Record: 20-21. Pace: 79-83. Change on 2021: +2.
Hello. Yes, it’s me again, with my third recap of the week, and as I start this one, I am hoping it proves more successful than the two from Los Angeles on Monday and Tuesday night. It is shaping up to be a windy day in Chicago, blowing straight out to center field. This is a pitcher’s definition of hell on earth, and not far off a recapper’s one too,. For those are not exactly conditions conducive to a crisply played, sub-three hour game. Free tacos seemed more likely to be on the menu tomorrow, potentially for both teams. And perhaps a recap going up sometime on Saturday morning.
Right out of the gate, that appeared an accurate fear. Arizona jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, showing good plate discipline against Cubs’ starter Kyle Hendricks. Daulton Varsho reached on a swinging bunt, and with two outs, Christian Walker and David Peralta both walked to load the bases. Chicago might have been forgiven for thinking they had Arizona just where they want them, considering the D-backs had just one hit (1-for-19) with ducks on the pond all season. However, new call-up Jake McCarthy had clearly not got the memo, banging the first pitch he saw back into center (above) for a two-run knock.
Unfortunately, Peralta was thrown out trying to take an extra base on the play, making the last out of the inning at third, after the throw skittered past the fielder there. It seemed not a bad idea, just poorly executed. Arizona then squandered another good scoring chance in the top of the next frame. Alek Thomas blooped one into the Bermuda Triangle in shallow left-center and ended up on second. He was bunted to third, where the traditional failure with RISP left him stranded there. As Jack pointed out in the Gameday Thread, this has been another particular point of pain for the offense:
MLB avg B.A. with runner on 3rd and two outs: .235— Jack Sommers (@shoewizard59) May 20, 2022
Diamondbacks are 5 for 53 , .095 in this situation.
After cruising through the first five batters and getting ahead 0-2 of the sixth, Humberto Castellanos melted down. We got perhaps the first taste of the conditions, with a home-run that ended up traveling 423 feet. Castellanos then allowed a double, game-tying RBI single, wild pitch and a walk before finally getting the third out of the inning at the fifth attempt. Undaunted, Arizona struck back immediately, getting solo home-runs from Josh Rojas and David Peralta in the top of the third, to re-establish that two-run lead. Castellanos settled down with a 1-2-3 bottom half, but allowed another two-out home-run in the fourth, to make the score 4-3 to the Diamondbacks after four innings.
The fifth became a case of, to quote a classic Yogi-ism, “Deja vu, all over again.” For Rojas and Peralta both went deep again: the former with a two-run shot, the latter with a solo shot. Amusingly, Josh’s home-run came just as we were grumbling after he’d singled to left, only for it to be ruled a no-pitch by the 1B umpire, as somebody had called time. That took us to the half-way point in the game, with a total of six home-runs already: four for the D-backs and two for the Cubs. The Rojas/Peralta double was the first time since June 10, 2019 that two Diamondbacks had enjoyed multi-homer games in the same contest. There, it was Eduardo Escobar and Ildemaro Vargas: the latter started for the Cubs today.
That game also set a franchise record of 8 HR, and it was becoming rapidly clear that victory today would got to the team which avoided putting unnecessary runners on base, and also could generate outs by methods that did not involve fly-balls. For through the seventh inning, home-runs outnumbered fly-ball outs by a 10-5 margin. Alek Thomas got in on the fun with Arizona’s fifth HR of the game in the sixth, to give the D-backs an 8-3 lead. Though given the conditions, that still felt like a closer contest than was comfortable. Castellanos managed to navigate through 5.1 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts - a thoroughly admirable effort, all things considered.
But, wait! There’s more! For Josh Rojas became the 13th Diamondback to hit three or more home-runs in a game, and the first since A.J. Pollock on April 30th 2018. Concerns about the margin proved valid, as the Cubs hit back-to-back home-runs off Caleb Smith in the seventh, after he had tidied up the end of the sixth. This was followed by a single and a walk, and Smith was replaced by Noe Ramirez. He walked the first batter he faced on four straight pitches, which meant that the Cubs suddenly had the tying run at the plate, after coming into the inning, down by six runs. Wrigley Field was so loud, it seemed Ramirez couldn’t hear the PitchCom signals from his catcher, Grayson Greiner.
He eventually prevailed, getting a swinging strikeout to leave the bases loaded, and keep the score at 9-5 as we headed into the eighth. Arizona lasted only six pitches, though Ramirez responded with a 1-2-3 inning of his own (albeit with McCarthy taking a circus route for the final out!), maintaining the four-run lead. Rojas came up to lead off the ninth, with a shot at a four-HR game - and having improved his OPS by a cool 279 points. While he went down looking at strike three, Christian Walker delivered the D-backs’ seventh - all can be seen in the reel above - and the game’s eleventh. It pushed the team into double-digit runs for the first time since exactly one month ago, in Washington. Roll on June 20th, I guess!
Professor Sean Poppen came in for the ninth, and that 10-5 lead still seemed fragile, in a way reminiscent of Coors Field. It became all the more so after Poppen walked the first two batters faced. It did help that Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras had got himself tossed out of the game earlier, after arguing balls and strikes, and his replacement Yan Gomes, became the first out. A sacrifice fly brought the Cubs back to slam range, though I think we were all happy enough to trade a run for an out. A nice play by Geraldo Perdomo was good enough to end this one, and bring the Diamondbacks back within a game of .500.
Arizona had 12 hits all told, seven of which left the park. The final tally of home-run distances today was 4,410 feet, or 0.84 miles. Rojas had three hits, as noted, with Peralta, McCarthy and Thomas each getting a pair. There was no joy for the latest member of the team, Greinier going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Hurricane Force: Josh Rojas, +28.2%
Storm Warning: Peralta, +20.4%; McCarthy, +11.8%
Mouse breath: Humberto Castellano, -6.0%
Nothing reached the level of Sedona Red, though at 239 comments, it was quite a brisk, albeit wind-blown Gameday Thread. So I’m going to go back a couple of days to my last recap, and honor these two:
Yeah. About that... The D-backs have actually already assured themselves of a split of the series, and with the Rockies game in Colorado being snowed out (something something roof...), they also no longer occupy last place in the NL West. Tomorrow, it’s another day game with an awkward 11:20 am first pitch. Madison Bumgarner starts for the D-backs.