Just a day after getting absolutely demolished (feel free to commiserate with all the ugly details over at Dano’s recap), the D-Backs’ bats looked shell-shocked and left their offense in the first game of the series. Then, suddenly, they found late life to come off the mat and force extras. But just as suddenly, the D-Backs fell back flat - metaphorically and literally- to let a winnable game slip away while showing an ennobling level of perseverance.
For much of this game, it was a one-sided pitching duel as Merrill Kelly struggled with his command throughout his six innings. Most worryingly, he allowed four walks in the outing - his highest walk total since a mediocre start against the Padres on April 22nd. Even still, while Kelly wasn’t up to his usual stellar standard, he showed an impressive level of mental fortitude completing those six innings given his lack of command and early game struggles. No, this loss can be pretty easily pinned on some sloppy defense and the offense’s inability to find the big, timely hit as they finished the game with a miserly 1-for-11 line with runners in scoring position. Ranger Suarez undoubtedly deserves credit for keeping the D-Backs off balance and bearing down every time he worked himself into a jam as he only had one clean inning across his seven inning start.
The Phillies got their first two runs in remarkably similar (and mundane) situations: get a runner to third with less than two outs and bring them home on groundouts that should have been double play balls were it not for the batter beating out the throw. There was a leadoff triple from Bryson Stott in the second who came home on an Edmundo Sosa groundout. Then, in the very next inning, Trea Turner slapped a four-seam fastball down the right field line for a leadoff double and moving up to third on a sac fly before scoring on another sacrifice groundout. They also added an insurance run on a J.T. Realmuto solo homer off a hanging curveball in the sixth - just the ninth home run allowed by Kelly this season.
Meanwhile, the D-Backs could not put together enough productive at-bats to have the same success. They managed to create baserunners in every inning except the seventh, but they must have been using a different contractor than the Phillies as they failed to manufacture any runs through the first seven innings (rimshot). However, as soon as Suarez exited the game after the seventh, the Answerbacks swiftly earned their name with a leadoff double and walk from Jake McCarthy and Geraldo Perdomo respectively to set the table for some of the hotter hitters in the lineup. Instead, Emmanuel Rivera and Lourdes Gurriel Jr failed to move the runners up and put the D-Backs on the brink of squandering another scoring chance until Christian Walker stepped to the plate and did Christian Walker things:
Miraculously, the D-Backs had new life with a tied game late, but they couldn’t breakthrough off scoring chances in the eighth or ninth to send us into the always dangerous extra innings. And once again, the Phils created their own offense - with the help of one of the more boneheaded defensive miscues of the year - in the 10th capped off by Nick Castellanos’ sac fly to give us our 4-3 final score. Most frustratingly, Torey Lovullo bided his time bringing in offensive reinforcements until the 10th when he deployed Gabriel Moreno and Corbin Carroll consecutively. Unfortunately, neither of them could find the late-inning heroics to rescue the D-Backs’ chances.
It is worth remembering that despite their current record, this Phillies team - and especially their offense - is very talented and quite deep. So there is certainly some consolation to the struggles the D-Backs pitchers have had in consistently getting Phillies batters out in this series. But today’s series finale should act as an excellent measuring stick for both teams. Can the Diamondbacks flush away the bad vibes of the last two games to secure a split and show the kind of resilience they’ll need to demonstrate as they push towards the first playoff appearance in six years? Or will the Phillies march into Phoenix and win the four-game series to crawl above .500 for the first time since May 13th? There’s plenty at stake so come join the GameDay Thread!