Record: 19-14. Pace: 93-69. Change on 2021: +1.
This is the kind of game which causes a recapper to pull out what’s left of his hair, because this has more poorly thought-out twists than an M. Night Shyamalan retrospective. In the ninth inning, the D-backs had a win probability of 99.6% at one point. Later in the same inning, it had dropped to 17.4%. It ended up back at 100%, as Pavin Smith drew a bases-loaded, walk-off walk, and the team ran their record to 12-0 when scoring more than five runs. But if every there was a victory snatched needlessly from the jaws of defeat, this was it, as Scott McGough and Andrew Chafin combined to allow five runs while retiring two batters. There are issues which should not be ignored.
For three innings, my hopes of the D-backs’ first 1-0 victory in four years actually seemed to have a chance of coming true. Emmanuel Rivera had given the home team an early lead with his first home-run of 2023, and Tommy Henry was making it stand up. However, my dreams were sadly dashed when the Nationals scored twice in the fourth. I kinda stopped paying attention at that point. No, wait. I’m recapping this? Yeah. I swapped tonight with Keegan, because Mrs. SnakePit arranged that we’re going out for dinner on my regular recap night of Monday. This error will be discussed during her annual performance evaluation, I can assure you.
Anyway, Rivera continues to make a strong case for why the signing of Evan Longoria appears not to have been necessary. Both these right-handed platoon partners for Josh Rojas were in the starting line-up this evening, Rivera at third-base and Longoria as the DH. But the results couldn’t have been much more different in the early going. First time up, as noted, Emmanuel gave the Diamondbacks and early lead, and he followed it up with a single, getting his average since being recalled up to a crisp .458 at that point. Conversely, Longoria was 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts, to sink below the Uecker Line at .194. “Small sample size” begins to look an increasingly fallible defense.
Dominic Fletcher came into the game with a four-game hitting streak to open his big league career. It was a tough assignment for the left-hander tonight, but he singled in the fourth to extend it to five games. It is now the longest to start in MLB by a Diamondback since Pavin Smith also went five straight to being his career in September 2020. I threw the question of who holds the record for Arizona out in the GDT and there were some interesting ideas. However, nobody figured out the answer. It’s David Peralta, who had 12 hits over his first seven games, when he came up to the big leagues in June 2014. Here’s the list of the ten players who reached four games or more. Obvs, move Fletcher up a few rungs. :)
|Rk||Player||Team||Streak||Streak Started||Streak Ended||PA||AB||R||H||HR||RBI||BB||SO||BA||OBP||SLG||OPS|
|6||Gerardo Parra||ARI||5||2009-05-13||2009-05-20 (1)||24||22||3||9||1||7||2||4||.409||.458||.727||1.186|
Tommy Henry looked good the first time through the (weak) Nationals’ order, but the wheels fell off a bit in the fourth. He walked the lead-off guy, then allowed four straight hits. Fortunately, the Sword of Gabriel (Moreno) had cut down the first of these, after the runner tried to advance on a ball that barely got away from our catcher. Moreno also had a more conventional caught stealing earlier, his eighth of the year. The hits, however, allowed the Nationals to score twice, before Henry settled down and ended the inning, stranding two men in scoring position. He regrouped nicely, and ended up going six innings, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks with three K’s. We’ll take it.
It was the bottom of the sixth where things began to get interesting. Arizona tied the game on singles by Lourdes Gurriel and Christian Walker, the latter a 60.5 mph bloop that died in shallow left, allowing Gurriel to reach third. He then sped home when the ball skittered just far enough away from the Nationals’ catcher, leveling the scores at 2-2. Alek Thomas, who had had a poor game on both sides of the ball to this point, redeemed himself in the seventh with a lead-off triple (above). Not bad, for a ball with a -20 degree launch angle! Ketel Marte drove him in with a single, and the Diamondbacks had retaken the lead in this one.
They were able to tack on three more in the eighth, helped by some underwhelming Washington defense. Corbin Carroll came off the bench to deliver an RBI single, Moreno reached on an error that scored another run, and an infield single by Thomas brought home a third run. With Jose Ruiz and Kyle Nelson combining to retire all six hitters they faced, that brought Arizona into the ninth owning what felt like a comfortable 6-2 lead. Scott McGough took over, and immediately allowed a home-run - his fifth to just the 59th batter he had faced this year. But he did get the next two outs, before walking a batter, to make it a save situation.
Enter Andrew Chafin, and a 98.8% win probability. Single, two-run single, two-run homer, and in 12 pitches, the Nationals had scored four runs to take the lead 7-6. Twice, Chafin was within one strike of getting the save. Instead, he was lifted without retiring a batter, allowing four hits and three earned runs. After last night’s performance, which was remarkably low-stress, the ninth inning was an unmitigated disaster, and you wonder if Chafin’s workload - he’s now on pace for 79 appearances - is perhaps catching up with him. Maybe he should be given a break from high-leverage innings, with the torch going to Miguel Castro who got the final out of the ninth inning.
Gurriel had already enjoyed himself, with three hits on the day. But he had saved the best for last, blasting the first pitch from the National’s closer just over the fence in left field (above). Former D-back and now Nats’ outfielder Stone Garrett claimed fan interference, but after an umpire-initiated review, the original call was confirmed and the D-backs was level again. Walker notched his third hit of the night, Carroll walked, Fletcher bunted them over, Geraldo Perdomo was intentionally walked, and Smith then held his nerve to draw the 10th walk-off walk in franchise history, and the first for Arizona since David Peralta’s on Sep 27, 2017.
It was certainly a contender for Game of the Year, though it really shouldn’t have been. I’d have been perfectly happy with a calm, drama-free 6-2 victory; I will, however, settle for a win, by any means necessary. The decent crowd of 27,345 likely felt similarly. Gurriel had four hits, Walker three, Fletcher, Thomas and Rivera two apiece. Remarkably, despite everything [gestures vaguely off-screen], including 15 runs on 27 hits and 7 walks, the whole contest was complete in just 2:49. It was, however, likely the longest two hours and forty-nine minutes of my life. And now, the Fangraph. Please be sure to keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times...
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
I love you: Lourdes Gurriel Jr, +60.6%
I like you: Smith, +16.6%; Walker, +16.3%; Carroll, +14.7%; Ruiz, +14.3%; Thomas, +12.7%
I hate you: Andrew Chafin, -81.4%
I dislike you: Nick Ahmed, -16.8%
If Chafin’s WP of -81.4% is sustained in the Baseball Reference version, it will be the worst figure EVER by a pitcher in a game the Diamondbacks won. The previous worst was Tony Pena’s -78.7% in this 2008 contest. The Gameday Thread certainly reflected all the highs and lows of this outrageous fortune. Comment of the night to kilnborn.
#WellActually at least THEIR closer did record an out... All’s well that ends well, and I have to confess, I feel rather happier at having swapped a recap of a Zac Gallen start for... this [gestures vaguely off-screen again]. Same two teams again tomorrow. I’ll probably give it a pass, since I’m likely to still be lying down in a dark room somewhere. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to do something less stressful. Nude water-polo in a piranha-infested swimming pool sounds about right.