So WiIliam Shakespeare’s Richard III is not a very good play. In the First Folio it was designated a History, it has also been termed from time to time as a tragedy, but basically it’s a psycho-killer slasher flick with a deeply unsympathetic and homicidal title character. No particularly good soliloquies in it, nothing all that memorable except all that blood, but there is one line, uttered by the title character when all his bad deeds have finally caught up with him in Act 5, Scene 4 and he cries out “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!” No horse is forthcoming, and he promptly gets cut down by Richmond (h/t Grant, my best friend and a professional Shakespeare expert, for his speedy fact-check of my recollection of the play’s denouement). And that’s all she wrote, pretty much.
You will probably notice that I haven’t mentioned any baseball yet, but then you probably also saw the score in the headline, and so you probably understand why. I don’t want to talk about the baseball. Just like Richard III is not a very good play, this was not a very good baseball game. Like Richard III, this was basically a bloodbath. The baseball sucked . It was no fun at all, and it wasn’t even really interesting in its not-fun-ness. Or maybe I’m just out of practice with this sort of game, because there haven’t been many of them this year, and doing Friday recaps I’ve been particularly blessed.
Zac Gallen started tonight, while I was still at work, because we were playing Pittsburgh at PNC Park today, and first pitch was 3:35pm AZ time. I actually had my scoresheet set up and filled out, and I scored the first inning and a half while keeping an eye on my students for the final period of the last day of classes, and when I was able to leave we had done nothing of note against Pirates’ starter Johan Oviendo in the first two innings, aside from a two-out Corbin Carroll walk in the top of the first that resulted in absolutely nothing. On the pitching side, Gallen gave up a leadoff single to Andrew McCutchen, who seems to be raking quite well this year, but then induced a double play and a flyout to right to end his first inning of work with only five pitches thrown.
“We’re good,” I thought, as I packed up and headed out to my car and drove home to begin watching in earnest. I was wrong.
By the time I completed the fifteen-minute (or so) drive home and walked in the door, Gallen had given up the first run of the game, off of back-to-back leadoff doubles that he surrendered to the middle of the Pirates’ order the start off the bottom of the second. He also gave up a two-out walk to Josh Palacios, Pittsburgh’s eight-hole hitter (who wound up having a very productive night when all was said and done), but no more damage was done at that point. 1-0 Pittsburgh
I got home in the top of the third, but missed Dominick Fletcher’s leadoff strikeout (looking at strike three, which may have been valid or may have been due to the crap umpiring tonight, which was pretty much crap), but as I was settling into my easy chair and opening up the first of several appropriate beverages, Geraldo Perdomo got the run back this way:
Geraldo Perdomo with the equalizer!! pic.twitter.com/n2MJG7n6T1— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) May 19, 2023
Aside from a two-out Ketel Marte walk, that was all we got, but we’d evened things up at least. 1-1 TIE
Gallen pitched past another leadoff single to McCutchen to open the third, but escaped without damage, though a couple of the other Pirates he faced hung long ABs on him. He got out of the first having only thrown 5 pitches; he was up to 41 pitches by the end of the third.
We did nothing of note in the top of the fourth, despite Pavin Smith reaching second with two outs on a relatively easy fly ball to left that clanged off the glove of very expensive (in Pittburgh terms, anyway) Pirates left fielder Bryan Reyonds. And then, in the bottom of the fourth, the wheels came very suddenly, and dare I say explosively, off the Gallen bus.
Zac got the first out easily enough, getting Pittsburgh third baseman Ke’Bryan Hanes to fly out to center on the second pitch of the at bat. After that, though....oh dear. A six-pitch walk, two consecutive singles, a hard and tricky grounder to third that Josh Rojas failed to field effectively, and was scored at the time as an E5. Some runs scored in there, I think, and two more walks followed to McCutchen and Reynolds at the top of the Pirates’ order, and then a bases-clearing double, and then finally a strikeout for the second out of the inning. And then the lineup turned over—yes, Pittsburgh had batted around—and Hayes, coming up to the second time in the inning, singled to center, driving in the seventh run of the inning and ending Gallen’s night with a line of 32⁄3 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 4 BB and 2 K. Anthony Misiewicz was brought in to record the final out, which he did, blissfully, on two pitches. 8-1 Pittsburgh
Oviendo, who had been cruising aside from the Perdomo dinger, continued to cruise for a bit longer, pitching around a two-out single to Rojas in to top of the fifth, followed by a Marte walk, to put up another zero. Misiewicz, sadly, was not able to put up a zero of his own in the bottom of the frame, giving up a leadoff single, a two-out McCutchen single (as noted above, the dude is raking....happy to be back in Pittsburgh, it seems), and then a dinger to Reynolds that brought the deficit to ten runs. 11-1 Pittsburgh
We did get into the Pirates’ bullpen after the fifth, but did nothing meaningful enough to make a difference. Some guy set us down in order in the top of the sixth, and then we scratched two runs back in the top of the seventh, thanks to leadoff walks to Gaby Moreno and Dominic Fletcher, followed by a deeply weird popup to Perdomo that dropped on the infield, bringing the infield fly rule into play and resulting in Perdomo being out at first and Fletcher and Moreno advancing to second and third, respectively. I’m not sure if letting the popup fall was ill-advised Pittsburgh strategery or just clown-show fielding, but Josh Rojas doubled down the right field line to bring both of them home. 11-3 Pittsburgh
Luis Frias took the mound for us and worked two innings, which was nice, and put up zeros in the bottom of the sixth and seventh, which was also nice. Two walks and a single were also involved, because Luis Frias, but hey, he kept it
close stable, at least. We did nothing after that weird infield fly rule business, meanwhile, but I guess we made some more of their bullpen arms work, at least a little bit. So we were playing the long game. Yeah. That’s what we were doing. Yes.
The question came up in the Gameday Thread as to why we were rolling Frias out for two innings of work, and someone made the wry suggestion that we were saving Jose Herrera’s arm (our backup catcher, if you are unaware). That joke came home to roost, as Herrera pitched the bottom of the eighth for us, and gave up two more runs, because, well, he’s a catcher, and he was throwing 60mph “sliders” and stuff. I honestly have no idea how those runs got across, not in detail anyway, because I’d stopped updating my scoresheet by that point. My apologies. If you are genuinely upset, please contact my manager. I am sure he will be happy to dock my pay for that dereliction of duty. 13-3 Pittsburgh
We sat down in order in the top of the ninth, ending the ballgame, blissfully by that point. This one wasn’t pretty at all.
And here’s a strange thing, the thing that justified (in my mind, anyway) the long discursion at the beginning regarding Richard III and whatnot—none of our pitchers managed to record a single clean inning. Gallen sat the Pirates down in order in the bottom of the first, as it turned out, but that was after giving up the leadoff single (which makes it not a clean inning). Pittsburgh had at least one baserunner, for a little while anyway, every single inning.
Time was, that might have been unremarkable for us. But it was striking tonight, especially given how effective Gallen has been and also how sporadically effective our various bullpen arms have been. Usually someone puts up a clean inning, somewhere in there. Not tonight. Props to the Pirates. I think they might actually be a pretty good team this year, and in the near future.
Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs
Richmond: Geraldo Perdomo (4 AB, 1 H, 1 HR, +11.2% WPA)
The Horse that Failed to Arrive (Zac Gallen, pitching line above, -38.3% WPA)
Gameday Thread was pretty well-populated tonight, with
198 200 comments overall at time of writing. Several went Sedona Red, but Comment of the Game goes by a wide margin to Justin, for this succinct and entirely accurate response to M_Lopez’s admirably punctuated WTF?!?! query:
Sad but true, and there we are. We are better than this, though. Remember that. This year, I genuinely believe that. So. Tomorrow Brandon Pfaadt, fresh off a very good start where it appeared he was genuinely starting to figure some stuff out, faces off against Pittsburgh’s putative ace, Mitch Keller. It looks to be a tough matchup for us, but please come join us and see if we can’t pull it out. First pitch is 1:05 AZ time. Hope you can drop by.
As always, thanks for reading. As always, go Diamondbacks!