Record: 36-44. Pace: 73-89. Change on 2021: +14.
After falling behind early, it looked like this was going be a rocky Independence Day for the D-backs. But they battled back, helped by some particular ineptness on the part of the Giants, to take the opening game of the series. While there may have been no fireworks after this contest, the Diamondbacks provided plenty during proceedings, with some great defense, base-running and relief pitching in particular.
I was a little late turning this one on. I had scheduled my movie to finish before first pitch, but Mrs. SnakePit returned from her Independence Day foraging, so I helped her put away the provisions, which delayed things a bit. Was a bit discouraged to change channel and find the Giants had already loaded the bases against Madison Bumgarner, without a hit. He had hit the second batter faced, then walked the next two. San Francisco took advantage: not exactly a hard-hit ball, but a 62.4 mph bloop to right was good enough to score a pair. While MadBum did then dial up a double-play, Arizona were already forced to play uphill baseball, trailing 2-0 before they even came to the plate.
The D-backs had a chance to answer back immediately, as Jordan Luplow doubled to the wall in left-center, and Cooper Hummel drew a walk. Ketel Marte had a poor at-bat: the only pitch in the zone was the one he took looking for strike three. Still, Christian Walker drew a walk, giving the Diamondbacks the same. bases loaded with one out. situation as the Giants. The mirror imaging continued, as Buddy Kennedy drove in two with a single to right, tying the score at 2-2 (above). Just as for San Francisco, Arizona couldn't score any more, Josh Rojas and Carson Kelly striking out. Even though Giants' starter Carlos Rodon struck out the side, the D-backs had seriously extended the pitcher, making him throw thirty-six pitches in the inning.
Bumgarner continued to struggle with his control, in particular missing outside to right-handed batters. Through his first 43 pitches, he had just one fewer balls than strikes. He did strand a lead-off double in the second, eventually leaving two in scoring position, though his count was up to 49 pitches by the time Bumgarner walked back to the dugout. [The first nine outs took 47 minutes: what a time to be alive!] Daulton Varsho’s speed then generated the go-ahead run, almost single-handed. He legged out an infield hit, and Geraldo Perdomo then sacrificed to third. Varsho took second, saw third-base was unoccupied, and kept right on running. While the catcher tried to cover, the throw from first sailed high, and Daulton was able to come home (below).
More sloppy Giants defense helped the Diamondbacks extend the lead. Hummel singled, stole second and ended up on third as the throw sailed into center. He then scored as Marte delivered a ground-rule double down the right-field line, giving Arizona a 4-2 lead at the end of two. Good news! Bumgarner didn't walk anyone in the top of the third. Bad news! He did allow three hits, allowing San Francisco to close the gap to 4-3. Updating the pace of play figures: 2 1/2 innings = 75 minutes, and 134 pitches between the two starters. Though Rodon and Bumgarner then traded 1-2-3 frames, MadBum having a much-needed eight pitch fourth. To that point, each had thrown 86 pitches.
Bumgarner hit the Giants lead-off man in the fifth, his fifth free pass (three BB + two HBP). He survived, his day ending with the inning, at exactly 100 pitches. It had five hits and three runs allowed, with four K’s. Not a great outing, yet it kept his team in the game. Rodon's day was similarly over after five, though having retired the final ten D-backs he saw, we were happy to see the back of him. Sean Poppen took over and put up a zero in the sixth, with the aid of a beautiful double-play started by Buddy Kennedy, slicker than a well-greased otter (below). Kennedy followed by legging out another infield single in the bottom half, and brought tacos, scoring from first after a Rojas double got past the left-fielder. Varsho’s RBI single made it 6-3 to Arizona.
As smooth of a double play as you'll see all year. pic.twitter.com/ejksxM5zUv— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) July 5, 2022
Joe Mantiply took over for the seventh, and struck out the side on 12 pitches, then retired the Giants around a two-out double for the eighth. It was his 32nd consecutive appearance without issuing a walk. This is tied for 9th-best all-time, and hasn’t been surpassed in the National League since Yimi Garcia went 33 in a row for the 2015 Dodgers. Mantiply had to throw 32 pitches, his longest outing in three seasons with the Diamondbacks. On a day where the bullpen was thin, with the departure of Ian Kennedy for the injured list, and Bumgarner only lasted five innings, those were six very important outs.
It looked like Mark Melancon would come in for the save opportunity in the ninth. Luckily, Varsho rendered it moot, as he singled home two more in the bottom of the eighth, to make it 8-3. Melancon hadn’t pitched in a while, so still took the mound, and there was absolutely no drama as he sat down San Francisco in order, to seal the win. Outside of MadBum’s wobbles, it was a very well-played game by Arizona. Varsho had three hits and drove in three runs, while Kennedy and Rojas each had a pair of hits. After the game, manager Torey Lovullo announced that Tyler Gilbert would be starting tomorrow night’s game for Arizona.
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Apple pie: Buddy Kennedy, +13.5%
Taxation without representation: Carson Kelly, -7.3%
Thanks to all those who took part in the Gameday Thread, which passed 200 comments - not bad on a day when the game was competing with all manner of grill-related activities! No question about the Comment of the Thread, which goes to Jack’s very welcome update on our beloved Gubnah.
We’ll be back at Chase Field tomorrow night, where Tyler Gilbert will be starting for Arizona, as discussed above. The Tommy Henry movement will have to wait... We are back to a more standard 6:40 pm first pitch for that!
And I’m off to watch the original Top Gun, for the first time ever. Doesn’t get much more Fourth of July than that. Well, I guess, except for Independence Day, but I’ve seen that rather TOO often, I think!