Record: 23-25. Pace: 78-84. Change on 2022: +5.
This series has stood in stark contrast to the one in Los Angeles, where the Diamondbacks somehow managed to lead each of the four games at some point, on their way to being swept. Here, over the first two games the D-backs had not led for a single out, and been tied at the end of just one inning. In the opener, they fell behind before Humberto Castellanos could record an out, and the following day, Madison Bumgarner gave up back-to-back home-runs with two outs in the second. We were down 0-6 and 0-4 respectively by the middle of that frame, which doesn’t exactly breed confidence for tonight. And a nationally televised game involving your Arizona Diamondbacks. What could possibly go wrong?
Turns out we only had to wait for about two pitches to find out the answer there, as Mookie Betts flipped Merrill Kelly’s second offering of the game over the fence in right field. As mentioned in the game preview, Betts came into the game eighth on the list of current active D-backs killers, with an OPS against the team of 1.019, and that home-run is only going to increase the figure. How long is he under contract in Los Angeles again? Welp. That was all the damage there, but after Arizona went meekly down in order, Kelly allowed the first three to reach. Fortunately, he was able to pick the lead man off (after review), likely saving a run. He stranded the other two on the corners, and Arizona were only down 1-0 in the middle of the second. Result!
Things managed to get better in the Arizona half, with the D-backs making hard contact off Tony Gonsolin. David Peralta led off the inning with a single, and was followed later in the inning by a pair of RBI triples (above), to almost the same spot in the park over by the pool, off the bats of Jake McCarthy and Geraldo Perdomo. Exit velocities on the three hits: 102.5, 103.6 and 103.1 mph. Perdomo was left stranded on third after Jose Herrera grounded out, but even that had an EV of 96.1 mph, as the Diamondbacks took their first lead of the series. Now, we just needed a shutdown inning from Merrill Ke... Hey! Where are you going? It could happen! And it kinda did - only after another hit by Betts, with Kelly leaving him on third-base this time.
The rest of the third and the fourth were quiet, though it felt more like waiting for the inevitable, as the Dodgers kept leaving men on base and in scoring position. To absolutely nobody’s surprise, doing that proved not to be a sustainable strategy for success by Merrill Kelly. The top of the fifth inning started with Alek Thomas coming an inch short of a nice play on a ball in center, though this was followed by Mookie Betts being retired by Arizona for the first time this millennium. Freddie Freeman almost went deep, much to Fox Sports’ disappointment - they put up the Home Run graphic, just before the umpire emphatically signaled a foul ball - and ended up settling for a walk. Both men then scored on a single and sacrifice fly, to give Los Angeles the lead back, 3-2 in the middle of the fifth.
That was the end of Kelly’s night, having thrown 91 pitches to that point . He allowed seven hits and two walks over five innings, with five strikeouts and three runs allowed, all earned. Not a brilliant outing, but compared to what we’ve seen out of our starting pitching lately, it felt almost Cy Young worth. The graphic above popped up on screen during the Fox broadcast, and illustrates just how badly the Arizona rotation has fallen apart over the past couple of weeks. Given that starting ERA, it’s remarkable the team had actually gone 5-7 over that time, coming into today’s contest. A freshly-recalled Kyle Nelson took over from Kelly for the sixth, and added to his good campaign with a zero, keeping it a one-run game.
The problem was more the offense had not been able to get much done against Gonsolin. After the go-ahead RBI triple with two outs in the second, Arizona had only one base-runner through the end of the seventh, a double with two outs in the fourth by McCarthy. It looked like the Dodgers might extend their lead in the seventh, following a lead-off double. The runner tagged for third on a fly-ball, but Josh Rojas alertly kept the tag on, and the Dodger came off the bag for a moment, so the initial safe call was overturned. After Sean Poppen issued a walk, something similar happened. A pick-off was initially called safe, but on replay, the call was overturned. Not a good day for the umpires, I’d say, Arizona going 3/3 on challenges.
After Noe Ramirez did his job in the top of the eighth, the streak of offensive futility was broken by Cooper Hummel, coming off the bench to pinch-hit for Herrera. He drew a walk, becoming the tying run on base. Unfortunately, Rojas and Pavin Smith both struck out looking. Ramirez gave up a lead-off double in the ninth; Joe Mantiply stranded it there, leaving the Dodgers 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position today. That’s likely the only reason the score was as close. Old friend Daniel Hudson came in to work the ninth. and was greeted rudely by Ketel Marte with a double, to give us hope. Well, until Christian Walker hacked at the first pitch, David Peralta struck out and McCarthy went down swinging, too.
What, you expected something different?
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
King Kong: Ketel Marte: +19.4%
Clyde: Sean Poppen, +12.6%
Harambe: Christian Walker, -23.1%
A.P.E.: Peralta, -17.7%; Rojas, -14.1%; Smith, -14.1%; Thomas, -11.8%; Kelly, -10.7%
Nothing Sedona Red in the comments, though cracking 300 is a worthy number. Same two teams tomorrow afternoon as - and, stop me if you’ve heard this before - the Diamondbacks will try to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Dodgers. 1:10 pm first pitch there, with Zach Davies starting for Arizona.