Record: 18-18. Pace: 81-81. Change on 2021: +1.
So, we returned safely from Denver, after a pleasant long weekend at altitude. I was hoping to have a picture of me being savagely attacked by a plush Dinger, but regrettably, no such toy crossed my path. Indeed, it was a refreshingly baseball-free weekend, more focused on music and eating. Lots of eating. Nice to be back home though. Some of this evening's contest did have to be watched around an overly attached kitteh, who had clearly missed myself and Mrs. SnakePit during our absence. So if any details are a bit vague, it's because something was purring loudly in my face, or all I could see was catbutt. [Pic above is a good approximation]
After a quick first inning, Arizona took the lead on a Christian Walker home-run, leading off the second (above). It was his seventh homer of the season already, in his 35th game. That is a drastic improvement on last year, when Walker's seventh home-run did not come until August 27th, in his 87th game of the season. With the demotion of Seth Beer, and Pavin Smith now apparently a full-time outfielder (he hasn't played an inning at first this season), Walker's future on the team looks rather more secure than it did on Opening Day. He came in to tonight, second only to Daulton Varsho for position player bWAR on the team, and on pace for a 4-5 win season.
But otherwise, D-backs hitters struggled to solve Tony Gonsolin. He was pumping in strikes at a better than 70% rate, getting ahead in the count. The Dodgers' starter then used an effective combo of curveballs and a split-fingered fastball, which Arizona kept swinging over the top of. Through six innings, they had seven Ks, nine 0-2 counts, and the only hits apart from Walker's, were a pair of Ketel Marte bloops. That included a "double" leading off the fourth. Quotes used advisedly, since it was a pop-up which clanked off the glove of Justin Turner. Arizona were able to take advantage of that and another Dodgers gaffe, which put runners on the corners with no outs. Josh Rojas made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly, though no further success was found.
Madison Bumgarner looked good the first time through the Los Angeles order, allowing just one single - that, a squib shot the other way. However, the second time was problematic, with the Dodgers getting three hits and a walk. MadBum had to work out of trouble, after putting the first two on in the fourth, though was successful in so doing. The fifth, unfortunately... Not so much. He ended up throwing 36 pitches, as the Dodgers scored three runs on three hits and a pair of walks. Matters weren't helped by Alek Thomas committing a two-base error, a single going right through him to the wall. But all three runs were earned on MadBum's line. He went five innings, scattering six hits and two walks, getting just one strikeout.
With a double-header scheduled for tomorrow, it might have been nice to save the bullpen a little more. It was not to be. The Professor, Sean Poppen came off the injured list today, and made his first appearance. It did not go well. His first delivery resulted in an easy bunt single, and three pitches later, he surrendered a two-run homer, making the score 5-2 (and widening Arizona's starter/reliever ERA gap slightly further). He did escape without further damage, albeit needing a total of 29 pitches, probably taking him out of the equation for Tuesday. It looked like J.B. Wendelken was going the same way, after walking the first two batters he faced in the seventh. However, he retired the next three batters to keep it a three-run game.
Keynan Middleton worked a nine-pitch eighth despite a leadoff walk, thanks to a Mookie Betts TOOTBLAN. But with Craig Kimbrel and his 1.04 ERA entering the game, it seemed all hope was lost, especially after Christian Walker struck out on three straight fastballs. Yet the D-backs somehow ended up making a game of it. Josh Rojas got an infield hit, and David Peralta was then able get just enough on a pitch from Kimbrel, to get it over the fence in right field (above). Quite the contrast to Walker’s 407-ft shot, with an expected batting average of .960, Peralta’s fifth homer went 376 and had an xBA of only .320. Still, it brought Arizona within one swing of tying the game.
Geraldo Perdomo and Thomas were not able to make things any more interesting, though Torey Lovullo did everything he could to get the latter aboard, challenging a non-HBP on the first pitch of Thomas’s AB. That was turned down, and the D-backs’ record in one-run games fell back to 8-5, as their overall mark dropped to .500 again. Bumgarner took the L, becoming the first D-backs starter to lose since Humberto Castellanos on April 28. Diamondbacks’ pitchers walked six while striking out four - not typically a recipe for success. Marte had his two hits, while Walker and Peralta each drew a walk in addition to their home-runs. Every starter struck out at least once, and Arizona were 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position.
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
God Told Me To: Christian Walker: +19.1%
Heartbeeps: Madison Bumgarner, -18.6%
In God We Trust: Sean Poppen, -15.6%
Nothing got more than a couple of recs, so we’ll just move rapidly on, shall we? Hey, at least we stayed off the bottom of the NL West, thanks to the Giants beating the Rockies in (the recently departed from by me!) Denver, dropping Colorado back below .500. As far as the D-backs are concerned, it’s the first time they’ve lost three in a row since being swept in the Washington double-header on April 19. Things won’t get much easier tomorrow, with two more games against these Dodgers. Tyler Gilbert gets the call-up into the rotation to start the first game, which begins at 12:10 pm Arizona time.