Record: 18-20. Pace: Change on 2021: +1. Pace: 77-85.
Even before this evening’s nightcap of the double-header got under way, there was some worrying news with the late scratch of Ketel Marte. This was apparently due to “left hand soreness”, so we’ll see exactly how serious that ends up being. He had been rounding into form of late, after a slow start, so it’d hurt to lose him for any extended period. We’ll see what Torey Lovullo has to say after the game... In the light of subsequent events, I’m tempted to insert the recap equivalent of a record scratch, skip the entire recap and go straight to the Lovullo post-game comments. But I am nothing if not conscientious, so let’s prod the corpse of this one with a stick, shall we?
The top of the first began with two outs on five pitches. That included [sigh] a strikeout for Pavin Smith. After tonight, he now has 20 in 45 AB since May 3, a concerning issue. He hasn't looked good doing it either, and it remains a mystery why Torey Lovullo is batting him near the top of the order. However, offensive concerns were alleviated as Jordan Luplow and Christian Walker went back-to-back, giving Arizona a quick 2-0 lead. They were the fifth and ninth of the season respectively, and after Walker's home-run in the opener, he became the first D-back to go deep in both ends of a double-header since Luis Gonzalez on September 23, 2000.
Indeed, he had also homered in the series opener, giving him three HR in less than 24 hours. Walker therefore became the first Arizona batter this season to homer in three consecutive games. Last year, Daulton Varsho did it twice, Josh Rojas also did so, and Eduardo Escobar became the sixth player in team history to homer in four straight. However, we'd seen this script before. Arizona blew leads in the previous games thus series of 2-0 and 3-0, so it wasn't much of a shock when they did so again. The main surprise was how quickly it happened, the Dodgers tying the game against Merrill Kelly before an out was recorded.
Los Angeles scored on a walk, double and a two-run single, though fortunately the last saw the hitter thrown out at second. Kelly escaped further damage, but it was only a momentary respite. After the Diamondbacks were retired in order to start the second, Kelly walked the first two batters he faced. Both of them scored on a one-out double, but that was small beer(pun intended), compared to what followed. An intentional two-out walk to Freddie Freeman backfired as Los Angeles delivered an RBI single and a three-run homer. If you're scoring at home - and to be honest, I'd be quite impressed if you were still simply paying attention - that made it 8-2 to the Dodgers after two innings.
That ended Kelly’s night. He allowed five hits and four walks (all of which scored) with two Ks. The resulting Game Score of 11 has been undercut only twice by Arizona starters since the end of 2017. The worst (3) was by the man who came in to replace Kelly, Caleb Smith, starter in the infamous 22-1 beat down in this same park last July, and some people (waves at Jack!), were expecting the likes of that again. But Smith has been considerably better since being demoted after allowing nine earned runs in his first four innings. He tossed a scoreless inning this afternoon, and three, very much needed, scoreless frames tonight. Since his recall early thus month, Caleb has allowed one run over 9.2 innings, with a dozen strikeouts.
Meanwhile, the Arizona offense were getting hits - just not for extra bases or in bunches. The Diamondbacks actually ended up outhittinh the Dodgers 11-10 on the night. That included lead-off singles in the third, fifth and sixth innings, but they were only able to convert any of that into one PA with a man in scoring position, over seven innings from LA starter Tyler Anderson. Former Dodger Edwin Uceta came in after Smith, and was not as effective. He took 29 pitches for the sixth inning as the first three reached for Los Angeles, and all three scored, making it 11-2. Though he stranded two in scoring position, so I guess it could have been worse?
Uceta did only need seven pitches for a scoreless seventh, and Arizona finally got another PA with RISP in the eighth, after singles from Cooper Hummel and Pavin Smith. You will not be surprised to hear it did not go well. The visitors committed their third error of the night in the eighth, Josh Rojas adding to previous ones by Hummel and Geraldo Perdomo. This one cost Ucete an unearned run, and keeps the D-backs just one behind the Nationals for most errors in the majors this year, having committed 31 through 38 games. The Dodgers felt secure enough to send up a position player for the ninth, and the Diamondbacks did manage to get a run on a couple of hits, before the evening came mercifully to a close.
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
I Feel Love: Christian Walker: +10.3%
Bad Girls: Merrill Kelly, -56.2%
Hummel, Walker and Alek Thomas each picked up two hits. If Kelly’s WP of -56.2% is confirmed by the Baseball Reference figure, it’ll be the worst by an Arizona starter since Zach Godley achieved -57.6% in August 2018. [The all-time worst is -68.6% by Russ Ortiz in 2005] I was informed after my last recap that “COTD is dead,” so I guess that’s one less thing I have to do going forward. But thanks to Snake_Bitten for suggesting the recap title, on the tenth anniversary of Donna Summer’s passing.
Hey, at least we’re still ahead of the Rockies. The D-backs will attempt to avoid the sweep tomorrow afternoon, though in Walker Buehler, they probably have the toughest assignment of the series in terms of opposing starters. On the plus side, it can’t go much worse than tonight. On the plus-plus side, I don’t have to write the recap. The D-backs will send up Zach Davies, whose wife recently went VERY public regarding their imminent divorce. Ouch.