Especially after last Saturday’s debacle, this one was fun. Coming into tonight, the Chicago White Sox were the better team by far, at least on paper. They started the night standing right atop Mount .500, with a 63-63 record. The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, were 10 games under .500, with a record of 57-67. Merrill Kelly was starting for us, which I was happy to see, because it seems like it’s been awhile since I’ve caught one of his starts, and I always find him a pleasure to watch. That said, given our bullpen woes and our Cheshire Cat offense, even a stellar Kelly start doesn’t and wouldn’t guarantee a positive outcome. I knew that. My expectations, frankly, were not high.
The first inning of the game did nothing to reassure me, honestly. The top of our order faced Chicago starter Davis Martin, a rookie who apparently has been bouncing between the White Sox bullpen and rotation in his first year of MLB work, and came in sporting an ERA in the 4.30 range. Nevertheless, he sat us down in order with only eight pitches thrown. Josh Rojas did hit a leadoff single, but Ketel Marte ground into a one-out double play to erase him. None of that seemed lovely.
Less lovely than that was Merrill Kelly’s first trip to the mound in the bottom of the first. Chicago’s leadoff batter, one Romy Gonzalez, reached on an infield chopper that bounced so high in the air that Gonzalez had pretty much arrived at first base by the time the ball came down. Kelly then induced a grounder to Josh Rojas at second that forced Gonzalez, but there wasn’t a possibility for a double play. Jose Abreu then hung an 11-pitch at bat on Kelly before finally drawing a walk. Kelly got a relatively quick second out before having to deal with another long AB, this one by Chicago RF Gavin Sheets, who saw six more pitches before launching the seventh pitch deep into the right field seats for a three-run dinger. Former Diamondback AJ Pollock put an end to things with a quick flyout to right, but Chicago was very much on the board and Kelly had already thrown an uncharacteristic 28 pitches. Ugh. 3-0 Chicago
Earlier in the season, or on a different night, that might well have been all she wrote. Not today, though. Christian Walker led off the top of the second and drew a walk off Martin. Daulton Varsho reached, two pitches later, thanks to catcher interference by White Sox backstop Carlos Perez, who was appearing in his second major league game. Jake McCarthy followed with a line-drive single to center to load the bases. Carson Kelly drew a walk, forcing in our first run. Martin finally recorded the first out of the frame thanks to Alek Thomas, swinging for the fences and striking out on three pitches. Not to worry, though; Geraldo Perdomo, who tends to be a bigger damn hero a lot of the time than his stats currently reflect, sent a grounder through the right side of the infield into shallow center, plating Varsho and McCarthy and advancing Carson Kelly to third.
Geraldo Perdomo makes it a new ballgame. pic.twitter.com/e0FwlRFW0b— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) August 27, 2022
That tied the game, and also turned over the lineup. Perdomo advanced to second on a wild pitch while Rojas was at the plate. Rojas ultimately drew a walk, and a passed ball on ball four allowed Perdomo to advance to third and Carson Kelly to score the fourth run of the inning. Emmanuel Rivera then grounded out to third, but Perdomo was able to score and Rojas took second on the play. Sadly, for the second inning in a row, Ketel Marte ended things, striking out on four pitches. Nevertheless, we put up a big crooked number in the second inning for the second night in a row, and in the course of doing so we hung a whopping 38 more pitches on Davis Martin. 5-3 D-BACKS
Merrill Kelly, meanwhile, started to settle down after his rocky first. He put up a zero in the bottom of the second, striking out two, with the only blemish being Carlos Perez dunking a single into shallow center for his first major league hit. In fact, Merrill basically cruised after that. He retired the White Sox in order in for the next four innings, striking out five and only surrendering one hit, a leadoff single in the bottom of the fifth to Elvis Andrus, yesterday’s birthday boy, which was erased one out later when Romy Gonzalez ground into a double play. Kelly threw fifteen pitches in the third (when he struck out the heart of Chicago’s lineup), another fifteen in the fourth, and only needed 20 more pitches total to get through the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings. He also made this utterly stellar defensive play on a line-drive comebacker in the sixth that rated its own highlight reel clip:
Even Josh Rojas was surprised Merrill Kelly made that snag. pic.twitter.com/PhnvyRYY53— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) August 28, 2022
Meanwhile, Martin was done for the White Sox after three innings, and in the top of the fourth we tacked on another run off Vince Velasquez, Martin’s replacement. Rivera drew a one-out walk, and Ketel Marte followed with a single into the gap in right-center that allowed Rivera to score from first. Have a look:
Ketel Marte keeps the scoring going. pic.twitter.com/b8WWWK2yay— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) August 28, 2022
Seems kinda weird that Marte couldn’t advance to second on the throw home, but, well, that may just be who Marte is right now. I dunno. 6-3 D-BACKS
Velasquez shut us down after that, pitching through the seventh inning, so it was a very quiet midgame for both teams. That changed a bit in the eighth, as onetime Diamondback Jake Diekman came out of Chicago’s bullpen to relieve Velasquez. Jake McCarthy singled for the third time to lead off, then promptly stole second for the second time in the game. Carson Kelly followed with his third walk of the game, and Alek Thomas grounded into a fielder’s choice, forcing Kelly at second but moving McCarthy along to third. Then, for the second time tonight, Geraldo Perdomo hit a very opportune single to shallow right, driving in McCarthy and giving us a bit more breathing room.
It's a 3 RBI night for Geraldo Perdomo. pic.twitter.com/qXQv4RZO9R— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) August 28, 2022
Despite needing 28 pitches to get through the first, Merrill Kelly was only at 88 pitches after seven innings, so he came out for the bottom of the eighth. He definitely seemed a bit shaky, though, giving up a leadoff single to Elvis Andrus before getting Carlos Perez to ground out to Emmanuel Rivera at third, who made a brilliant barehanded play on the ball followed by a great throw to first for the first out. That was the end of Merrill’s night, though, and Mark Melancon came on to relieve him. and did the Melancon things we’ve come to expect. One out and two hits later, two more runs were in, and Joe Mantiply relieved Melancon to record the final out. 7-5 D-BACKS
The Diamondbacks offense wasn’t done yet, though, as Christian Walker, Daulton Varsho and Jake McCarthy all reached to begin the top of the ninth against Joe Kelly, who took the ball for Chicago. McCarthy’s fourth single of the night was a comebacker that struck JKelly (way, way too many Kellys in this game, as it turned out), and he was removed for yet another member of the White Sox bullpen without having recorded an out. Carson Kelly greeted the new guy, someone with the last name of Lopez, and singled to center, driving in Walker and Varsho. One out later, Alek Thomas hit a sacrifice fly to left that got McCarthy home. Insurance runs sure are nice. 10-5 D-BACKS
Luis Frias pitched the bottom of the ninth for us, and sat the White Sox down in order, and that was that.
A remarkable thing about this game that Jack Sommers shared with me and which our announcers also mentioned as the game was ending was that we scored ten runs tonight without a home run for the first time since 2007.
Another remarkable thing, to me at least because I can’t call to mind the last time this happened, was that our offense stuck around for the whole damn game. We scored in four different innings, and for the life of me I can’t recall the last time we did that.
Our starter struggled in the first, but we picked him up in the next inning, and then we kept tacking runs on as our starter regained his footing. Our defense made no mistakes, and bailed our pitchers out when it was needed. When our bullpen did what our bullpen often does, our defense did the business to put the fire out and then our offense went back to work and got us some more runs to keep the lead comfortably safe.
This was a pleasantly weird game to watch, in that, despite Chicago’s superior record on the year, I wasn’t really worried about the outcome after the top of the second. I felt like we were the superior team on the field today, and while the Diamondbacks are in no way a good baseball team yet, they were tonight, and in their performance I felt like I could maybe catch a glimpse of our future.
Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs
Mt. Vesuvius: Geraldo Perdomo (5 AB, 2 H, 1 R, 3 RBI, +18.1% WPA), Carson Kelly (2 AB, 1 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 3 RBI, +17.9 WPA)
Krakatoa: Jake McCarthy (5 AB, 4 H, 3 R, 2 SB, +11.2% WPA)
A Fart in Church: Alek Thomas (5 AB, 1 H, 1 RBI, 1 K, -13% WPA)
Despised Former Diamondback LOL: AJ Pollock (4 AB, 0 H, 2 K, -4% WPA)
We had a nice and lively Gameday Thread tonight that was pretty active all the way through. with 300 comments at time of writing. By popular acclaim and because, even when we win, gallows humor is the comfort zone of Diamondbacks fans, the Comment of the Game goes to GuruB for the apt observation regarding Ketel Marte’s demonstrated gift for putting a stop to promising rallies:
Anyhow, this recap has gone on long enough. We have sweep potential tomorrow on the south side of Chicago, so bring your brooms and join us tomorrow afternoon for the final game of this series. Zach Davies takes the mound against Chicago ace and apparent Cy Young candidate Dylan Cease. First pitch is 11:10am AZ time. Hope to see you!
As always, thanks for reading. And as always, go Diamondbacks!