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Astros Pip Diamondbacks 2-1

Anemic offense and Melancon meltdown sink the Snakes

Houston Astros v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Record: 1-4, Pace: 32-130

A tight, well pitched, well played ballgame on defense was spoiled in the 9th inning when Diamondbacks closer Mark Melancon gave up the go ahead run to take the loss to the Astros, 2-1. While it will be tempting to focus on that 9th inning meltdown, the real story is the near total lack of offense.

The game started off with a two base error from Sergio Alcantara at 3rd. One out later starter Madison Bumgarner hit Alex Bregman but got a popout and hard lineout to center to escape that jam. He retired the side in order in the 2nd and 3rd, and worked around a couple of singles in 4th with no harm done. But in the 5th Madbum hung a curve to Jose Siri who wrecked the pitch over 450 feet to left center above the homerun porch. He was none too pleased with Siri’s bat flip and hopping around after the homer either.

That was the lone run given up by Bumgarner. He was efficient and his pitch count was under control. However there was a lot of hard contact and fly balls, with just 3 grounders. He gave up a double and a walk in the 6th and was pulled for Noe Ramirez who retired the side quickly to end the threat. After the game Madison said he was happy with his fastball and cutter, and he used them the great majority of the time. He couldn’t quite get the feel for the curve though.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks offense was doing their thing. Which so far this year, means nothing. Facing last year’s rookie of the year runner up Luis Garcia, they managed just two hits and two walks. Tonights mostly left hand lineup should have been able to do more against Garcia, who has big left-right splits.

David Peralta lead off the 4th inning with a double, but never moved up from there. Christian Walker flew out and Pavin Smith popped out. Seth Beer worked a tough walk, but Alcantara popped out to end that threat. They made Garcia work with 24 pitches in the 1st and 19 in the 4th, and got him out of the game early, but no runs crossed.

The D-backs finally got on the board in the 6th thanks to big fly to left from Walker, his 2nd HR of the year.

There were more chances after that homer. Pavin Smith walked and advanced to 3rd on two wild pitches from Astros reliever Blake Taylor, but Beer flew out and pinch hitter Cooper Hummel grounded out to leave him there.

In the top of the 9th Mark Melancon came into a tie game. Prior to that Noe Ramirez, J.B. Wendelken, Joe Mantiply, and Ian Kennedy combined for 3 innings of scoreless relief. Melancon got two quick outs. But he just couldn’t command his knuckle curve tonight. He left one hanging to Siri, who roped it into the right centerfield gap for a double. Melancon bounced a couple more in the dirt and walked Altuve. Finally Michael Brantley singled into left on a cutter for the go ahead and winning run.

The D-backs managed to get the tying run to 3rd in the 9th with two outs, but pinch hitter Carson Kelly flew out to end the game.

One bright spot was the defense of rookie Catcher Jose Herrera. He made a teriffic diving catch on a popped up bunt in foul territory in the 6th. In the 7th he nailed Siri by three feet trying to steal second base. His recorded pop time of 1.86 was the 2nd fasted in MLB so far this year.

As tempting as it is to hang Melancon out to dry, the offense went 4 for 30 tonight and their team batting average went UP. They are drawing a lot of walks, but just can’t come up with base hits. If you only score one run, the only way you can win is to throw a shutout. That’s not a reasonable expectation. There are certainly issues with Melancon. His velocity is still down two MPH and bouncing that curve has been a consistent problem. But it’s too early to write off his season.

They get another shot at the Astros tomorrow, game time 12:40 at Chase Field. It doesn’t get any easier for the bats, facing Framber Valdez. Merrill Kelly will go for the D-backs.

Win Probability Box Score from Fangraphs HERE

Bullpen Stalwarts: Noe Ramirez +.145 & Ian Kennedy +.104 lead from the pitching side.

Christian Walker +.088 . Making outs with runners on base in the 1st and 3rd dented his WPA from his homer.

Mark Melancon with a whopping -.307 , but Geraldo Perdomo managed -.213 and Kelly’s strikeout with tying run on 3rd registered -.158. It was a team effort though, as there were 7 other D-backs hitters with negative batting WPA

The comment of the night goes to MrRBI17. This is a win in anybody’s book.