Record: 13-11. Pace: 88-74. Change on 2022: +2.
There are games where I can start the recap about the third inning. Sure, I may end up rewriting it, but the tone of the contest is usually fairly well-established by that point. Tonight was not one of those games. It was one which felt like it could collapse into chaos on either side in the blink of an eye, right up until Andrew Chafin locked down the win with the tying run in scoring position. The Royals came into Chase Field tonight in possession of what would be the worst record in the majors, if the A’s hadn’t apparently given up all hope. However, this was every bit as tough a contest as the final score would indicate, as well as the way in which the decisive run scored: a 30.4 mph squibber by Nick Ahmed.
It marked the debut this season of starter Tommy Henry, who was called up by the D-backs to take Madison Bumgarner’s spot in the rotation, even though he replaced Drey Jameson on the roster. There was some speculation that the team might just go with four starters for a bit, due to the presence of off-days in the schedule. However, Torey Lovullo said before the game tonight that this is not the plan, so we’ll see what happens when Jameson’s spot in the rotation comes up next. That looks like it will be on Saturday... in Denver against the Rockies. Good luck to whichever sacrificial lamb gets to make their first start in Clown Field.
Tonight, Henry was... Well, we won, didn’t we? The D-backs fell behind to the second hitter of the night, who clobbered a pitch 412 feet into the left-field bleachers for an early 1-0 Kansas City lead. It seemed to scare Henry out of the strike-zone as he threw the next nine pitches for balls, walking two batters. A stern word from Brent Strom calmed Tommy down, and he escaped damage. A lead-off walk to new leadoff hitter Geraldo Perdomo went for nothing due to a Ketel Marte double-play, but after a clean inning by Henry in the second, the AnswerBacks did so, scoring twice in the second. Alek Thomas got them on the board with a sac fly, and Perdomo got an infield RBI single (above) to make it 2-1.
The Royals were unfazed, and tied things right back up with two outs in the third, as a double was followed by an RBI single. But if Henry was struggling with his control a bit, Royals’ starter Brad Keller was all over the place. The former D-back (he was our 8th-round pick in 2013, but never got above Double-A here, before becoming a Red in the 2017 Rule 5 draft) walked six D-backs in just four innings. And, don’t forget, Arizona has been the team LEAST likely to walk in the majors so far this season. Walks in the third to Corbin Carroll and Lourdes Gurriel both came around to score, on a single by Pavin Smith (below) and a Gabriel Moreno chopper ground-out.
Henry couldn’t qualify for a decision being lifted with one out in the fifth and a runner on first. He walked four batters in 4.1 innings, with just one K. He allowed three runs on four hits, since Kyle Nelson wasn’t able to stop the inherited runner from scoring. He allowed a single and double to the first two batters faced, making it 4-3 to Arizona, but was then able to strand the men on second and third with one out. That was the end of scoring until the eighth, with Scott McGough (five outs) and Miguel Castro (three) keeping the D-backs’ one-run lead. Arizona weren’t able to score either, wasting a chance in the sixth when Jake McCarthy was caught stealing home, though Perdomo may deserve more of the blame.
Remember how Andrew Chafin used to have a reputation for walking the first batter he faced? 2018, he did so 14 times in 77 games. That clearly hasn’t changed. He came in to relieve Castro during the top of the eighth, after the latter gave up a one-out single, and promptly walked his first hitter on four pitches. After tonight, he’s 4-for-11 in that category, and as has been a bit of a tendency lately. that walk hurt the Diamondbacks. An RBI single immediately followed, tying the game at four. Chafin then regrouped, getting back to back strikeouts to stop the rot, but Arizona needed to score again. And they faced Aroldis Chapman, who had pitched eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball in 2023, with 15 K’s.
A timer violation may have helped them do that. During Christian Walker’s one-out plate appearance, the umpire warned Chapman about not pitching until the hitter was ready. Something then happened - I’m still not sure what - but led to a penalty ball on Chapman. Walker ended up walking, becoming the team’s season-high eighth base on balls of the night. Gabriel Moreno singled him to third, and Nick Ahmed’s low-velocity cue shot was good enough for Walker to slide over home-plate (above). Chafin stayed in for the ninth, working round a one-out single and a wild pitch to nail down a five-out save on 35 pitches. His previous season-high was 18, and it was Andrew’s longest outing in almost six years.
Two hits and a walk for Perdomo, on a night where he took over at the top of the order for Josh Rojas, who had a scheduled day off. Smith had two walks, and Gurriell drew two walks, scoring both times. Only 9,815 at Chase Field for this one, the first game to be down in four digits since a couple of weekday contests against the Marlins last May. With the Dodgers idle, it allowed the D-backs to reclaim sole possession of first place in the NL West.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Royal Flush: Pavin Smith, 18.6%
Crown Royal: Ahmed, +16.8%; McGough, +15.6%; Moreno, +13.9%; Perdomo, +11.7%;
Royal Pain: Evan Longoria, -13.7%
Let Them Eat Cake: Jake McCarthy, -12.5%
Comment of the night to ‘Hacks, though not for his most rec’d one. I was slightly more tickled by this:
I will, however, be keeping Dano’s and LeftFieldCorNWer’s recap title suggestions in mind, for future consideration! Tomorrow, it’s the same two teams, with Ryne Nelson starting for Arizona.