Record: 28-32. Pace: 76-86. Change on 2021: +8.
So, with Turambar off North killing things (I presume), it fell upon me to cover the Friday recap. “Are they playing in Philadelphia?” asked Mrs. SnakePit. When I answered in the affirmative, she replied, “Does that mean that weird green thing will be roaming the stands?” Going forward, I will always refer to the Phillies’ mascot as the Philadephia Weird Green Thing. Anyway, this game proved to be a test of resilience, both of the D-backs and their fans, though those who stuck around were rewarded by the team making this much more a contest than it seemed it would be in the early stages.
In the preview, I wrote up a bit about the Diamondbacks’ rotations weird “reverse split.” They had struggled in the early going, particularly over the first two innings, where the team had been outscored by close to a two-to-one margin. Well, that ratio got considerably worse after tonight’s outing, as Zac Gallen had probably the most unpleasant start in his career, failing to get through two innings for the first ever time. It was all the more unfortunate, as this evening’s game took place just a few miles from where Gallen grew up, and apparently with a good number of friends and family in attendance. In their shoes, I would be demanding a refund. Even if the tickets were free.
To cut to the chase. Zac Gallen went 1.2 innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits, two of which left the yard, and a walk, with a pair of strikeouts. There’s not a part of that line which is anything but ugly, and it is certainly the case that Gallen looked badly off in just about all aspects of the game, from the get-go. However, despite five of the runs being earned, there’s a very good case to be made that he should have been out of the second inning only 1-0 down. That run came in the first, where he allowed a towering one-out homer, but was able to escape without further damage, albeit after throwing 21 pitches. In the second, he got one out, allowed a walk and a single... then this happened.
Yep, that is Ketel Marte, booting what looks like it should have been a sure-fire double-play ball for his eighth error of the season so far. That broke a three-way tie with Brandon Rodgers (Colorado) and Kolten Wong (Milwaukee) for most errors at the second-base position in the major leagues. In comparison, the last time Marte was anything close to a full-time second baseman was 2019. He made just two errors in almost exactly the same number of innings at the position (then 462.1 vs. 457.2 this year). Instead of going back to the dugout, Gallen was 2-0 down. The next hitter delivered a three-run homer, and by the time Zac was finally lifted, had thrown a borderline abusive 45 pitches in the second.
6-0 at the end of that, with the team’s ratio in the second inning now sitting at 19 scored, 50 allowed. Of particular note, Arizona has scored more than twice in the frame just once. After this evening, they have conceded more that two on EIGHT occasions. That inning has truly been the staff’s Kryptonite this season. The team needs to be thankful for the recent arrival on the roster of Edwin Uceta. Despite coming in to a lost cause (WP down to 5.1%), he merely delivered the longest outing of his major-league career - here or with the Dodgers, from whom he was a waiver-wire pick in October. Uceta tossed 4.1 scoreless and efficient innings on 60 pitches, allowed two hits and no walks, striking out a pair.
That at least gave the Diamondbacks a chance for one of their trademark come from behind victories, remote though the odds seemed at the time. They only managed two base-runners through the first five innings. Both of those came in the third, on an Alek Thomas single and Daulton Varsho walk, but they were stranded after Josh Rojas could only pop out. Varsho did get the team on the board in the sixth, getting his ninth home-run of the season, with a solo shot to right (above). Arizona then put two more on base, although David Peralta was unable to bring them in, leaving the score 6-1 to Philadelphia.
The seventh proved quite a different story. Two walks and a single loaded the bases for Varsho, who just missed what would have been a grand-slam. He had to settle for a two-run double off the wall in right; Rojas then rendered it moot, following with a two-run double of his own. Don't look now: the D-backs suddenly had the tying run in scoring position. Ketel Marte flew out: I was considerably more upset by the travesty of a call which saw Christian Walker rung up on a pitch well outside (pitch #7 below). It's the kind of woeful, potentially game-changing error which is why I feel robot umps can't get here soon enough.
I think Christian was more pained by that call, than the 95 mph fastball he took to the face in Cincinnati (which left him with a black eye). That 6-5 score proved to be as close as Arizona would get. Sean Poppen took over from Uceta, and immediately gave up a solo home-run, giving the Phillies an insurance run. The Diamondbacks did get the tying run to the plate with two outs in the ninth, after Varsho got on base for the fourth time (he finished a triple short of the cycle, and stole a base, rather dangerously, in the ninth). Hopefully, that will kickstart Daulton out of his recent slump. Rojas flew out, and that was it, the hole Gallen dug - with a little help from Marte - proving too deep for even the Diamondbacks' powers of resilience.
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Art Nouveau: Daultton Varsho, +14.1%
Cuisine Nouvelle: Zac Gallen, -34.8%
Considering how badly this one started, something of a miracle the comment count still managed to reach three digits. Nothing got more than a couple of recs though, so we’ll shake this one off and move on. Same two teams tomorrow, but an earlier start at 1:05 pm Arizona time. Madison Bumgarner starts for the D-backs; let’s just try and get through two innings as a first step, shall we?