weaver had managed to notch a 41-pitch bottom of the first. 1-0 San Francisco
Doo wah diddy diddy dum diddy doo. Yeah.
Webb, meanwhile, settled down in the top of the second, setting David Peralta, Pavin Smith and Josh VanMeter down in order on a mere 13 pitches. To be fair, Weaver settled down as well, setting down the Giants in order in the bottom half.
Somewhat remarkably, we got the lost run back in the top of the third, as Jake McCarthy, tonight’s center fielder and the only real bright spot the entire night, led off the inning with a single to center. While facing Weaver at the plate, Webb then made a pickoff throw to first that Giants’ first baseman and Brandon Belt (IL-broken thumb) stand-in LaMonte Wade, Jr. failed to catch, resulting in a two-base error that got McCarthy to third. Josh Rojas then lofted a fly ball deep enough to left that McCarthy was able to tag and score. 1-1 TIE
Then, for awhile, nothing much happened. Weaver pitched around a one-out Posey single in the third, and a leadoff Mike Yastrzemski double and a one-out Steven Duggar walk in the fourth, but no further damage was done. Similarly, despite the bottom middle of our lineup loading the bases in the bottom of the fourth thanks to Kole Calhoun and Pavin Smith singles sandwiched around a David Peralta walk, we got nothing thanks to an inning-ending Josh VanMeter grounder that resulted in a double play.
Caleb Smith relieved Weaver to start the fifth—a 41-pitch first inning will end your night early, no surprise there—and put up a zero, though he was wild and a bit sloppy, issuing a leadoff walk to Wade and a two-out single to Bryant. Webb, meanwhile, made it through the bottom of the fifth, despite giving up a lead-off walk to McCarthy, as he retired the next three batters he faced with successive groundouts on the infield.
So then Sean Poppen took the mound for the bottom of the frame and, well, the wheels came off. It began with a Josh Rojas error on an Evan Longoria grounder that put the leadoff batter on first base. Rojas sorta redeemed himself on the next play later by chasing down a Duggar pop fly that drifted out into shallow left center that he caught on the outfield grass in an impressive display of range. Poppen then hit Alex Dickerson, on to pinch-hit for Webb, putting runners on first and second. This turned the San Francisco lineup over for Giants second baseman Tommy LaStella, who singled to shallow right, loading the bases. Former Diamondback Wilmer Flores then pinch-hit for Wade, for whatever reason, and hit his own single to right, scoring Longoria and keeping the bases loaded. Posey then drew the second Giants’ bases-loaded walk of the night, plating Dickerson.
This earned Poppen the hook, and Joe Mantiply came out of the bullpen to face Brandon Crawford. Crawford promptly hit another single to right, driving in some dude who was pinch-running for LaStella and keeping the bases loaded. Mantiply then recorded the second out of the inning on a Kris Bryant grounder to first that Pavin Smith threw home, forcing Flores at the plate. Mantiply, however, then uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Posey to score and the other runners to advance a base. Finally, finally, finally, he got Yastrzemski to ground out to Ketel Marte for the third out of the inning, but nine batters had come to the plate, and four runs were in. If you’d had “fielding error, hit by pitch, bases loaded walk, and run-scoring wild pitch” on your bad bullpen bingo card for that inning, though, you would have come up aces. 5-1 San Francisco
We did manage to get one run back in the top of the seventh, thanks to your one video highlight of the night, courtesy of Jake McCarthy, who did this with two outs in the top of that frame:
Impressive bit of hitting....I honestly haven’t been terribly wowed by McCarthy since he was called up, but I very much liked what I saw from him tonight. He’s fast, he’s got some fairly serious power, and he fields his position well. So. 5-2 San Francisco
Of course, another stellar participant in our bullpen promptly gave the run back in the bottom of the inning, as Brett deGeus took the ball and allowed the first three batters he faced to reach thanks to a double, a single, and another hit batsman that loaded the bases. Then, for the second inning in a row, a Diamondbacks reliever uncorked a wild pitch that allowed a runner to score. Nice job, Brett 6-2 San Francisco
We still weren’t quite done making a little bit of noise. Sound and fury, ultimately signifying nothing, but well, it is what it is. It’s been a Scottish play kind of year, really. Josh Rojas led off the top of the eighth with a double down the right field line off whoever had the mound at that point for the Giants (I’ll be honest, I’d stopped keeping track of all the substitutions, especially on the San Francisco side, by this point). Ketel Marte then drew a walk, but was retired at second on a Varsho infield grounder that wasn’t hard-hit enough to be a double play. Calhoun then singled to left, scoring Rojas and advancing Varsho to third. David Peralta then hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Varsho. Ildemaro Vargas, who had come on at some point or other earlier (wasn’t really keeping track anymore of our offensive substitutions either, sorry...it had been a long day, and it’s been a long season, what else can I say?), then struck out, as he often does, to end the little mini-rally. Sound and fury, cf. above. 6-4 San Francisco
And that was pretty much that. Tyler Clippard pitched the bottom of the eighth, and I fell asleep after he’d retired Posey on a grounder to second and then walked Crawford, who promptly stole second. According to the box score and attendant play-by-play record, Clippard didn’t have any more trouble thereafter, which was nice for him. Sadly, however, neither did the Giants, as we wasted a one-out Geraldo Perdomo (also in the game at this point) double, thanks to Carson Kelly flying out to center and Josh Rojas striking out swinging to end the game.
Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs
Good: Jake McCarthy (2 AB, 2 H, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 HR, +18.6% WPA)
Bad: Sean Poppen (1⁄3 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, —33.0% WPA)
For such a non-competitive baseball game, we had a remarkably well-populated Gameday Thread, with 19 lovely folks contributing 284 comments. Jack and Justin led the way with 46 and 40 comments respectively. All present and accounted for were: AzRattler, Blind Squirrel has found his nut, Dano_in_Tucson, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Justin27, KJKrug, Makakilo, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Snacks&Dbacks, Snake_Bitten, Xerostomia, azdbacksfan1, kilnborn, makattack71, therealramona
Comments of the Game go to Diamondhacks and Snake_Bitten, who posted these more or less contemporaneously and which speak effectively and amusingly to the same unfortunate bullpen phenomenon:
Join us tomorrow night, if you have the intestinal fortitude to do so, as 2021 staff “ace” Merrill Kelly takes the mound against Giants lefty Alex Wood. First pitch is 6:45pm AZ time, just as it was today, so at least the scheduling will not be complicated.
And thus concludes my last recap of 2021. I cannot say that watching the Diamondbacks has been a particular joy or pleasure this year, but I have derived an awful lot of joy and pleasure from spending my Tuesday evenings with you all. Thank you so much. Being a Diamondbacks fan hasn’t been easy this year, but sharing the pain and the occasional delight with you all has been truly brilliant and awesome. Only five more games to go, and then onward to 2022!
As always, thanks for reading, and as always, go D-Backs!