One of my favorite parts about baseball is the ability to wipe away the taste of an ugly loss one night with the very next game. In many ways, the ability to do exactly that is what differentiates good teams from serious contenders, the shift that the D-Backs are hoping to make in the next year or two. It may be early in the 2023 season, but these young D-Backs have shown the kind of mental fortitude that has escaped previous iterations of the franchise as they have yet to lose two games in a row *furious wood knocking*.
Drey Jameson, in his 2023 Chase Field debut, struggled with his command in the first as his off-speed pitches seemed to sweep off the plate without getting as many chases as you’d like to see. He saw his seventh pitch of the game popped over Geraldo Perdomo’s outstretched glove by Christian Yelich for a leadoff single. Luckily, he induced a weak infield pop-up from last night’s villain Willy Adames ahead of Rowdy Tellez’s tailor-made double play groundball to end the inning and keep Drey’s pitch count to a very manageable eleven.
The home half of the first started out weird as Josh Rojas seemingly grounded out to third baseman Mike Brosseau, but evidently there was a single lace that interfered with Rojas’ bat and gave the D-Backs their first baserunner. As an aside, I have never loved the rule that catcher’s interference is ruled as an error, but I digress. Ketel Marte, who saw his seven-game hit streak snapped last night, watched a near-perfect slider catch the low outside corner to strikeout ahead of Lourdes Gurriel Jr who promptly cracked Jameson Junk’s third pitch to him for a double down the third base line. Evidently, Rojas did not great a read on the ball as he was only able to move from first to third on the play despite Yelich’s so-so arm from left. No matter, Christian Walker cleaned it up with a sacrifice groundball to make it 1-0 D-Backs before Corbin Carroll was rung up on a very generous third strike.
Jameson clearly saw something on the iPad between innings as he tightened up his command in the second to induce a groundout from William Contreras that Marte made an excellent play on for the first out. Garrett Mitchell was completely fooled and struck out on three pitches ahead of Luke Voit’s two-out single to left field. Marte however quickly ended any possibility of extending the inning with a solo handling of yet another groundball that Jameson induced. Unfortunately, the worms got no rest as the bottom of the second saw ground outs from Jake McCarthy, Alek Thomas, and Jose Herrera sandwiched around a solid single from Geraldo Perdomo.
It wasn’t until the third that things started to get really intriguing. After Joey Wiemer continued his rough series with yet another groundout, Torey Lovullo got extremely heated over Gabe Morales’ game management and was quickly tossed out of the game. Apparently, that fired up Jameson as he quickly set down Brosseau and Yelich on back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.
Rojas began the bottom half of the third with a solid single over Voit’s glove into right ahead of a rare Marte walk (just his third of the year). Gurriel Jr then wasted absolutely no time and took the very first pitch he saw into the first row of the left field bleachers to make it 4-0 D-Backs. Encouragingly, Carroll also took the first pitch of his second AB up the middle for a single but was quickly erased on a groundball that Adames couldn’t quite turn for a double killing.
Thomas then placed the ball right on the right field line - that may or may not have actually been fair – for a double. McCarthy tried to score from first on the play, but an absolute perfect relay play from Wiemer to Turang to Contreras manage to nab him at the plate and minimize the damage. Jameson continued his dominance in the fourth as the Ball State product struck out Adames, induced another weak pop out from Tellez and yet another groundout from Mitchell that kept the Brewers off the scoreboard despite a ground rule double from Contreras
Meanwhile, Perdomo earned a free base to lead off the bottom of the fourth and quickly moved up 90 feet on a serious miscommunication from Contreras who threw to center field evidently thinking that Perdomo was stealing. Herrera was able to move Perdomo up to third on a groundout before Rojas extended his excellent offensive outing with a double that bounced against the left center field wall to make it 5-0 D-Backs. Rojas was unfortunately stranded as both Marte and Gurriel Jr were harmlessly dispatched by Junk to keep the inning from spiraling out of control.
Despite the excellent work to that point, Kevin Ginkel came in to replace Jameson at the beginning of the fifth as he continues to be stretched out to a starter’s workload. His final line of 4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, and 4 SO demonstrates exactly the kind of performance the D-Backs are hoping to see from him on a consistent basis from now on with Davies out for the foreseeable future. Ginkel quickly pitched himself into a jam with a Turang single, wild pitch, and walk to the number nine hitter that could have been even worse were it not for a borderline strike three call to Wiemer. Kyle Nelson came in and cleaned up the mess however with a tidy five-pitch strikeout of Yelich to keep the Brewers scoreless.
The teams traded zeroes in the sixth despite a handful of pitching changes with Hoby Milner replacing Junk whose final line of 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO could have been better, but could also have been much worse in a spot start for the injured Brandon Woodruff. Unfortunately, the top of the seventh got hairy quickly as newly inserted reliever Luis Frias pitched himself into a mess.
It started innocently enough as Frias allowed a Voit single up the middle that not even Marte could complete, and which had to be challenged by the Brewers to overturn the original out call. Turang then bounced a ball between Walker and Marte to put the first two men on before Wiemer worked a five-pitch walk to load the bases with no outs. Brosseau then battled before roping the seventh pitch of the at-bat right up the middle to plate the first Brewer run and made it 5-1 D-Backs. Andrew “The Sheriff” Chafin was then brought in to minimize the damage, but despite jamming the former MVP, Yelich was able to shoot the ball through the left side of the infield to plate two more runs and made it 5-3 D-Backs.
Adames followed with a sharp groundball to Walker who then was able to begin the 3-6-1 double play, but the hustle from Adames nearly kept it to a single out as his foot came extremely close to beating the falling Chafin at first. Understandably, the Brewers challenged the call, but New York upheld the play as there seemingly wasn’t quite enough evidence to overturn the original call. Brian Anderson was then inserted into the lineup as a pinch hitter for Tellez and absolutely smoked the first pitch he saw right back at Chafin, but he was no match for the Sheriff’s reaction time as Chafin snagged the ball right out of the air to mercifully end the inning.
I have often been told (by my father) that getting a shutdown inning following an offensive showing can be even more important than the actual runs scored. Well, if there’s any truth to that axiom, the Brewers failed that today as Gus Varland, inserted back in the sixth, gave up a hard single to the scorching hot Gurriel Jr to leadoff the home half of the seventh. Walker made solid contact on a hanging slider but couldn’t push it into the gap and instead directed into Mitchell’s glove in center. Have no fear – Carroll the superhero is here! The rookie phenom absolutely mashed a hanging slider from Varland for his third homer to tack on two more runs and made it 7-3 D-Backs.
Miguel Castro came in to replace Chafin in the eighth and could have been cleaner as he gave up back-to-back singles to Contreras and Mitchell to leadoff the inning and immediately create a scoring threat. Luckily, Castro was able to regroup and induced flyouts from Voit and Wiemer that were sandwiched around a Turang groundout to work out of the self-created jam. The D-Backs did threaten again in the bottom of the eighth off a Rojas ground-rule double, but groundouts from Marte and Gurriel Jr extinguished any hope of additional D-Backs runs. Finally, Scott McGough, newly activated back off the paternity list, worked a mostly stress-free ninth to earn the NL West-leading D-Backs the win.