Record: 3-7. Pace: 49-113. Change on 2021: -1.
If you’ve watched many Diamondbacks games this year - and to be honest, I probably can’t put myself in that category - you’ll be aware of the number of fluffed plays which have taken place. Perhaps for the first time this year, that kind of thing may have been a factor in the difference between defeat and victory. Ketel Marte dropped a fly-ball, leading to a two-run fifth inning for Washington, which turned an Arizona lead into a deficit. However, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen later rendered that largely irrelevant: J.B. Wendelken, Oliver Perez and Matt Peacock combined to allow four runs over their three innings of work.
If there’s a positive, it’s that the team continues to get good starting pitching: five innings from Madison Bumgarner without any earned runs, lowered their rotation ERA to 2.66 (and that includes Caleb Smith’s one inning start). But the Arizona offense remained as stagnant as they have been over the first three series. However, they did take the lead on the first hit of the game for either side, which came in the top of the third, and also led to the first run of the game. Daulton Varsho deposited the ball 406 ft just the right of center, ambushing a first-pitch fastball for his second home-run of the year.
After only needing 20 pitches for the first two innings, Madison Bumgarner opened up the bottom of the third with a 10-pitch walk. However, that runner was erased (and the pitch count kept down), courtesy of an ill-advised attempt to steal third with two outs. He was initially called safe, but the call was overturned on appeal - manager Torey Lovullo’s first usage of a challenge this season (it only left three managers as challenge-less in 2022: Dusty Baker, Craig Counsell and Tony La Russa). The umpires are now wired up, so the announcement of the result is audible to everyone in the park, which was interesting to hear.
The Diamondbacks were then polite enough to repay the Nationals for their TOOTBLAN, by also having a runner thrown out trying to steal third. David Peralta led off the top of the fourth with a double, but one out later was nailed trying to take 90 feet. It was especially unfortunate, as this play was followed by a walk to Cooper Hummel and a single off the bat of Jake McCarthy, However, Sergio Alcantara struck out swinging, as the D-backs’ futility with runners in scoring position continued. They entered this game batting .107 in that situation, having gone 6-for-56 with 26 strikeouts. Add to that, 0-for-2 with a pair of K’s in the fourth inning.
Bumgarner seemed to having trouble with his mechanics. Just as in the Opening Day against San Diego, where his control suddenly evaporated in the third, he walked back-to-back Washington hitters to start the bottom of the fourth. 10 of his first 12 pitches in the frame were balls. However, after a mound visit from Brent Strom, a ground ball to Alcantara allowed him to step on third base and throw over to first, completing a much-needed double-play. A strikeout completed the recovery, ending the threat. MadBum also struck out the first two in the fifth, and should have been out of the inning except for Ketel Marte dropping a pop fly (below) - their MLB-leading 10th error of the year.
Bad Beat Alert— BetSided (@BetSided) April 19, 2022
Diamondbacks F5 (+120) bettors look away...
Ketel Marte's error leads to Nats taking the leadpic.twitter.com/XIib8k3ddJ
This latest failure in the area of fundamentally sound baseball proved costly, as the next two batters for Washington both lined doubles into left-field. Rather than the D-backs being back in the dugout, the first tied the game, scoring a man who should never have been on base, then the second gave the Nationals the lead. The former also ended Bumgarner’s streak: he had recorded 38 consecutive double-header outs without a hit, the last knock coming in St. Louis on June 1, 2013. He escaped the inning without further issue, then the D-backs stranded their own runner in scoring position, with a Seth Beer double being left there - albeit with the help of some questionable calls from home-plate umpire Nestor Ceja.
That was the end of Bumgarner’s day. He went five innings, allowing a pair of unearned runs on two hits and four walks, with five strikeouts. The Diamondbacks’ bullpen immediately ran into trouble of their own in the seventh. J.B. Wendelken gave up back-to-back singles to the first two batters faced. He then gave himself a chance of escaping, as the next man sent a soft liner back to the mound, allowing the runner on first to be doubled off. But a broken-bat single back up the middle brought the man on second home, giving the Nationals a 3-1 lead. While he did work a scoreless seventh inning, the Arizona offense was still struggling to get out of the gates.
Pavin Smith did come off the bench to hit for Gerardo Perdomo, and drew a walk. However, Varsho hit into a double-play, taking care of the runner before it could even get into scoring position. Oliver Perez then came in, and the Nationals got a pair of free base-runners, on a hit by pitch and catcher’s (alleged) interference - officially recorded as Arizona’s 11th error, though frankly I’d not believe Nestor today, if he said the sky was blue. Both of those gifts came around to score on a single and sacrifice fly, as well as another run, after Perez was replaced by Matt Peacock.
The D-backs came into this game having outscored their opponents 12-3 after the eighth inning, but trailing 9-38 through the front eight. They had the chance to pad those stats in the ninth, after singles by Peralta and Beer gave them an RISP situation with no outs in the ninth. But Hummel, McCarthy and Alcantara all made outs, leaving Arizona 0-for-6 in that category, and now hitting below a buck, at .097 (6-for-62). They ended, as Jack mentioned, with more errors committed (2) than runs scored (1), even if they did at least get more hits (6) than walks (3). Though strikeouts (12) were well in advance of just about any other stat.
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Scotland: Pavin Smith, +6.6%
Siberia: Cooper Hummel + Sergio Alcantara, -8.0%
Comment of the thread (in the new, blue - hopefully temporary! - style) to VW Beetle:
We’ll be back shortly with the second game of the double-header, due to start just after 4 pm Arizona time. Tyler Gilbert takes the mound for that.