For the most part, the D-backs are a very good baserunning team. They rank 4th above average by Fangraphs BsR but hidden in that data is the fact that Corbin Carroll covers up a lot of the blemishes. Taking out Corbin, the D-backs would rank in the bottom third of teams with a -2.1 BsR. Among the poor runners include everyday guys like Gabriel Moreno and Ketel Marte. It hasn’t visibly hurt the team yet this season to my knowledge, but tonight was one of those times.
Let’s not use that little bit of foreshadowing to gloss over the real star of today’s game, Merrill Kelly. And since coming back from the blood clot in his leg, he’s been a Cy Young candidate with an ERA below 3 and it did not stop tonight. Thanks in part to a very lax CB Bucknor strike zone, Kelly took advantage and was outstanding.
His only blemish was a leadoff double in the 3rd inning that glanced off the glove of Longoria at third. It was a deserved hit, with an exit velocity of 111mph off the bat of Noelvi Marte. But no matter, he’d strike out two of the next three batters and continued to push against Reds’ batters who had no answers for the veteran righty.
The only answer apparently was the Diamondbacks’ offense, who struggled to do much of anything against lefty Brandon Williamson. Despite a runner in six of the seven innings Williamson pitched, the offense could not muster anything until the 7th, when the first 3 batters reached to load the bases with nobody out.
Jace Peterson came on as a pinch hitter for Buddy Kennedy, and to say he has struggled since coming over from the A’s would be an understatement. But he was able to lift a hanging slider to the wall in right field, and the runners were off.
Moreno tagged up on the play and a late stop sign at third with Marte between second and third and Peterson already at 2nd, disaster struck. Marte retreated to 2nd, and Peterson followed by going back to 1st, but Moreno inexplicably took off for home, and was thrown out by a mile with runners at 1st and 2nd.
Alrighty, no problem - we still have a chance at a big inning. Oh, Pham flew out to deep right and Walker flew out as well. 1 run. Dbacks 1-0.
No problem, Kelly has only thrown 86 pitches and should be good for the 8th. Oh no. Kelly is cramping up again during warmups.
In a scramble, Torey calls on Kyle Nelson and wouldn’t you know it, he’d hang a slider to recently called up Nick Senzel who deposited it into the D-backs bullpen to tie the game at 1. A walk to Marte and subsequent stolen base hurt after Castro allowed a single to Stephenson to give the Reds a 2-1 lead.
Thankfully for D-backs fans Corbin Caroll exists and is part of this organization. A leadoff walk to Gurriel brought the Rookie of the Year frontrunner, who stayed back on a curveball and dumped it into right field for a 3-2 lead.
The Paul Sewald experience continued, but he shut the door after a one-out walk in the end to clinch his 7th save for the D-backs since coming over. Hat-tip Hazen for finally figuring out that position.
We have a wonderful shot call in the GameThread tonight, shout-out AzDovs11 for giving Carroll the extra 5 feet he needed for his first homer in a month.
With the win, the D-backs take sole possession of the 3rd Wild Card spot and with three more games against the Reds, it’s imperative they keep this momentum going and keep the pressure on the Cubs and the rest of the Wild Card hopefuls. First pitch tomorrow at 6:40pm.