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Diamondbacks 1, Rockies 4: Melancon Happens

Zach Davies pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning, we scratched out a late run to take the lead, but it was not to be, ultimately.

Serious accident on the B51 near Trier Photo by Harald Tittel/picture alliance via Getty Images

Not a whole lot to say about this one but that it went the way that an awful lot of our games have gone so far in this young season, at least since the starting rotation has gotten fully stretched out. Zach Davies, who in his four previous starts hadn’t pitched further into a game than five innings, took the mound against the Colorado Rockies this evening, facing off against Colorado lefty Kyle Freeland, who had managed to pitch 513 innings in his second start but otherwise has had a broadly similar start to his 2022 season. And yet, it turned into a pitching duel.

Both teams sat down in order in the first. Both teams had their leadoff batters reach on singles in the second: Rockies’ first baseman CJ Cron singled to left off Davies, while Christian Walker singled to right off Freeland. Neither of them made it to second base, though, as Cron was forced at second on a slow grounder to Ahmed that almost turned into an inning-ending double play. Walker, meanwhile, got picked off first base, which was embarrassing, as he hadn’t even started back to the bag when the ball was in Cron’s glove. Davies notched another 1-2-3 inning in the third, while the Diamondbacks got their second hit of the night, a two-out infield single off the bat of Daulton Varsho. Varsho advanced to second on an errant throw by Rockies’ shortstop Jose Iglesias, but that’s where he stayed.

Davies encountered a bit of trouble in the top of the fourth, issuing a two-out walk to Cron, followed by a single to right that got Cron to third. Elias Diaz, Colorado’s catcher, then hit a sharp liner to left that came off the bat hard but which David Peralta chased down to leave the runners stranded on the corners. Our boys went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame, so on we marched to the fifth. Davies surrendered another leadoff single to left, this time off the bat of Brendan Rogers, the Rockies’ second baseman, but another near double-play ball to Ahmed erased him, followed by a K and an infield pop-up. For the most part, Davies was throwing strikes and inducing weak contact, and frankly this was the best I’ve seen him look on the mound thus far this season. At the end of five innings, he’d thrown a mere 73 pitches, which was good to see.

Peralta led off the home half of the fifth with a single back up the box into center, giving us our third leadoff baserunner of the game. Ahmed then beat out a grounder to short that forced Peralta at second but avoided the double play. One out later, Josh Rojas singled to center, and Ahmed advanced to third. Varsho, who was batting ninth tonight, wasn’t able to bring him home, though, grounding out to first to end the inning.

Davies came out for the sixth inning, and would have recorded his third 1-2-3 frame of the night, had it not been for a two-out error by Rojas, who fumbled a CJ Cron grounder at third and then airmailed the throw to Walker at first. Rojas fielded the next grounder cleanly, though, so no damage was done. In the bottom of the sixth, meanwhile, the wheels started to come off for Freeland, who recorded two outs before Ketel Marte ripped a single to left. Walker and Peralta each drew six-pitch walks, provoking a mound visit from Rockies’ manager Bud Black, after which he managed to get Ahmed to ground out to him, leaving the bases loaded.

Davies, meanwhile, had only thrown 89 pitches, so Torey Lovullo brought him back out to the mound to start the seventh inning. Davies walked Diaz on seven pitches, but Torey left him face another batter, and it took him eight more pitches to retire Rogers for his sixth strikeout of the evening. It was also his last batter, as he then left the ballgame with a pitching line of 613 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 6 K and 104 pitches thrown. It was a hell of an outing, by far the best we’ve seen from Zach thus far. Joe Mantiply relieved him, and recorded two quick outs to wrap it up. We sat down in order in the bottom of the seventh against some dude the Rockies brought in to relieve Freeland, so now we were into the bullpens, but the pitching duel continued.

Ian Kennedy took the ball for the eighth and sat the top of the Rockies’ lineup down in order to take us to the part of the game where we did our damage last night. Tonight we again did damage, though alas it was less damage than we managed in support of Merrill Kelly yesterday. Righthander Alex Colome took the ball for Colorado to face the top of our order, and retired designated hitter Cooper Hummel on a grounder to third. Jordan Luplow then walked, promptly stole second and then stole third while Ketel Marte was at the plate, which was deeply funny and also put us in our best position of the night to actually get a run across. Marte wound up drawing a walk, giving us runners on first and third with only one out. Christian Walker then came to the plate, and almost sent one over the fence to right. Instead it hit off the top of the wall, as Rockies’ right fielder Charlie Blackmon couldn’t quite make the play on it. Walker steamed into second with a double, Luplow scored, and Marte, who had to hold up to see if the ball fell, only made it to third.

Colome intentionally walked Peralta, loading the bases with one out, so there was a not unreasonable hope that we could get more. But we didn’t, as Nick Ahmed, who frankly sucked tonight at the plate, bounced a tailor-made double play ball to Iglesias at short, who threw home to Diaz, who then relayed to Cron at first for the relatively rare 6-2-3 inning-ending twin killing. 1-0 Diamondbacks

So. Top of the ninth. Enter Mark Melancon, recently off the covid IL, who saved Kelly’s effort last night on eight pitches. Tonight he screwed up royally. He surrendered two singles to shallow left to start the inning, struck out Diaz, then surrendered four more singles in a row, not only allowing the Rockies to tie the game but, by the time he’d been yanked and Kyle Nelson had come in to clean things up, to score four times. We did nothing in the bottom of the ninth, so there’s your final score. 4-1 Colorado

Win Probability Added, courtesy of Fangraphs

Mozart’s Symphony #29: Zach Davies (see pitching line above, +35% WPA)
Beethoven’s Ninth: Christian Walker (3 AB, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 RBI, +18% WPA), Jordan Luplow (3 AB, 1 BB, 1 R, 2 SB, +11.3% WPA)
Rachmaninov’s Concerto for Kindergartners Handling Musical Instruments for the First Time: Mark Melancon (23 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, -80.5% WPA)

It was a very active, and consistently active, Gameday Thread tonight, with 363 comments at the time of writing, most of which were actually posted before the wheels came off in the top of the ninth. CotG goes by popular acclaim to Kilnborn for this utterly charming rhyming couplet commemorating our first bullpen arm closing out the top of the seventh quickly and cleanly:

So this one didn’t end up how we all had hoped, but we are still in line for the series win tomorrow. Zac Gallen takes the mound against Colorado righty German Marquez, who’s having a rough start to his season and is currently sporting an unsightly 6.92 ERA. First pitch is 1:10 AZ time. Hope you can drop by and join us!

As always, thanks for reading. As always, go D-Backs!