Record: 47-59. Pace: 72-90. Change on 2021: +14.
Well, that was annoying. As we entered the seventh, the D-backs were holding on to a 1-0 lead, with Merrill Kelly having extended his scoreless streak to 21 innings, tying his career high. Sure. the D-backs had spurned a slew of chances to score more than the one run, but they had been kept in the lead by some crisp defense, and Kelly dialing up ground-balls in a way not seen since Brandon Webb was in his prime. But it turned out this couldn’t last, with the Rockies using anti-small ball, tying and scoring the go-ahead run in the eighth and ninth inning on a pair of solo home-runs. If only they had just singled the other way or something...
It looked unlikely to be a one-run game after the first inning, where the D-backs took the lead in a lighting frame where they got three hits and made three outs in the space of just 12 pitches from Rockies’ starter Antonio Senzatela. Josh Rojas singled to lead things off, but Alek Thomas hit into a double-play on the first pitch he saw. Ketel Marte doubled, and scored as Christian Walker singled to right field, giving Arizona an early edge. However, that was close to it terms of legitimate threats at a big inning for the Diamondbacks. They would only manage one at-bat with a runner in scoring position over the eight subsequent innings. And as we’ll see, that did not end well.
After both sides were retired in order in the second, it looked like Colorado would tie things up, and end Kelly’s scoreless streak, as they put men on second and third with nobody out. Kelly got a K, then hit Charlie Blackmon to load the bases. He then got a ground ball to Geraldo Perdomo, who flipped the ball to Marte on second. Blackmon’s slide into the base was deemed malicious enough to be called as such by the umpires, resulting in an automatic double-play (even though it would probably have been turned anyway). It’s not something you see called very often.
But it was that kind of game, with a total of six double-plays occurring in total, three for each side. It’s among the reasons that this game took a crisp two hours and 33 minutes, which tied it for the shortest contest at Chase Field this season. It also helped that both teams were going up hacking early in the count. The average pitches per PA this year in the majors is 3.90; tonight, the Rockies were at 3.44 and the Diamondbacks at 3.46. In hindsight, the “We’re going to blow this, aren’t we?” moment happened in the bottom of the fifth inning, after Seth Beer and Carson Kelly both went opposite field for singles. Perdomo bunted them to second and third, and Josh Rojas... Oh, just watch the play.
Yeah, this was the Diamondbacks’ second and final AB with RISP today, and dear god, this was an abomination of a play all round. I’ve now clue what Beer was thinking. It kinda felt like he didn’t tag up, looking to advance if the ball dropped in, then after it was caught, inexplicably decided to go back, tag up, and then come home. It wasn’t a deep fly ball to begin with, Blackmon barely left his feet, and Beer is the slowest runner on the team this year, even below catchers like Jose Herrera. Indeed, his 24.7 ft/second sprint speed means there hasn’t been a slower player on the team since Alex Avila in 2019. It was a perfect combination of poor decision-making and worse execution for Arizona.
Still, Merrill was doing business, getting the Rockies to pound the ball weakly into the ground. Over seven innings, he allowed just one fly-ball out. All good things must come to an end. and that applies to Kelly’s scoreless streak. In the seventh, a lead-off double came in to score one out later on an RBI single, tying the game at 1-1. Kelly did get his revenge, by picking the base-runner who drove in the run off first. It was Merrill’s third pick-off of the year, already the most by any D-back since, of all people, T.J. McFarland had three in 2019. And Kelly was back in line for the win immediately, as Daulton Varsho took the first pitch in the bottom of the seventh,sending it into the right-field bleachers for his 16th home-run (below).
The relief proved almost as short-lived, the Rockies tying things up with their first batter, on a solo home-run leading off the eighth, making it 2-2. A single chased Kelly, and his final line of two runs over seven innings, on seven hits and a walk with five strikeouts, doesn’t reflect how he was cruising through the first six innings. Joe Mantiply replaced him, and to be honest, was lucky to strand the runner he inherited. Marte delivered one of the best plays he has made all season to start a double-play with two men on, his snag surely saving a run. In the ninth, enter newly anointed leader of the closer committee, Ian Kennedy. He had clearly been taking notes from Mark Melancon, allowing a go-ahead homer with one out.
Arizona went down in order in the ninth, having successfully snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. If you’re looking for moral victories, the D-backs out-hit the Rockies 10-8, with two hits apiece for Marte, Walker and Carson Kelly. The last-named is now hitting .231 for the season. having batted .354 over his last twenty-five games (29-for-82). The D-backs were unable to draw a walk, though only struck out three times.
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Blitzkrieg Bop: Joe Mantiply, +17.7%
Bonzo Goes to Bitburg: Ian Kennedy, -29.4%
Pet Sematery: Rojas, -15.7%; Thomas, -11.8%; McCarthy, -11.8%
There was a Gameday Thread, but I’m going to go ahead and say nothing turned Sedona Red, because there was not much reason for it to have done so. The rubber game of the series is tomorrow, with a 1:10 pm first pitch, and Zach Davies taking the mound for the D-backs. We’ll see what happens...
YouTube Recap by Michael McDermott