Tonight we had Zac Gallen’s first start without a hard pitch count since he got back from his most recent stint on the IL. According to tonight’s preview, Torey Lovullo and company have decided that Gallen’s stamina is back up to full, and they want to get him as many innings of work as possible between now and season’s end. Which is cool. He faced off tonight against Rangers rando Spencer Howard, who started the game for Texas but was extremely limited due to his recent return from the covid IL.
Things went quite well for Zac through the first three innings, as he faced the minimum plus one and set Texas down with no runs and no hits, needing only 36 pitches to do so. The only blemish was a one-out grounder that Josh VanMeter, playing third base tonight, clanged on for an error. But no harm was done.
Unfortunately, Spencer Howard retired the Diamondbacks in order through his two innings of work, allowing no baserunners and throwing few pitches than Gallen. He gave way, though, in the bottom of the third, to righthander Jordan Lyles, who I believe was originally penciled as the Rangers’ starter. Daulton Varsho, playing in right field (?!) tonight, greeted him with a leadoff single to right, and pretty much immediately stole second. Nick Ahmed, batting eighth per usual against a right-handed starter, drew a walk, bringing up the pitcher’s spot. Gallen did his job admirably, laying down a picture-perfect sacrifice bunt that allowed both runners to advance a base. This turned the lineup over, and Josh Rojas flew out to left in foul territory, but the ball carried deep enough to allow Varsho to tag and score from third:
Ketel Marte then walked, but VanMeter grounded out to second to cut the brief appearance of the offense short. Still, we’d at least drawn first blood. 1-0 D-BACKS
Much to the dismay of many of us in the Gameday Thread, Gonzo was in the booth with Steve on the Bally broadcast, and as the top of the fourth came around, he was nattering incessantly about how essential it was that Gallen come out and throw a “shutdown inning,” now that the offense had given him a very slim lead. Alas, that didn’t happen. I don’t mean to imply that Gonzo jinxed things, but....well, who’s to say?
Anyhow. Gallen, just into his second time through the Rangers’ order, gave up a leadoff single to Rangers shortstop Yonny Hernandez, who then stole second on the third strike of the next Rangers AB. Gallen then surrendered two more singles, back to back, to Rangers right fielder DJ Peters and Rangers second baseman Nick Solak. The Peters single scored Hernandez, and then, one out later, another single scored Peters and Solak. A double followed, but finally Gallen was able to retire Lyles, the pitcher, to end the pain. But a shutdown inning it definitely was not. 3-1 Texas
And, sad to say, that was pretty much it, at least in terms of action. Pavin Smith hit a two-out triple that bounced to the wall in right center in the bottom of the fourth, and then hit a one-out single to left in the seventh, but those were the only two hits (or baserunners) the Diamondbacks managed the rest of the way.
Gallen, on the other hand, righted the ship after his unsightly and costly fourth inning, retiring the first six batters in the Texas lineup in order in the fifth and sixth, and pitched into the seventh. He actually went fairly deep, recording the first two outs around a Nick Ahmed fielding error, before surrendering a single to right to Texas leadoff hitter and center fielder Leody Taveras that finally earned him the hook. His final line was not fantastic, but ultimately not all that bad: 62⁄3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, and 8 K with 108 pitches thrown. That’s certainly not vintage, top-of-his-game Gallen, but it was good enough to keep us in it, minimize the necessity of using our terrible bullpen, and give us a fighting chance. He gave up the runs that decided it, but to my mind, this loss is not on him; it’s on the offense, pure and simple.
For us, Caleb Smith recorded the final out in the top of the seventh and retired the heart of the Rangers’ lineup in order in the eighth, in what is likely to be our last Caleb Smith sighting before he undertakes a league-mandated 10-game unpaid vacation (his sticky-substance appeals hearing was today), and then Noe Ramirez pitched a clean top of the ninth, which was nice. As noted above, though, the offense did NOTHING in support of the team, and that 3-1 score wound up being the final.
One happy note: the game was brisk, with only 2 hours and 46 minutes elapsing between first pitch and final out. So that, at least, was nice. I was tired when I got home from work, and am even more tired now, and it looks like I’ll actually get to bed before midnight now. Thanks, Diamondbacks!
Win Probability Added, Courtesy of FanGraphs
F-16: Pavin Smith (2-3, 1 3B, +6.6% WPA)
A-10 Warthog: Josh VanMeter (0-4, 1 E, -12.3% WPA)
It was an understandably sparse Gameday Thread tonight (at least given what I’ve gotten used to on Tuesdays), especially given the desultory offensive performance and consequent lack of really any attendant drama or excitement. Eighteen brave souls contributed 182 comments. DC and Nik led the way with 51 and 29 respectively. All present and accounted for were: AzDbackfanInDc, Dano_in_Tucson, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Schilling2001, Smurf-1000, Snacks&Dbacks, Snake_Bitten, kilnborn, since_98, therealramona
Despite that, we did have three different comments turn Sedona Red, and while Jack’s got the most recs (7), I think I’m going with Nik’s (6), as it was by far the most directly relevant to this particular game and how it was going, rather than a broader though spot-on observation about things that might be far more appealing than watching bad baseball in a hotel room. So here it is, your comment of the game:
Anyway, feel free to join us tomorrow to see if we can salvage a split in this tiny two-game series versus the Rangers. Texas righthander Kohei Arihara faces off against newly healthy and perhaps resurgent Luke Weaver. This is a getaway day game, so first pitch is slated for 3:40pm AZ time. Be there or be.....square? Sane? Sensible? Non-masochistic? I’ll let you choose and adopt your own adjective....I’m not here to judge.
As always, thanks for reading. As always, go D-Backs! Cheers.