Record: 3-6. Pace: 54-108. Change on 2021: 0.
It feels weird not to have a recap until the ninth game of the season. It's also odd to have seen little or nothing of the first eight contests: I simply had better things to do. Doesn't seem like I had missed all that much, after Seth Beer's walk-off on Opening Day: better than expected pitching, but an offense which redefined putrid. Coming into this game, Arizona had hit just .152 over their first 244 at-bats, and worse still with runners in scoring position (.106, 5-for-47). On the plus side, that augured well for a quick escape, as Mrs. SnakePit and I were off to see 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' this afternoon. Only one of the first eight contests had gone longer than 3:24, a trend I wanted to see continue.
The D-backs did their part in the first, despite Carson Kelly drawing a two-out walk, his first of the season. But Humberto Castellanos had to labor a bit through his half, walking the lead-off man. He should have escaped quicker, but for Ketel Marte being unable to handle a short-hop throw from Daulton Varsho on a stolen-base attempt, with the runner dead to rights. It was Varsho's first game of the year behind the plate (I'm not sure he even had one in spring), a result of the team trying to get as many right handers in there today. Daulton Varsho broke up the no-hitter - always looming the way Arizona have been hitting - in the second, but didn't move past first.
Castellanos was struggling to find the strike-zone, with only 11 of his first 27 pitches being strikes. He walked the lead-off hitter in the second too, but the breeze was blowing in, and that helped limit the damage. The Mets loaded the bases with two outs on two walks around a single, but got a pop-out to end the inning. Having needed 44 pitches to that point, it seemed likely to be another long day for the Diamondbacks bullpen. However, he had a 1-2-3 third, and Arizona then got their first man in scoring position, Kelly doubling to start the frame. Admittedly, it was very much more a case of Starling Marte losing an easy fly-ball in the sun, but when you are 0-for-19, you will take whatever you can.
Good news! The Diamondbacks got a hit with a runner in scoring position! Bad news! Never mind scoring the runner, it didn't even ADVANCE the runner, Pavin Smith legging out an infield hit on a slow roller to the left-hand side. Inevitably, Kelly was left on second. But Castellanos retired the Mets in order, to finish his day by setting down the last seven batters he faced. I'll take four scoreless innings any day from a reliever spot-start, especially after the first couple of frames. Humberto threw 71 pitches, allowing a hit and three walks with one strikeout.
The Mets' starter didn't last much longer, lifted after a one-out walk to Jake McCarthy in the top of the fifth. Ketel Marte singled one out later, but Kelly struck out to end the inning.. This is my first time really watching them, but what stood out is, the Arizona hitters seemed to be doing well at getting into hitters' counts, then let too many hittable pitches go past. See the screenshot below. Kyle Nelson and Noe Ramirez combined for another zero in the bottom half, with the help of a nifty play by Varsho on a popped-up bunt attempt. After the fifth, we were on pace for a 3:10 game, but things slowed considerably in the sixth.
It began with Christian Walker the lucky recipient of more Starling Marte defense. He got a bloop lead-off double that should have been an out (xBA on it was only .030). Pavin Smith advanced the runner with a groundout, but Varsho struck out and Kelly grounded out. As Jack mentioned in the GDT, the Dbacks haven't had a single hit with two outs and a RISP this year. Kelly's out made them 0-for-26 there this season. The Mets then took the lead. With a man on first (after a smart play by Geraldo Perdomo to swap a quick runner for a slow one), former D-back Eduardo Escobar blooped a double down the right-field line, and Pavin Smith airmailed his throw to second. The runner scored, and Escobar ended up on third.
The Diamondbacks turned to lefty Oliver Perez for the bottom of the sixth, making his seven hundredth major-league appearance. It wasn't one he will want to remember. He walked the first batter, then allowed an RBI single and a sacrifice fly. A weird, ultimately failed attempt to appeal the sac fly led to a stolen base when Perez had the runner dead to rights for the third out. He did finally escape without further damage, but it was an ugly frame, showcasing the lack of fundamentally sound baseball by Arizona in 2022. On the plus side: this inning sharply increased the odds of the game not having a bottom of the ninth, assisting my quick getaway.
After Arizona were retired meekly, Matt Peacock made his season debut in the seventh. He retired the first two batters on a total of three pitches. Sadly, the third out took 18 more, only coming after a walk and two hits, including a two-run homer which made it 5-0 to the Mets. Safe to say, after this unwelcome development, I was rooting for the team to phone in their PAs, and head off to catch the train down to Washington. Ketel Marte had the inconsiderate temerity to draw a lead-off walk in the eighth. Fortunately, the rest of the team got the memo, and ten pitches later, we were in the middle of the inning. Peacock needed only seven pitches for his three outs, bringing us to the ninth.
Varsho followed Marte with a lead-off walk, the fourth time Arizona had got their first batter aboard this afternoon. However, this one went no better than the previous three, Seth Beer striking out to end the contest, and extend the D-backs to 0-for-28 with two outs and runners in scoring position. Overall, the D-backs were 1-for-9 with RISP, which I guess does fractionally increase their average in this situation. The same goes for their BA overall, after going 5-for-32 today, a .156 average. Still, I got my wish, with the game finishing in a minute under three hours!
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Humberto Castellanos, +19.7%
Tomorrow Never Dies: Noe Ramirez, -21.6%%
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Hernandez, -13.8%; Varsho, -12.2%; Perez, -10.4%
Nothing in the way of Sedona Red comments. No great surprise, not an enormous amount to cheer about. It’s off to the nation’s capital. where Washington should hopefully provide a bit of an easier test for Arizona. Madison Bumgarner starts that one, and at least it’s not another morning start, with a first pitch at 4:05 pm, Arizona time.
With that, I hear Mrs. SnakePit revving the car in the driveway, so I’m outta here!