Record: 53-63. Pace: 74-88. Change on 2021: +17.
Well, that’s two hours and fifty minutes of my life I’ll never get back. I could have watched a couple of movies. Improved my mind by reading. Rammed my head repeatedly into a concrete bollard. All of them would have been more entertaining than this suck-fest. The D-backs were one strike away from getting their first 1-0 road win in more than seven years. The last had also been in San Francisco, on June 12, 2015, Chase Anderson beating some guy called Madison Bumgarner. Wonder what happened to him? But the head of the apparently fictional “closer by committee”, Ian Kennedy, allowed a two-out triple, then a walk-off home-run. He and Mark Melancon have now combined for SIXTEEN losses.
The first three innings of this game were, let's be honest, dull. I'm not sure quite what made them so uninteresting, but I'm pretty sure that if I was not contractually obliged to write about the game, I'd likely have changed the channel. Or fallen asleep. There were vague scoring chances for both sides, but neither San Francisco nor Arizona were able to get a man past second base. There were no particularly good defensive plays, no action to speak of on the base-paths, and just a series of weakly-hit outs. The D-backs seemed have trouble picking up the slider from the Giants' starter, Jakob Junis. First time through they were 1-for-9 with three strikeouts, and Jake McCarthy's one-out double in the second, their only base-runner.
After allowing a lead-off double in the first, Merrill Kelly settled down. A shallow fly-ball and tailor-made double-play ball stranded the runner, and started a streak of eight in a row set down by Merrill. Arizona threatened briefly in the top of the third. With two outs, Daulton Varsho singled and Emmanuel Rivera wore a painful looking pitch on the inside of his thigh. But Josh Rojas could only ground out. We were scoreless after three, and the highlight had been me getting a perfect score on today's DuoLingo lesson. Christian Walker woke me from my slumber, leading off the fourth, tying a career high with his 29th home-run (below).
It was his third consecutive game with a homer, the second time thus year Walker has three-peated. He also did so on the road in Los Angeles on May 16-17, including both ends of a double-header. His previous two in this streak had gone 460 and 461 feet. This one was considerably shorter, not even 400 (397 feet to be precise), but still counted the same. Only two players in Diamondbacks history have had more home-runs through this point in the season. Mark Reynolds had 36 in 2009, and Luis Gonzalez (naturally) hit 43 in 2001. Jay Bell also had 29 home-runs during his 1999 campaign. Coincidentally, some other guy who also plays 1B, hit his 29th home-run today too.
Tedium then returned, wrapping its fluffy arms around the game like a plush octopus. A one-out double for the Giants in the bottom of the fourth? Stranded. A lead-off single for the Diamondbacks in the top of the fifth? Stranded. Through the middle of the seventh inning, Walker was still the only man for either side to have got past second-base. San Francisco ended that streak in the bottom half. Another lead-off double was sacrificed to third for the second out, and Kelly walked Brandon Crawford, before getting Joey Bart to fly out to right. That was about the first at-bat of the game with any tension in it.
It also marked the end of the night for Kelly. He went 7 shutout innings, on four hits and a pair of walks, with seven strikeouts. Those numbers closely mirrored those of Junis, who also went seven innings, allowing four hits and striking out seven. The outing dropped Kelly's ERA to 2.81, which ranks seventh in the National League, and he certainly deserved better than the no-decision he ended up getting. Arizona fared no better offensively once Junis was lifted, former D-back Alex Young retiring them in order for the eighth. Joe Mantiply took over from Kelly in the bottom half. The Giants burned two right-handed pinch hitters to get the platoon advantage against southpaw Mantiply... and he struck both of them out.
He couldn't immediately complete the trifecta, giving up a two-out double to another right-hander, former D-back, Wilmer Flores. Mantiply finally got to face a lefty, and Brandon Belt couldn't check his swing, taking us into the ninth with the score still 1-0 to Arizona. Josh Rojas led off with a single, punching the ball the other way; however, the inning ended three outs later with the runner still on first. Side-note: Alek Thomas is currently in a slump of almost Beer-esque proportions. Over his last ten games, he is hitting .135 (5-for-37), with no extra-base hits and one walk. Actually, Beer is batting .154 (4-for-26) in his last ten, so make that sub-Beer-esque proportions.
Kennedy got the first two outs, on a pop-up to Gerardo Perdomo and a deep fly ball to Thomas on the warning track. He got ahead on a 1-2 count to the next batter, but was unable to close the deal, as a fastball was cranked off the fence in triples alley. Crawford then ended the game with a shot to center. According to MLB Gameday, nine of the last ten pitches Kennedy threw were fastballs, and I tend to think his stuff isn’t so good that he can simply blow those past people. Let’s face it though: scoring one run (for the second consecutive game) is not a recipe for success either. IPK may wear the loss, but hitters that went 5-for-31 with no walks should not escape criticism.
Here’s the Fangraph. Readers of a nervous disposition might care to avert their eyes.
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Lyndon B. Johnson: Merrill Kelly, +47.5%
Lee Harvey Oswald: Joe Mantiply, +13.5%
John F. Kennedy: Ian P. Kennedy, -82.3%
If Merrill’s +47.5% is sustained, it will be the highest WP by a D-backs starting pitcher, in a game the team eventually LOST, since May 10th, 2011. The game was, remarkably, also a loss against the Giants in San Francisco. On that day, the starting pitcher was worth +50.7%, tossing eight shutout innings, before David Hernandez took the L in the ninth. The starter’s name? Ian Kennedy.
Not the happiest of Gameday Threads there at the end. But I will award Comment of the Thread to MrRBI17, for an actual SnakePit Limerick.
In the spirit of which, I offer you this recap haiku:
What could possibly go wrong?
Triple, homer, loss.
Same two teams tomorrow, with another 6:45 pm start. Someone will be taking the mound for Arizona, but I’ve lost the will to look up who they might be. May God have mercy on the recapper’s soul for that one. You have fun with it...