Record: 52-42. Pace: 90-72. Change on 2022: +10.
Safe to say, this certainly was not the way the Diamondbacks wanted to start the second half of the season, or what’s probably the toughest road-trip of the year, consisting o nine games against teams in play-off spots. Arizona was swept by Toronto, being outscored by a total of 19-9 over the three games. This afternoon was largely more of the same problems which had plagued the D-backs in the first two games. Weak hitting, base-running blunders and a bullpen meltdown to take any hopes of a late comeback out of the equation. About the only plus was better plate discipline, with the hitters drawing eight walks, compared to a tally of three across the opening two contests
Things started at least somewhat promisingly, the Diamondbacks taking advantage of some free gifts from the Blue Jays. With two outs in the first, Lourdes Gurriell Jr. was hit by a pitch and Christian Walker walked. Toronto starter Yusei Kikuchi then threw a wild pick-off into center, which the outfielder misplayed, allowing Gurriell to steam all the way around from second and give Arizona a 1-0 lead. After a lovely play by Lourdes to end the bottom of the first (below), more aggression on the base-paths with two outs paid off in the second. Nick Ahmed doubled and made the risky decision to steal third. He succeeded, and was this able to score when Kikuchi uncorked a wild pitch.
With the D-backs staked to a 2-0 lead, time for a Tommy Henry shutdown inning. Or not. It was the Blue Jays turn to do damage with two outs. A lead-off walk came around to score on a double, and an RBI single then tied the game. Henry eventually escaped, stranding runners on second and third, but the lead was gone. He’d end up limping through 4.1 innings, as Tommy’s run of success came to an abrupt end. He was charged with three runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out five. It felt like he was pitching behind in the count too often, though there weren’t many particularly hard hits. He left with men on the corners in the fifth. Kevin Ginkel took over, but couldn’t prevent a go-ahead sacrifice fly.
The D-backs rarely threatened after the second inning, not getting a runner past first-base until there was one out in the seventh. Walks to Geraldo Perdomo and Jake McCarthy moved the tying run into scoring position, but Ketel Marte took strike three and, inexcusably, McCarthy was picked off first-base. With a runner on second, that should NEVER happen, and it’s not the only time Jake has been caught there. Ginkel and Miguel Castro had avoid further damage after the departure of Henry, combining for 2.2 scoreless frames to keep the game close. However, Scott McGough has his second stinker of the series, facing five batters and retiring only one of them.
The other four all scored, pushing Toronto’s lead to 7-2. Those insurance runs turned out to be crucial, as the D-backs’ offense finally showed up in the top of the ninth. Again, patience proved key, with walks to Evan Longoria, Perdomo and McCarthy loading the bases, before Marte unloaded them with a three-run double, and suddenly the tying run was at the plate, in the shape of Emmanuel Rivera. He got just under the pitch, delivering a high fly-ball to center, and the Diamondbacks were swept. Truth be told, the final score probably flattered Arizona, who managed only four hits, and came within one out of being held to two runs for the fourth consecutive game.
Combined with a Giants win, the loss dropped the D-backs into third place in the NL West for the first time since April 6th, when their record was 3-4. They still hold the third wild-card spot, half a game behind both San Francisco and Miami. The edge there is by a game over the Phillies, pending the result of that contest against the Padres (they’re currently losing in the fourth). While the Mets’ sweep may have been more painful, we were at least an Andrew Chafin strike away from winning one game. Here, it rarely felt the team was in it. However, the bigger picture remains that the D-backs are still on pace for 90 wins, which would likely be good enough for a post-season berth.
The sooner they get back to playing that kind of baseball though, the happier we’ll all be.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Mr. Blue Sky: Lourdes Gurriell Jr, +17.6%
Blue Monday: Christian Walker, -22.5%
Blue Suede Shoes: Rivera, -12.1%; McGough, -11.9%
There was a Gameday Thread. It was not happy, and nothing came close to turning Sedona Red. I will, however, be cashing in on my “over” wager at the McDermott Casino. :)
Off-day tomorrow, as the D-backs head down to Atlanta, on this road-trip that isn’t exactly getting any easier. We’ll resume on Tuesday night there, with the first of three against the Braves, when the weather is forecast to be about 93 F with 38% humidity. In other words: ick. Zack Davies is the scheduled starter in that one for Arizona.