Yikes. This one was a stressful sorta grind to watch. It started with an hour and a half’s rain delay before the first pitch was thrown. Due to some rough early innings by starter Madison Bumgarner, we were in a 4-0 hole by the end of the third inning. We didn’t have our second hit of the ballgame until the top of the seventh inning. And yet, here we are at the end of it, in the win column once again. Lemme break down how it happened.
Bumgarner took the mound against Cubs lefty Justin Steele, who beat us last Sunday at Chase. Both teams sat down in order in the first, though we looked particularly shabby by striking out in order. To be fair, the second K was charged to starting third baseman Josh Rojas, on a pitch that hit him in the hand but which was called a swinging strike three because his bat happened to cross the plate while Rojas was trying to get away from the pitch up and in. He left the ballgame without having taken the field, and was replaced by Yonny Hernandez when we took the field for the bottom of the first. The Gameday Thread pretty much agreed that it was an utterly crappy call, but what can you do? Rules are rules. Here’s the video:
Josh Rojas has exited the game after this. pic.twitter.com/imvFRfktog— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) May 21, 2022
Anyway, Bumgarner got through the first efficiently (12 pitches thrown), mainly by pumping in four-seam fastball after four-seam fastball. It was cold and wet at Wrigley, and the wind at first pitch was blowing in, and it was working fine.
The Diamondbacks sat down in order again in the top of the second, though only two of three batters struck out this time (sigh). Coming out for the bottom of the second, Bumgarner continued to throw a lot of four-seam fastballs, but alas, the wind had completely died, so it didn’t work out nearly as well as it had in the first. He retired the first batter he faced on one pitch, but then surrendered back-to-back homers over the left field wall to Frank Scwindel and Patrick Wisdom, the first on a hanging cutter and the second on another four-seamer that the wind wasn’t there to knock down. Despite the two dingers, he was even more efficient in the second in terms of pitch count, getting the last two outs and only throwing 11 pitches in the frame. Still, damage was done. 2-0 Chicago
We got our first baserunners in the top of the third, as David Peralta drew a five-pitch walk and advanced to second one out later on a Geraldo Perdomo single to shallow left. Jordan Luplow then flew out to right field, sacrificing Peralta to third.
Josh Rojas Yonny Hernandez couldn’t get him home, though, lining out to left to end the threat.
Bumgarner had more trouble in the third, giving up a one-out single to Chicago DH and leadoff hitter Willson Contreras, who then stole second and then came up lame running to third on what I thing was a Jonathan Villar foul ball during the next AB. He left the game, replaced by pinch runner Rafael Ortega, who remained in the game as DH. After getting Villar to look at a called strike three for the second out, Bumgarner surrendered a Seiya Suzuki double down into the left field corner that scored Ortega, and then a single into center to Cubs catcher Yan Gomes that scored Suzuki. Finally, he induced a Schwindel pop-up in the infield to end things. 4-0 Chicago
And that was the way it stayed, for a very long time. We got another baserunner in the top of the fourth, thanks to Jake McCarthy walking with two outs, but again, nothing came of it. Meanwhile, Bumgarner finally seemed to settle in, allowing no more baserunners to reach as he threw an 8-pitch fourth, an 12-pitch fifth, an 18-pitch sixth and a 16-pitch seventh. Yes, despite the four runs, Bumgarner finished the seventh inning, throwing 98 pitches in all and finishing with a line of 7 IP, 5 H, 2 HR, 4 ER, 0 BB, and 7 K. In fact, I think it’s a much better pitching line, all things considered, than it might look at first glance.
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, had been hanging long ABs on Steele throughout the day, despite being able to do nothing against him beyond that. Still, he was at 89 pitches at the end of the fifth, which was also the end of his day. Then we were into the Chicago bullpen, which started to go badly for them after a shutdown sixth inning by righty Chris Martin. Martin also recorded the first out of the top of the seventh, striking out Christian Walker on six pitches to start things off. Then a lefty named Brandon Hughes came on to face the parade of left-handed bats at the bottom of today’s lineup. McCarthy got the count full before lining a ball into right for our second hit of the day. Daulton Varsho followed with a single to second that the pitcher deflected. Peralta then struck out on three pitches, which was wretched, but Alek Thomas singled to right center to score McCarthy for our first run of the game:
Alek Thomas delivers. pic.twitter.com/gi9kQBWUEc— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) May 21, 2022
Perdomo lined out to center two pitches later, leaving runners on first and third, but hey, at least we were on the board. 4-1 Chicago
As mentioned above, Bumgarner pitched a flawless bottom of the seventh to end his day, which brought us back to bat in the top of the eighth. The Cubs rolled out righthander Scott Effross to face leadoff batter and Diamondbacks DH Jordan Luplow. Torey Lovullo countered by sending Pavin Smith out to face him instead. Pavin’s been having a bit of a rough time at the plate recently, but not today, as it turned out. On the fifth pitch of his AB, he got a meatball in the middle of the plate and launched it into the right field bleachers:
We weren’t done yet. Ketel Marte singled into the shift, hitting a ball under Schwindel’s glove that Ildemaro Vargas, playing second for the Cubs today, failed to make a play on. It was initially ruled an error, but the scoring was revised to make it a single. Effross then struck Christian Walker out, and was pulled for sometime Cubs closer David Roberston. Jake McCarthy went the opposite way this inning, doubling to left to plate Marte:
Jake McCarthy makes it a 1-run game in the 8th! pic.twitter.com/mZDXd8yR9s— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) May 21, 2022
Finally, Daulton Varsho tied the game with a single to center that he foolishly tried to stretch into a double. McCarthy scored, but Varsho TOOTBLANned his way into the third out as he was easily tagged out at second.
Still, whole new ballgame, and Bumgarner was off the hook! 4-4 TIE
Joe Mantiply took the ball for the bottom of the ninth, retired Andrelton Simmons quickly on a grounder to third. This turned the Chicago lineup over, and pinch hitter-new DH Ian Happ singled to shallow right on what seemed to be a pretty good pitch. Villar then singled to left on another pretty good pitch. Lovullo left Mantiply out there, though, for one more hitter, and Mantiply got Seiya Suzuki to fly out to center on a ball shallow enough that neither Happ nor Villar was able to advance. Mantiply then got the hook, and JB Wendelken of the 6.75 ERA took the ball. Thankfully, though, Wendelken struck out Gomes to leave the runners stranded and take us to the ninth.
Robertson was still on the mound despite not having actually retired either of the batters he’d faced in the eighth (Varsho retired himself, you may recall), and he promptly gave up a leadoff single to Peralta and walked Thomas and Perdomo to load the bases with nobody out. Pavin Smith hit a ground ball to Simmons at short, who threw home to force Peralta. Hernandez then lined the first pitch he saw to Simmons, nearly doubling off Thomas. Then Marte struck out looking on three pitches, in a truly wretched at bat that nevertheless kept up the 2022 Diamondbacks tradition of getting runners in scoring position with nobody out and failing to plate even a single run.
Ian P. Kennedy pitched the bottom of the ninth, and faced the minimum, despite surrendering a two-out single to Cubs center fielder Christopher Morel. For whatever reason, Morel tried to steal second with Vargas at the plate, and Varsho gunned him down with a cannon throw to Perdomo. That led to a kind of scary moment, as Perdomo and Morel both wound up writhing on the ground in pain, as Morel’s slide carried his knee into Perdomo’s knee, but both wound up staying in the game. And on we went to extras.
Marte was our
“ghost runner” Manfred Man at second to start the tenth, and Christian Walker at least made a productive out, grounding to the left side of the infield so that Marte could advance to third. McCarthy then hit his third single in fourth innings, on what the MLB Gameday described as a line drive single to new Cubs pitcher Rowan Wick, which was followed by a brief injury delay. I had stepped away for a moment, but what I assume happened was that McCarthy lined a comebacker to the mound that hit Wick and rolled away. Marte couldn’t score on the play, so we had runners on first and third. McCarthy then stole second (h/t Xerostomia....I initially missed that on my scoresheet) with Daulton Varsho at the plate. So Varsho had two runners in scoring positiion, and once again was a big damn hero, doubling off the wall in right center. Marte scored easily, McCarthy scored fairly easily, and Andrelton Simmons threw home wildly after getting the cutoff throw. The throw eluded Wick, who was backing up the play, and allowed Varsho to score as well on the two-base throwing error:
DAULTON VARSHO JUST MAKES IT HAPPEN! pic.twitter.com/apIsvbqOFA— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) May 21, 2022
Wick got the hook after that for Daniel Norris, who walked Peralta before getting Thomas to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. But we’d put up a three-spot, which it turned out we would very much need going into the bottom of the tenth. 7-4 D-BACKS
Mark Melancon, thankfully in a save situation now, got Vargas to ground out to second for the first out. It was kind of a carbon copy of Walker’s productive out in the top of the inning, though, as it advanced Chicago’s
ghost runner Manfred Man, Christopher Morel, to third. Andrelton Simmons then singled to right, scoring Morel. Simmons then stole second, putting another runner in scoring position. Melancon managed to strike out Happ, though, putting us one out away. Jonathan Villar wasn’t quite done, though, hitting a double down into the left field corner to score Simmons and putting the tying run in scoring position. Thankfully, though, Melancon succeeded in striking out Suzuki to complete the somewhat sloppy save and put this one in the win column for the good guys, 7-6 D-BACKS
Win Probability Added, courtesy of Fangraphs
In honor of International Tea Day, here are your standout performers:
Earl Grey: Daulton Varsho (5 AB, 1 R, 3 H, 1 2B, 3 RBI, +52.1% WPA)
Darjeeling: Jack McCarthy, (4 AB, 3 H, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 SB, +18.7 WPA)
Weak Tea: Yonny Hernandez (4 AB, 0 H, 1 K, -28.1% WPA)
It was actually a pretty slow Gameday Thread for much of the afternoon—I’m pretty sure that we were at less than 200 comments through seven innings. The last three frames were where the excitement happened, though, and we wound up with a whopping 393 comments at time of writing! CotG goes to Xerostomia for the sole Sedona Red comment at this point, and for the great restraint they showed in not commenting, despite the rampant tea-related subthreads that were going on all afternoon:
And whew, that is that! Join us tomorrow as we get out our brooms and go for the four game sweep. First pitch, in theory, is 11:20 tomorrow morning, AZ time. Merrill Kelly takes the mound for us, facing off against lefthander and former Diamondback Wade Miley and what has to be a truly gassed Chicago bullpen. This one was incredibly stressful, but if your nerves have settled by the morrow, please join us!
As always, thanks for reading! And as always, go D-Backs!