Record: 65-61. Pace: 84-78. Change on 2022: +6.
If you weren't ready promptly at first pitch tonight, you might have missed starter Joe Mantiply. But if you weren't, no worries, as you got to enjoy the longest game by innings of the 2023 season at Chase Field. Despite being a bullpen contest for the D-backs, it was a pitching duel that ended regulation tied at one. After a scoreless tenth, the Rangers scored twice in the eleventh, but the D-backs replied with three, capped by a Tommy Pham walk-off double,
A new franchise record was set tonight, as Joe Mantiply's start lasted only five pitches. The previous shortest start by pitches, was 13. That had been done twice. Once was the previous Mantiply appearance as an "opener" last Tuesday. The other was a Madison Bumgarner start on May 4, 2022 in Miami, which saw MadBum's foreign substance ejection by Dan Bellino. Mantiply's outing might have been a five-pitch inning, had the defense been able turn a double-play. But Torey Lovullo opted to go to Scott McGough, with two outs, a runner on first and a tough right-handed hitter up for Texas.
McGough did his job, retiring all four batters he faced, to tidy up the first and get through the second. The first three outs were by the strikeout. Slade Cecconi, the originally announced starter and tonight's designated long man, took over for the top of the third. He had a bit of a struggle, needing 24 pitches and putting men on the corners with one out, but a strikeout and a 99.5 mph lineout allowed Cecconi to escape damage and keep the game scoreless through three. On the other hand, the D-backs offense had barely shown up, with Jordan Montgomery facing the minimum first time through the order.
A one-out walk to Buddy Kennedy had been Arizona’s sole baserunner to that point, and he was immediately erased when Tommy Pham hit into a double-play. The no-hitter was taken off the table by the first batter second time through, when Ketel Marte had a clean single to center. He took second on a passed ball, and (just) advanced to third on a fly out to center. However, Christian Walker couldn't bring Marte home. Though a 100.8 mph exit velocity, with an XBA of .530, which would have been a homer in seven parks, perhaps deserved a better fate.
Cecconi had settled down too, helped by throwing strike one to the first eleven Rangers he faced. He needed twenty-eight pitches for the fourth through sixth innings combined, and retired eleven in a row. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. got Arizona’s second hit, leading off the bottom of the fifth. Unfortunately, Gabriel Moreno hit into an inning-ending double-play. Alek Thomas's one-out single (off a lefty, yay) in the sixth was similarly left there. It did at least mean the game was galloping along, with six full innings taking barely more than 85 minutes.
The zeroes finally ended in the seventh; unfortunately it was the Rangers who delivered. Cecconi sent a 93 mph fastball thigh-high over the middle of the plate, and Adolis Garcia sent it 425 feet onto the home-run porch in left center. Though he wasn't missing many bats, Cecconi got through the rest of the inning. Over five, he allowed one run on three hits and no walks, with two strikeouts. With Slade's ERA down to 2.93, might he get a more traditional start against Cincinnati next weekend? His FIP is higher, with only nine Ks across 15.1 innings. However, after he settled in, there was a general lack of hard contact, outside of the homer. It has certainly been very useful experience for the 24-year-old rookie pitcher.
The Diamondbacks' hitters continued to struggle against Montgomery. Even though Lovullo had stacked the line-up with righties, they were largely unable to solve him. Home-plate umpire Doug Eddings had an expanded strike zone away, and the batters weren't helping by swinging at offerings in that area. Justin Martinez took over from Cecconi in the bottom of the eighth, and his control issues almost cost a run, as a walk and a wild pick off put a runner on third with one out. A strikeout and a fly-out kept the score at 1-0, as the Diamondbacks came down to their last six outs.
Hope blossomed as Evan Longoria, freshly off the injured list, dumped a pitch into the outfield for a lead-off single. Hope was then ruthlessly crushed as Moreno hit into his second double-play of the night. This year, he has hit into 12 double-plays in 56 chances, a 21.4% rate more than twice MLB average (10.2%). A combination of hard hitting, a high groundball rate and only average speed (though good for his position) are likely factors in that number. Miguel Castro came one outing closer to having his 2025 option with a scoreless ninth, and there was good news for the D-backs, as Montgomery was lifted for the ninth.
The bad news, he was replaced by Aroldis Chapman, who had 84 strikeouts in 45.1 innings. Alek Thomas made it 85 in 45.2, but then Marte connected with a 92 mph splitter and heaved it over the fence in left for a game-tying homer (above), Ketel's 20th of the season. That tied things up at 1-1 and sent it to extras. Neither team could score off the opposing closer in the 10th. Paul Sewald kept the Rangers off the board in the top, only for Chapman, in his first two-inning outing of the year, to stop Arizona from walking it off in the bottom half.
A couple of intentional walks weighed heavy in the 11th. Kevin Ginkel took over for Sewald. With the go-ahead run on third and one out, Torey Lovullo put Corey Seager aboard, and he took second uncontested. That mattered, because the next hitter flined one in front of Gurriel in left, and it skittered away for two RBI. Might Corbin Carroll - given the day off on his 23rd birthday - have caught it? He came in as a pinch-hitter the next half inning anyway. No matter. The Royals were 3-1 up, and the D-backs were in trouble. They had not won a game at Chase Field past the tenth inning since April 5th, 2021 when they beat the Rockies 10-8 in thirteen.
Nick Ahmed flew out, and Carroll popped out, sending the D-backs to their final chance. Then, Bruce Bochy made the fateful decision to issue an intentional walk of his own to Marte, and pitch to Geraldo Perdomo. He doubled into the right field corner, though Tony Perezchica stopped the tying run, in the shape of Marte, on third. [In hindsight, likely a wise move, but I might have said something to the TV at the time!] Then, cometh the hour, cometh the Pham, Mr. Intensity split the gap, scoring first Marte, then Perdomo, and the D-backs had their fourth win this year when trailing at the start of the ninth.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Pham-tastic: Tommy Pham, +58.1%
Pham-tuous: Marte, +51.5%; Perdomo, +14.7%; Sewald, +14.1%; Cecconi, +12.6%
Padre fan: Gabriel Moreno, -41.7%
Pham-ished: Kevin Ginkel, -40.5%
Comment of the night to ‘Hacks:
Why, yes: yes, they do. And speaking of which, with results elsewhere, here are the NL wild-card standings at the end of the day:
- PHI: 68-57
- CHC: 65-59
- SFG: 65-60
- ARI: 65-61
- CIN: 64-61
- MIA: 64-62
If we get the same results tomorrow, the D-backs will leap-frog the Giants and be back in a wild-card spot. Zac Gallen starts that game for Arizona, with a first pitch of 6:40 pm.