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Diamondbacks 5, Giants 2: Nelson breaks the brooms

It wasn’t easy though...

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Record: 47-32. Pace: 96-66. Change on 2022: +12.

This recap is going up a little later than normal. I typically get the bulk of recap written during the game. That’s especially try for a contest like my last recap, on Monday, when the D-backs were 6-0 up by the middle of the first: I could be fairly sure of what tone I needed to take for the recap. Here though? Even if the Diamondbacks led from the middle of the first through the end... it never felt like a sure thing. Right up until the final pitch, with the tying run at the plate, there was always a lurking potential for defeat. Such a doom would have cut the D-backs lead over the Giants to just half a game, with the MLB best Rays next on Arizona’s schedule.

That’s quite a different prospect from the reality which actually took place. Arizona held on, still haven’t been swept this season and sit 212 games up, pending the result of the Dodgers’ game. Sure, we’d like them to have done better than losing the series. But after the first two games of the series, we needed this one, more than I think I’d probably willing to admit. With Ryne Nelson on the mound - a 5.31 ERA and 6-9 in his starts - we needed something special. And something special we got, as he tossed seven innings for the first time since his major-league debut, allowing only one run - that, a score which shouldn’t have been.

As noted in the Gameday Thread, most of Nelson’s best outings have come away from Chase Field. Including today’s season-best 71, Ryne has posted five starts with a Game Score of 60 or better. All of them have been on the road. Conversely, of the six below 40, the only one not at Chase took place in Clown Field, so probably needs to be ignored. I’m not sure why there’s such a difference, but the good news is, his next outing will also be on the road, against the Angels. So whatever it was he doesn’t like about the park in Phoenix, will not be an issue. After today, with eight starts of each, his road ERA is down to 3.07, more than four runs better than his home figure, 7.09.

In particular, he seemed to do a better job today with his secondary pitches. He typically throws a majoity of fastballs, but this afternoon, those were only 42 of his 89 pitches. His change-up was proving particularly effective: he threw 25 and got 7 swinging strikes. In contrast, he had just one on his fastball. He had men on the corners in the first, but after escaping that with a strikeout, it kicked off a streak of fifteen consecutive batters retired by Nelson. It ended on a strikeout wild pitch with two outs in the sixth, which Gabriel Moreno was unable to corral. The runner reached: a walk and RBI single followed, responsible for the only run Nelson allowed. Final line: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO (above).

He needed to be good, because the D-backs offense wasn’t doing particularly much against Anthony Disclafani. Christian Walker doubled in a run in the first - all three games of this series, Arizona wee the first to score - and a Jake McCarthy single in the second drove in Alek Thomas, to make it 2-0 to the Diamondbacks. That was all Arizona would get through seven innings. They didn’t even get another man into scoring position until two outs in the seventh, when a Thomas single sent Walker to third. Gabriel Moreno grounded out, and the score remained 2-1, the D-backs holding a fragile lead as we went into an eighth inning which would prove pivotal in two directions.

The first was Ketel Marte’s 14th home-run of the season (above), a two-run shot with one out in the eighth, that came after McCarthy had drawn a lead-off walk. It came in Ketel’s 73rd game, and represents quite the resurrection in his power numbers, considering he had only 12 home-runs in 137 games last season. His OPS on the season is now up to .891, and his overall value is on pace to be in-line with his 2019 output of 6.9 bWAR, when he was an All-Star and finished fourth in MVP voting. Speaking of which, Corbin Carroll went 0-for-5 for the second consecutive day. Mind you, so did Eury de la Cruz, so what is Sports Center going to talk about tonight?

It’s conceivable that we may look at the bottom of the eighth as a pivotal moment. While 4-1 down, the Giants threatened against the D-backs bullpen. A one-out single off Andrew Chafin advanced to second on a groundout, and Scott McGough took over for a four-out save. A single immediately cut the Arizona lead to 4-2, and a walk put the tying run on base. A hard smash down the third-base line was stopped from going into the left-field corner by Evan Longoria, but still would have put the tying run in scoring position. Except the man on first thought the ball had got past Longoria, and kept right on motoring round second, becoming an inning-ending and very welcome TOOTBLAN instead (below).

McGough did eventually pick up his sixth save of the year, around a single and a walk. Oddly, he has yet to get a save by recording three outs: they’ve all been either two, four or six outs so far. While this one was certainly more nervewracking that we’d like, it’s the “Sv” by his name which matters. The Diamondbacks outhit the Giants 10-6: Thomas had three hits, with a pair apiece for Marte and Walker, both of whom also drew a walk. The win will make for a happy flight back to Phoenix tonight, and a very welcome off-day tomorrow, ending a streak of 17 games on consecutive days for the team, in five different cities. They’re still in first place.

Click here for details, at
Admiral Nelson: Ryne Nelson, +33.4%
Nelson Mandela: Marte, +15.8%; Walker, +13.9%
Baby Face Nelson: Gabriel Moreno, -11.3%

A robust 267 comments in the Gameday Thread, most of them coming in the later innings, it feels like. Only a couple of Sedona Red ones, with the most rec’d going to ‘hack. No real explanation needed.

A day off tomorrow (which is partly why I’m recapping this - I may also have been bribed with the promise of elk meat!) before another tough test, in the shape of the Rays. Zac Gallen will start the opener there on Tuesday night. So we got that going for us...