Baseball snuck up to a lot of people, with a lockout dominating most of the baseball news in 2022 and a truncated Spring Training leaving little build-up for the season. I actually prefer the abrupt start, as baseball dominates the year as no other sport does. And despite positive news coming out of the spring for D-backs team and players, Game 1 saw last year’s terrible performance leak into 2022, but all it takes is a change, and the D-backs proved it in the 9th. Maybe this season will be different.
Madison Bumgarner made his Chase Field Opening Day debut, as he had made the previous three starts (two as a D-back) against the Padres in San Diego. Much has been made known about his uptick in velocity over the Spring, consistently above 90mph, and was excellent in his final start, pitching five scoreless innings. Pitching for the Padres was Yu Darvish, who struggled in his first season as a Padre, but had himself an excellent Spring as well, pitching to a 2.38 ERA across 3 starts.
Bumgarner was excellent to begin his season, needing 10 pitches for 3 quick flyouts. Darvish matched him in the bottom half, working around a Peralta walk to shut down the D-backs. The second saw another scoreless inning from both pitchers, with Bumgarner working around a 2-out double and Darvish continuing his scoreless stuff.
The 3rd saw the Padres breakthrough, as Ha-Seong Kim led off with a walk, but it looked like Bumgarner would escape with no damage, as two outs moved the runner to 3rd. But it wasn’t in the cards as Madison would walk not one, not two, but three straight batters to push a run across thanks to Voit’s walk. Wil Myers struck out but the Padres took a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately for the D-backs, Darvish was ready to go in this one. With an array of fastballs, splitters, and curveballs, he held the D-backs hitless through 6 innings as the team couldn’t do much of anything at the plate. Thankfully, he’d exit after that, allowing 4 walks, 3 strikeouts, and leaving with a no-hitter.
Luke Weaver made his first appearance in the bullpen for the D-backs following his demotion from the starting rotation and like Bumgarner in the 3rd, almost escaped his trouble after Profar singled with 1-out. But both Grisham and Nola singled to drive home Profar, extending the Padres lead to 2-0.
After Weaver, the bullpen was solid, not allowing a hit across 5 1/3rds innings. Big props to Poppen, Perez, Ramirez, and Mantiply to give the offense a chance. And it only took the D-backs until the 9th to finally realize they were playing in a game that matters.
Robert Suarez came on in relief, making his MLB debut after a couple of years in the Japan League. His last year was excellent, saving 42 games and a 1.16 ERA leading the Padres to sign him to a 2 year, $10 million contract. Melvin made him his closer and in a 2-0 ballgame, he made his first appearance.
He immediately could not find the strike zone. Despite throwing gas, he threw 7 straight balls before his first strike, allowing Walker and Pavin to reach base on walks. Kelly immediately disregarded that information, going down 0-2 but fought back, eventually getting hit by a pitch to load the bases. And before you knew it, Suarez’s day was over. Craig Stammen came on and his first pitch was a spiked curveball, allowing Walker to score and trimming the lead to 2-1. With first base open and a 1 run lead, Melvin should’ve walked DH Seth Beer. Even with hindsight, it’s an easy decision as it sets up force plays all over the diamond. But he didn’t and Beer delivered on National Beer Day.
Walkoff homer, 4-2 Diamondbacks.
Despite the theatrics, Christian Walker led the team in WPA thanks to the leadoff walk despite an 0 for 3 performance. Beer came in 2nd place at +.249 after his 2 for 4 with the homer.
Comment of the thread goes to Red Reign, who summed it all up on this blessed Opening Day.
First pitch for tomorrow’s game is at 6:40pm. Stop on by.