Dear Reader, I won’t blame you a bit if you read the TL;DR for this one and go on with your day and enjoy the beautiful May weather. There will be plenty of time for D-Backs baseball through the long, hot (but hopefully not too dry) summer months ahead. This game is one that hopefully fades from memory quickly as a small speedbump on an otherwise unblemished road trip. A road trip, in fact, where the Snakes won three straight series and very nearly swept two out of three of those series. It’s also a larger context that we should all keep in mind through the doldrums of dumb losses like today’s and the extra-inning loss in Oakland last week.
What made today so painful? Did you not watch? I’m serious, I live in the Philadelphia media market and was blacked out from watching the game so all I have are video highlights, a radio broadcast, and Gameday. As Jim quickly pointed out, it was maybe one that I was better off having skipped watching anyway. The pain was intensified by just how promising it began: Gallen was rolling, the D-Backs had a lead just three batters into the game, and Arizona managed to get to the bullpen by the sixth. Joke’s on us I guess as the Philadelphia bullpen bent but never broke - covering five innings of scoreless ball - while scattering seven total baserunners in that period.
That wasn’t an exaggeration either. It took just three batters for the D-Backs to snatch the lead as a Ketel Marte single and Corbin Carroll double set the table for an Emmanuel Rivera sacrifice groundout to quickly make it 1-0 D-Backs. But, as would become one of the game’s themes, the D-Backs left a run on the table with the Carroll double and ended the game hitting a measly 2-for-15 with RISP. Even better, Zac Gallen had returned to form after an awful outing just five days ago against the Pirates. Through the first four innings, he allowed just one hit, but he would start to wobble in the fourth and fifth with uncharacteristic back-to-back two out walks in the fourth and a pair of singles in the fifth, but Gallen was able to snuff out both threats.
Unfortunately, the wobble finally tumbled in the sixth as another pair of singles from Bryce Harper and Kody Clemens prompted Torey Lovullo to pull his young righty ace in favor of Kevin Ginkel. Even more unfortunately, Ginkel promptly gave up RBI singles to Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh to make Gallen’s final line of 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K look substantially more pedestrian. Meanwhile, the D-Backs bats (D-Bats?) were making plenty of noise themselves as they hung a crooked number on Roger Suarez in the third on a two-run Rivera double and a two-run Evan Longoria homer, which created a somewhat comfortable five run lead until the three-spot from the Phils made it 5-3 D-Backs at the end of six.
That remained our status quo until the bottom of the ninth when Jose Ruiz entered in relief for Scott McGough who has slowly, but surely, righted the ship by pitching to a 2.75 ERA over the past 16 games to lower his season ERA from 7.50 to 3.86. Sadly, Ruiz did not have his A-plus stuff today as he swiftly dispatched Brandon Marsh and J.T. Realmuto before allowing a harmless Bryson Stott single to give a scuffling (and booed) Trea Turner to step to the plate and do Turner things:
The Snakes would force extra innings, but meekly went down in the 10th and failed to even move the ghost runner up a base. Predictably, the Phillies immediately pounced on Arizona miscues in the home half as a pair of walks (one intentional and one not) gave the Phillies a bases-loaded golden opportunity and Bohm immediately delivered the first pitch he saw into the outfield for the walk-off. Eye roll
Again, days like today are exactly why I love baseball. Today was a tough, emotional loss that leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth despite the larger context noted above, especially the current record and overall confidence the team has been playing with lately. But the best part is the fact that there’s another game tomorrow that holds the alluring promise of a palette cleanser and isn’t affected by anything that happened today. Until then, we can hold onto context.