If a Diamondbacks game in 2021 began with our starting pitcher walking three, throwing 36 pitches, and surrendering a grand slam (to a former Diamondback, no less), I would likely have said, “It must be Tuesday.” I would have assumed that the game was basically done, another abject defeat a foregone conclusion, and I would have to watch it in its entirety and write it up, and it would kinda suck.
I am happy to report, though, that it is no longer 2021, and in fact we’ve moved into a new sort of fandom now, one that is still not entirely comfortable for me and one that I am still getting accustomed to. The reason, simply put, is that the 2023 Diamondbacks don’t suck. In fact, we’re really very good. We’re one of the best teams in baseball, and certainly one of the best teams in the National League, and we have been throughout and it’s already June and we still can claim that. We may well finish out the night with the best record in the National League, and we definitely finish with sole possession of first place in the NL West—Cincinnati came back from an 8-6 deficit to walk off a 9-8 win versus the hated Doyers, and as I’m writing this the Mets are leading Atlanta 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth, and they may well hang on to win that one.
But enough scoreboard-watching, which VeeLoh argued very fluently and persuasively in the Gameday Thread that we should not be doing right now. The scoreboard at this moment in time is not what you are here to read about, I expect. Let’s talk about this ballgame.
We actually staked Tommy Henry an early lead in the top of the first off of least-bad-Nationals-starting-pitching-option Jake Irvin, with Ketel Marte singling up the middle with one out, advancing to second on a two-out Christian Walker walk, and getting driven in by Emmanuel Rivera, who was DHing tonight, on a single to right. Huzzah. 1-0 D-BACKS.
I’ve already previewed the bottom of the first for you, so I’ll try to boil it down relatively succinctly. Washington right fielder Lane Thomas singled to left to lead off the game after he got to a full count against Henry. One out later, Henry issued back-to-back walks, with Thomas stealing third somewhere in there. Henry, honestly, was all over the place with his control, and as the inning looked like it was beginning to unravel, he wasn’t settling down and he wasn’t getting better. Stone Garrett, whose name you might remember because he spent some time with us last September as a bat-only outfield prospect, then got his revenge by launching a grand slam over the wall in left center field. With the bases cleared, Henry chilled out maybe a little bit, recording a second out before walking his third batter of the inning, and then finally striking out Alex Call, the Nats’ center fielder and eight-hole hitter, to end the protracted pain. Henry threw 36 pitches in all, only 17 of them for strikes. It was ugly. 4-1 Washington
Jake McCarthy and Geraldo Perdomo drew back-to-back one-out walks in the second, and both advanced into scoring position on a Pavin Smith fly ball to deep center, but they wound up standing there as Marte grounded to first to end the inning.
To his credit, Tommy Henry looked like an entirely different pitcher when he came out for the bottom of the second. His confidence and composure seemed absolutely shattered after that first inning of work, but he came back out, retired the Nationals in order, and needed only seven pitches to do it. He did the same in the third with twelve more pitches thrown, and despite giving up a leadoff double to open the fourth, put up another economical zero and only threw eight more pitches there. So after the 36 pitch first inning, he was through the fourth with only 63 pitches thrown overall. Way to settle down and get your head back in the game, kid.
Meanwhile, after sitting down in order in the top of the third, we took a chunk out of Washington’s lead in our half of the fourth. Josh Rojas led off with a bunt single that Irvin misplayed, flipping sloppily in the direction of first base and allowing Rojas to take second on the error. Gaby Moreno singled to right, scoring Rojas from third. After McCarthy lined out to left and Perdomo fouled out after an epic twelve-pitch battle with Irvin, Pavin Smith actually contributed something of value for the first time in this contest with an RBI single to shallow center:
Pavin Smith tightens the score. pic.twitter.com/Hvn85A3tpu— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) June 7, 2023
Marte flied out to left to end things, but we’d narrowed the gap some, which is what good teams do. 4-3 Washington
Corbin Carroll led off the top of the fifth for us, and did his best imitation of Perdomo’s 12-pitch battle the inning before. He only made it nine pitches before getting clipped by an Irwin pitch up on his hands that gave him first base. Irwin got the hook, there, and was replaced by one Erasmo Ramirez, who has a brilliant first name but who does not seem to be a very good pitcher. Ramirez promptly plunked Walker with the first pitch he threw, committed a balk, and then walked Rivera to load the bases with nobody out. Rojas hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Carroll. Moreno then singled to right again, scoring Walker and advancing Rivera to third. Another sacrifice fly, this time from McCarthy, plated Rivera:
Perdomo then singled Moreno to third, earning the hook for Erasmo and bringing in Colorado starting rotation castoff Chad Kuhl to pitch. Perdomo stole second base, but another Pavin Smith fly ball to center ended the inning. Yay, though. Second crooked number in a row. 6-4 D-BACKS
Tommy Henry started the fifth, and given how he’d settled down after the grand slam, I was hopeful that he’d get through the inning, and maybe even the sixth as well, given that we now had the lead and he was only at 63 pitches at that point. But alas, it was not to be. Lane Thomas, who had led off the game with the single that got that whole grand slam mess started, homered to left center on the third pitch he saw. Luis Garcia, Washington’s second baseman, followed with a single to left, and after recording one out on a fielder’s choice grounder that got Garcia at second, Henry punked a batter of his own, hitting Nat’s thrid baseman Jeimer Candelario on the seventh pitch of that gentleman’s at bat. Torey came out and took the ball from Henry, and Jose Ruiz recorded the final two outs in short order with no further damage done. 6-5 D-BACKS
Meanwhile, now that we were into Washington’s bullpen, which seems to have to left-handed relievers and is just generally exceptionally bad, so we continued to put up crooked numbers for another couple of innings. Marte reached on an error by Washington shortstop CJ Abrams to lead things off, after which Kuhl walked Carroll on four pitches. Walker flied to right, with both runners tagging and advancing into scoring position. Rivera walked again, to load the bases again. Then Josh Rojas hit an actual, legitimate hit, like into the outfield and stuff, to score the lead runners and advance Rivera to third:
Sadly, Moreno couldn’t make it three RBI singles in a row, as he grounded into a double play to end the inning. Nevertheless. 8-5 D-BACKS
That was the top of the sixth. In the top of the seventh, Jake McCarthy led off with a single to right, Perdomo drew a walk, McCarthy got cut down in the midst of an abortive double-steal in what was maybe a TOOTBLAN but which felt more like really aggressive baserunning going inevitably awry for once. We had been running wild on the Nationals—Jake McCarthy racked up two SBs, Carroll had one, Perdomo had one, and Rivera had one that was initially scored a stolen base but then was changed to defensive indifference. But we were pushing it, and I think it’s good to do so, even if it doesn’t always work out.
Anyway, the lineup had turned over for Pavin Smith, who hit a third fly ball to center field, this one finally deep enough to get over the fence and also give folks the chance to opt for elective dysentery tomorrow thanks to the Free Jumbo Jack promotion:
2-run dinger for Pavin Smith! pic.twitter.com/bJ6QMqIy78— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) June 7, 2023
And that’s pretty much it, aside from the bullpen, of course. Our bullpen. The bullpen that pitched more than half the game, and put up zeroes all the way along, with 12⁄3 from Jose Ruiz, 1 IP from Scott McGough, 1 IP from Kyle Nelson, and 1 IP from the Gink. All good. This is what good teams do when they get into a grand slam-sized hole in the bottom of the first. They dig their way out.
Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs
Tiger: Gabriel Moreno (4 AB, 2 H, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, +18% WPA)
Tiger: Emmanuel Rivera (3 AB, 2 H, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, +14% WPA)
Tiger: Corbin Carroll (3 AB, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, +13% WPA)
Tiger: Josh Rojas (4 AB, 2 H, 1 R, 3 RBI, +10.1% WPA)
Goat: Tommy Henry (41⁄3 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 HR, -41.9% WPA)
To be fair, Henry showed a lot of good stuff tonight, I think, after that disastrous first inning, but still, that -41.9% WPA don’t lie. So there you are.
Very lively Tuesday afternoon/evening Gameday Thread, with 273 comments overall at time of writing. Three comments seem to have gone Sedona Red, but one of them was Jim’s and one of them was mine, and the best sentiment captured by any of them is really GuruB’s, which speaks for itself and upon which I am happy to bestow CotG honors:
Stop by again tomorrow, if you dare, as Zach Davies takes the mound for our side. If you’re feeling nostalgic, former Diamondback and current highly-priced-but-underachieving lefty Patrick Corbin goes for Washington. Another early game, because they do not have permissive bedtimes in the nation’s capital, I guess; first pitch is once again 4:05 AZ time. Hope you can join us.
As always, thanks for reading, and, as always, go Diamondbacks!
[SCOREBOARD-WATCHING UPDATE: Sadly, the Mets were not able to hang on, and lost to Atlanta, 6-4. So we’re 1⁄2 game off of the best record in the NL, with a winning percentage of .590 to Atlanta’s .600.]