There is not much left to say that has not already been uttered by myself and other recappers. I sadly take solace in the fact that I am writing my last recap of the 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks’ season. As much of a struggle as it has been to watch and write about, I have thoroughly enjoyed the community discussions held here.
This season feels different than the 2004 Diamondbacks’ season for this fan. I have told this story a handful of times. That year is when the twelve year old me became as obsessed with MLB as I am now. I dropped my superficial childhood fandom of the Boston Red Sox, who would go on to win their first World Series in 86 years, and became awestruck in how awful the Arizona Diamondbacks were. I could not stop watching every game that season despite how bad they were. I watched every pitch of Randy Johnson’s perfect game in Atlanta against the Braves. I remember Richie Sexson’s massive home run at Bank One Ballpark only to see him injured a few games later. I was excited by an emerging Brandon Webb, an ace in the making.
This season admittedly has been quite the struggle in keeping me interested, although I did watch Tyler Gilbert’s no hitter intently. The D’backs did not start this season as a terrible team. I defended the quality of their roster on a radio broadcast in April before the wheels fell off. I was realistic about their potential going into the season assuming that they would finish slightly below .500. That would have been far easier to consume than this year’s product. Although this season has been terrible for the team, and I do not expect rapid improvement to contention for the next few seasons, I do not think the blame is appropriately placed completely on Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo. Mike Hazen is completing his fifth season with the club while understandably caring for his wife and family at home. When he came aboard, the state of the team was in far worse shape than it is today. Quite honestly I am tired of seeing a revolving door of managers and general managers. Baseball is a slog whether it is three and a half hour games, one hundred and sixty two game seasons, or building a solid foundation over multiple seasons. It does not happen over night, and he needs to be given an opportunity to continue to build this organization in his vision from top to bottom before his work can accurately be assessed.
Do not get me wrong, losing players like Paul Goldschmidt, Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, Eduardo Escobar, J.D. Martinez, and Patrick Corbin hurts like hell. Some of those players have moved on to great heights such as competing in and winning a World Series. It is also true that some of them have seen their performance drop off since leaving the D’backs which will likely continue as they age. I am not foolish enough to think that it would have been possible to keep all of them without substantial financial strain down the road, but it still would have been nice for ownership to demonstrate a little bit more effort on that front. But looking backwards and wondering what could have been gets us nowhere. Just like 2004 the next core is coming and the team has to build for the future because there will inevitably be another young player and entire teams that captivate us.
There is not much of substance for me to narrate in regards to tonight’s game itself. That is the nature of a three hour, one run game between the best and worst teams in the league. Merrill Kelly made the start for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the San Francisco Giants tonight, his sixth against them this season. Despite giving up only three hits and no runs over five innings, his pitch count almost prevented him from making it past the third inning. Two very high pitch counts in those innings had him approaching eighty pitches upon the conclusion of the third. In the first three innings, he allowed at least two baserunners, three in the third, and walked multiple Giants in the first and third. However, he should be praised for keeping the Giants off the board regardless. After those innings, Kelly briskly worked through the fourth and fifth innings allowing only a single to Buster Posey in the fifth. With his pitch count at 96, Kelly plead his case to Lovullo to go back out for the sixth inning but was denied the opportunity.
Alex Wood was his opponent on the mound and was far more effective at keeping Diamondbacks hitters off the basepaths. The San Francisco infield rolled up two double plays behind him, one in the second and one in the third, to keep Arizona scoreless. Quite honestly, the Diamondbacks never mounted much of a scoring threat at all in this game other than the third inning. In that frame, Jake McCarthy was hit by a pitch and Geraldo Perdomo singled to right field to put the first two runners on with no outs. A quick Merrill Kelly strikeout and Ketel Marte double play squashed that opportunity.
The Giants manufactured the lone run of the game in the seventh inning against Noe Ramirez. Tommy La Stella took a pinch hit appearance for the pitcher to begin that inning and singled to right field. Speedster Steven Duggar pinch ran for him and promptly stole second base. LaMonte Wade Jr. unselfishly bunted him over to third base, and Kris Bryant drove him in with a sacrifice fly to right field. Speed kills.
Arizona’s only noteworthy play came on defense in the bottom of the eighth inning. Tyler Clippard gave up back to back two out singles. He then nearly gave up a three run home run to Steven Duggar, but was saved by Daulton Varsho with this incredible catch:
And that was all she wrote. San Francisco hung on for the one run victory.
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Jack is referring to tonight’s Giants closer, Camilo Doval who has shuttled back and forth between the Giants big league team and minor league system multiple times this year. The comment speaks to another general frustration of this team. The play development system has to improve dramatically for the Arizona Diamondbacks to have sustained success.
As always, I want to thank Jim for giving me yet another opportunity to write weekly recaps here. I hardly feel like I deserve it, so I appreciate his continued willingness to let me attempt to string together coherent sentences here. Also, I am grateful for the continued participation for the community of commenters here. We are all psychos for toughing this season out. Make an effort to meet some of the members here in person at a game. You will not regret it.
It is impossible for me to confirm that I will be back to recap full time next season, assuming that Jim is kind enough to give me the opportunity again. The reality is that I am entering the next stage of my life and am eager to start a family. That would make it difficult for me to dedicate three and a half hours of intently watching a game in order to spend a few more hours attempting to bring the community a quality recap on a weekly basis. That does not mean I would not be willing to write in some capacity. Admittedly, recapping has been difficult on all of us this season with or without a family. Perhaps it is just an opportunity for me to switch up my roles here at the Snake Pit. Until next time, friends. Thank you for reading.