Record: 32-36. Pace: 76-86. Change on 2021: +12.
Mind you, it's also easier to write a recap when your team are not nine runs down by the middle of the fourth inning. Though after the Twins opened the game against Merrill Kelly by quickly going double, single, I wondered if I would be dipping into the Tubi queue for alternative entertainment, and faking the recap. Fortunately for my journalistic integrity, Kelly ended up settling down, and Christian Walker continued his bid for an All-Star spot with a pair of home-runs. Buddy Kennedy had a likely end of season highlight, with a grand-slam for his first career homer - on Father's Day, in front of his father. You can't make this stuff up, folks.
Kelly’s issue over the past month or so had been too many free passes. In his previous six starts, he had issued 18 walks in 29 innings. That's a perilous rate, especially when the strikeouts (23) weren't all that. But Kelly avoided the gifts today, walking fewer than two batters for the first time since April. Indeed, he avoided any walks over seven innings, throwing 67 of 96 pitches for strikes. After their two hits, the Twins did take the lead in the first, on a run-scoring double-play ball; however, that was it. He scattered five hits and also struck out five, improving his record to 6-4, and lowering his season ERA to 3.46.
Walker then took the team on his back, and single-handedly first erased the Twins' lead, then gave it to the Diamondbacks. In the second inning, Christian clubbed his seventeenth homer, a solo shot that went 404 feet to left, tying the game. Two innings later, he repeated the damage, going just a little bit further - a 414 ft. solo shot, for a 2-1 Arizona lead. Walker had taken to the razor before the game, and the new clean-shaven look clearly paid off. He was the team's designated hitter today, with the struggling Pavin Smith playing first base. The change seemed to do Smith good as well: he singled in his first at-bat, then delivered his ninth homer of the year in the fifth. It went even further than Walker's, at 420 feet, and gave Pavin his first multi-hit game since May 4th. All three home-runs are above.
At this stage, it was still only 3-1, and we saw last night how this Twins offense could score in a hurry. Insurance was welcome, and it came in the sixth. Alek Thomas and Josh Rojas both singled off a left-hander, bringing up Walker. He wasn’t able to get a third home-run, instead striking out on high heat. With David Peralta up, the prospect of the chance going to waste seemed real, except the Freight Train drew a walk to load the bases for Kennedy. He didn’t take the bat off his shoulder for the first three pitches, getting the benefit of a call from umpire Ed Hickox to get into a 3-0 count. Just after Bob Brenly reminded us Geraldo Perdomo had a grand-slam for his firsr career home-run, this happened:
Definitely a candidate for play of the year when it comes time for the SnakePit to hand out its end of season awards. After Kelly’s departure, Joe Mantiply and Noe Ramirez tried to take things the rest of the way, in sharply different fashion. Mantiply struck out two of the three batters faced, and lowered his ERA to 0.36 across 25.1 innings. He could be a dark horse for am All-Star slot, considering it's the lowest ERA of any reliever with 20+ innings in the National League this year (he overtook the Cards' Ryan Helsey with this outing). Ramirez walked two batters, uncorked a wild pitch, and had to be replaced by Ian Kennedy for the final out, after throwing 24 pitches. IPK got a pop-out, appropriately to Buddy Kennedy, to end the game.
After last night’s drubbing, this was very much a palate cleanser, even if the team had only three at-bats and just one hit (no prizes for guessing what!) with runners in scoring position. Walker and Smith each had two hits; the latter got his average back up above the Uecker Line, and is currently on pace for 43 home-runs. Right now, the Mets’ Pete Alonso is the only NL hitter with more homers than Walker. Overall, the Diamondbacks were able to take a series from a first-place team, which is always good. It sets them up nicely for their next series, in San Diego against the Padres - who just got swept at Coors Field, and may also have lost Manny Machado.
Random thoughts and notes
- Jordan Luplow's walk-up song is 'House of the Rising Sun', which prompted Mrs. SnakePit to ask if the outfielder had had a bad experience at a brothel. I felt compelled to explain that my liking Bohemian Rhapsody did not mean I had ever shot someone.
- Alek Thomas's single in the sixth extended his hitting streak to 11 games. The only D-back age 22 or younger with a longer streak is Justin Upton, who had 18- and 17-game streaks.
- Joe Mantiply had his 16th straight scoreless appearance. It was also his 27th walkless appearance in a row, a franchise record. The MLB record is 41, by Dennis Eckersley in 1989-90. Mantiply has struck out 24 batters since his solitary walk this season.
- After the game, Torey Lovullo said that Buddy Kennedy did NOT have the green light and had been told to take a pitch on 3-0. Between that and players running through stop signs, it feels like there may be a communication issue between the third-base coach and the players...
- The game lasted two hours and fifty-one minutes. Or, using my new scale for such things, 0.972 The Batmans.
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Father Christmas:Merrill Kelly +26.1%
Father of the Bride: Walker, +20.5%; Smith, +11.5%
Father Time: Jordan Luplow, -6.5%
A couple of very credible candidates for Comment of the Thread, but in light of what’s coming in the Round Table later tonight, I have to go with Jack’s:
As mentioned above, it’s now off to San Diego for the Diamondbacks, who start a three-game series against the Padres tomorrow night. It’s a 6:40 pm first pitch, with Zach Davies starting for Arizona.