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Diamondbacks 8, Cincinnati 14: Garbage Time Follies

Tyler Gilbert was awful, their starter was terrifyingly good. And do not let the final score fool you....we were never in this one.

Environmental Issue In India Photo by David Talukdar/NurPhoto via Getty Images

So this afternoon, the Reds sent rookie right hander Graham Ashcraft, 2-0 in the first three starts of his young MLB career, to the mound. Lefty Tyler Gilbert, he of the spot start no-hitter late last season, started for us, making his audition for the fifth rotation spot now that Humberto Castellanos is on the DL after getting kinda shelled in his last several appearances. To make a long story short, Gilbert bombed his audition, and this game was pretty much off the rails and plummeting over a cliff from the very start.

Ashcraft, who apparently throws the hardest cut fastball in the major leagues, mowed down the top of our lineup on 11 pitches. He was pumping in pitches in the 98-100 mph range, and yet somehow inducing weak contact. He sat down Daulton Varsho, Pavin Smith, and Ketel Marte, retiring each on a groundout to shortstop.

Gilbert came out, throwing about 10 mph slower than Ashcraft, and got ahead 1-2 on Nick Senzel, the Reds’ leadoff batter, before Daulton Varsho got called for catcher’s information, putting Senzel on first. Gilbert then struck out Brandon Drury on three pitches, and followed up by walking Cincinnati DH Tommy Pham on four pitches. Joey Votto then worked the count full before launching a ball over the fence in left center. One groundout later, Gilbert walked Kyle Farmer, the Reds’ shortstop, on five pitches (improvement?). Farmer promptly stole second, and was driven in by an Albert Almora, Jr. single to left. Gilbert finally ended the misery, inducing the eighth batter he’d faced to pop out to Geraldo Perdomo at short. Still, he’d thrown 35 pitches, and we were already in a deepish hole. 4-0 Cincinnati

And honestly, that’s the limit of the patience I have for an inning-by-inning recap today. Suffice it to say, it got no better from there. Ashcraft wound up being perfect his first time through the Diamondbacks order, only needing 37 pitches through three pristine innings. Gilbert, on the other hand, coughed up three more runs in the bottom of the second on a hit batsman and three hits, including another dinger as well as a double. He got pulled for Caleb Smith after 55 pitches, having recorded all of five outs. 7-0 Cincinnati

Smith surrendered two more runs in the third, allowing two walks, a double and yet another home run, and needing 24 pitches to get through the frame. 9-0 Cincinnati

We got a couple of singles off Ashcraft in the fourth, and Jake Hager hit a leadoff double to start the sixth, but that is the sum total of what the Diamondbacks offense was able to achieve. Caleb Smith managed to get through the sixth with no more damage done, though by the end of his workday, he’d thrown 78 pitches in total. Ashcraft, meanwhile, pitched a full six innings himself, only needing 77 pitches to do it. Remarkably, too, he was still hitting 100 mph on the radar gun right up until the end. That kid is good, and kind of terrifying.

Some dude named Jeff Hoffman pitched the top of the seventh for the Reds, and sat us down in order for the fifth time in seven innings. JB Wendelken pitched the bottom of the seventh for us, and got us our first entirely clean inning of the night, recording two strikeouts and a groundout. Woo hoo. Then there was a rain delay, and I started writing this up, and—oh, crap, after one hour and three minutes, we’re underway again. Yay. Be back in a bit.

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....

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Welp. Goddamnit. I was frankly just waiting on the game to be called after seven innings, a la last night, but for whatever reason, they decided to resume play, with the Reds leading 9-0 after seven. Of course they did. And of course, we had to do some things in terms of garbage time offense, so I can’t just put this stupid, awful baseball game behind me just yet. All right. Fine.

[Dano rolls up his sleeves]

So some dude comes out after the rain delay to face the bottom of the Diamondbacks order, and promptly hits Jordan Luplow. Retaliation for Gilbert plunking their leadoff batter in the second? Possibly. Who cares. Jake McCarthy doubled into the right field corner, and probably would have made it to third had Luplow turned the corner and headed home. Anyway. Runners on second and third with nobody out. Jake Hager, who actually had some of the best at bats of any Diamondback today, drew a walk, loading the bases. Geraldo Perdomo, our nine-hole hitter, came to the plate and chose this moment to hit his first Major League home run, which was nice for him, especially with it being a grand slam. Here it is:

Two outs later, Ketel Marte did some similar business with a kind of golf shot that didn’t seem like it had enough to get there but just made it over the wall in right center:

9-5 Cincinnati

Now, you might think that we were suddenly kinda back in it, right? One more grand slam and we’re tied, right?

Nope.

Noe Ramirez took the ball for the bottom of the eighth, and only managed to record two outs as he gave back all five of the runs we’d just scored. Nine Reds batters reached, the last one being Senzel, who emerging fireman and tonight’s starting third baseman Jake Hager took the mound to retire for the third out of what wound up being a deeply stupid eighth inning. 14-5 Cincinnati

For us, the bottom of the lineup was at the plate again for the top of the ninth, and they managed to scratch three more runs across on serial singles, with Daulton Varsho driving in two with a single of his own when the lineup finally turned over. We plated three more in all, but of course that was wildly insufficient. Tra la. 14-8 Cincinnati FINAL

Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs

As you can tell by the graph, the outcome of this one was never in any doubt whatsoever. Our distinguished performers are as follows, named for the vintage TV shows that folks in the Gameday Thread were talking about going and marathoning once they switched off the game:

Get Smart: Geraldo Perdomo (4 AB, 2 H, 1 HR, 5 RBI, a mere +0.7% WPA but the highest of any Diamondback)
My Favorite Martian: Tyler Gilbert (123 IP, 7 R, 6 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 HR, -37.1% WPA)

At present there are 204 comments in the Gameday Thread, which makes it remarkably well-attended, especially for a Tuesday and especially for such a dismal game. Comment of the Game goes to Snake_Bitten, for capturing the essence of the 2021 gallows humor that today’s contest very much called to mind:

The third game of this series is tomorrow, with Merrill Kelly scheduled to take the mound against veteran lefty Mike Minor, who is currently sporting an ERA (11.25) that makes Melancon’s (or Gilbert’s, after this start) look kind of okay. First pitch is once again 3:40pm AZ time, so if you’re interested in seeing if we can have a shot at salvaging a series split against Cincinnati, you should stop in and join us. If not, I for one would not hold it against you. Anyway.

As always, thanks for reading. As always, go Diamondbacks.