We want rain!
Jim already announced it in the GDT and when the game started it looked like the rain was pouring. Now I have seen and had my fair share of rain when I lived in The Netherlands, although I am probably an amateur when compared to King McLennan. I have always loved playing sports in the rain. My sport when I was young was football, or soccer as you guys call it. Many games were played in the mud, but not one is still so vivid in my memory as one we played in England in a tournament a bit south of London, in Maidstone. It was typical English weather with a lot of rain and cold and we would play on pitches that were more dirt than grass. Teams in England still played the kick and rush we have always been so fond of and I remember that as a captain I had to shake hands with the opposing team’s captain but the guy looked like he had a shite day and was about to eat at least one of us alive. The referee demanded us to shake hands and after that it was war. There were a lot of tackles, the dirt was flying around and after 30 minutes had passed, our green-white Celtic style uniforms were brown and I think we had played the most fun game of our youth football career. I think we lost 3-0 but who cared. This was football.
When I heard Bert and Gonzo repeatedly blabbing about the “difficult circumstances” and praising the “ground crew” yesterday and seeing the rain pour before the game started, I was already fearing that I would have to listen to that same playlist over and over again for this game. Indeed, the first two innings or so were wetty, but after that it looked like the sky dried up around the 2nd inning or so, so for a while there was a no rain game and somewhat of normal commentary.
Now, here is food for thought though. If they could play yesterday and can play today, why cancel rain games? Isn’t it fun to watch these pitchers fearing their own throws? That shaking head of Merrill Kelly and his 40 pitches where he was struggling with command in the pouring rain? The mammoth shot of Estevan Florial that would have flown to outer space in normal weather but was pushed to foul territory because of the wind? And those defenders running all to the same wobbling ball in the air, trying to find out who has the best view and odds to catch it out of the air, if it doesn’t plunge on the field, dancing around from left to right, like a fine country line dance, and eventually dive like Jordan Lawlar did in an extreme attempt to trap what looked like a routine pop out. The best rugby games are in the rain, the best Formula One races are in the rain, and, if you ask me, the most fun baseball games are in the rain too.
Today the Diamondbacks played the Yankees again. You might already know that. And you might also know that the Yankees are one of the most famous teams over the world, without people actually knowing that the iconic NY sign on their cap is of a baseball team and not the city itself. Obviously, being the baseball lover I am, I also like the Yankees. I think it is impossible not to, if you live outside of the USA. The first teams from the MLB you get to know are the Yankees and then any other team they will play. I loved this series for many reasons. Not just because of watching my Diamondbacks and the much appreciated Yankees, but also because of the European friendly starting times and my so appreciated rain.
I think I have reached my minimum quota of characters for a SnakePit post already and I haven’t even written anything yet about the game. So, here we go.
Clarke Schmidt was today’s starter for the Yankees. He has probably been too long in the Yankees’ rotation already. A back-end starter with a 5.00 ERA since the All Star break who gives up a lot of hard hits. Sounded to me like an ideal opposing pitcher to ensure a series win, but then again, we also faced Luke Weaver and lost that one so don’t call me the US baseball team in the recent World Championship.
Still, Schmidt seemed to do exactly that we were hoping for in that first inning.
2-0 Diamondbacks take the lead.
Just like yesterday you had to pay attention to the game immediately. Righty Clarke Schmidt immediately looked to keep up with the hard hits trend in the first inning. Schmidt was a bit all over the place and while Carroll and Pham hit it hard but flew out, Moreno took a walk in between and Walker was the second man on base after getting hit by a pitch. I was shocked to see Alek Thomas walking up as the 5th batter and thought I had missed something. He said yesterday that he was accustomed to playing in bad weather, so maybe Lovullo thought he and his flippers could do some damage. Well, that was surprisingly the case. Schmidt let a cutter catch too much of the plate and up in the zone Alek ripped a line drive to right. Moreno speeded home and was almost caught up by Christian Walker who might have won a 100 metres against Usain Bolt there, running all the way from 1st to home. Thomas, meanwhile, was able to extend his double to a triple. Gurriel came up and I think he laid down a lazy bunt with a man on third. That alone would justify an outright assignment to Denmark (I don’t think they play baseball in Greenland, but in Denmark they do, which in essence is the same because Greenland is a part of Denmark), but maybe I saw it wrong because I was taking out the laundry at the same time.
Merrill Kelly, as mentioned above in the intro, struggled in that first inning. An 11-pitch at bat with LeMahieu ended in a single and Judge walked on 6 pitches. I could hear the New York fire department starting the sirens, but there was no real fuego because the rain was putting it out. Kelly huffed and puffed and took a deep breath and eventually blew Gleyber Torres away and had Wells ground into a much needed double play. But that was around 40 pitches already.
2-2 Yankees tie the game.
The second inning had as much to say as my kids when they are in their beds, but the 3rd gave a bit more to chatter about. First it was Corbin who reached first base when his hopper deflected off Schmidt’s arm. The Yank had to be checked but was able to continue. With two outs Walker walked again and Alek Thomas came to the plate for somewhat of a deja vu. Once again he hit the ball hard, but this time it flew out to centre field, catching too much wind. I am not sure if it would have left the field, but am sure that under nice weather circumstances Alek would have flirted with a 3-run homer. The bottom 3rd was fun as well, with Estevan Florial hammering a meatball. Like we already mentioned, the ball went foul. He still took a walk (and stole 2nd), but the eye-catching play in the inning was by Jordan Lawlar, robbing Judge of a base hit.
Merrill was in the 4th sloppy once again. Had he escaped more damage in the 3rd inning, this time the Yankees were about to take advantage of some poor pitches. First it was Gleyber Torres who doubled on a 4FB straight through the middle. A batter later Austin Wells said goodbye to an inside fastball that sailed into the plate and the moustache men had tied the game. Kelly got the next 3 batters out, one on a challenge and pick-off at first, but the Diamondbacks were back where they started.
Taking the lead and Thompson blows it: 3-3.
In the 5th it was Christian Walker who showed once again that he had flames in his shoes. After dropping a single into centre he stole 2nd base for his first double digit stolen bases ever in the major leagues. Good for you, Christian! Nothing more came of it though (can I get some aaaahws, please!). Weissert had replaced Schmidt for that inning and I give him this honourable mention because I think his moustache actually looked quite good.
Merrill’s final inning was a quiet one too. There was a double in it, but the best play was Lawlar’s little river dance to get the first out.
The 6th inning was once again a quiet one. The Diamondbacks took a breath and took it easy in their part of the inning, while Saalfrank walked the first batter but then got 3 consecutive force outs. The 7th inning was more fun again. After Perdomo grounded out in the first at bat of the inning, Carroll singled on a line drive and stole 2nd immediately after. That is half a run in and we only needed Gabriel Moreno to push Carroll over the plate. You have to love Moreno. Excellent work behind the plate and contributing a lot at the plate as well. This time it was a shot into the gap in the centre.
The Diamondbacks didn’t get to enjoy much time of the 3-2 lead: Ryan Thompson took the mound and his second pitch was a sinker served at the plate. Oswald Pereza sent the puppy out to catch a rabbit in left field and it reached the left field stands with ease, imagine the bomb he launched.
It could have been worse in that 7th inning. The Judge came and he too wanted a piece of the pie. He got one served on his plate and the exit velocity was great, the distance was good, but the bad luck was it had to travel too much and with the wind there was a tiny chance Alek Thomas was able to get it…and so he did it with a nice jump, reaching a bit over the fence, it seemed.
Again taking the lead and Ginkel blows it: 4-6.
So, by now I am pretty much too disappointed to tell you how the Diamondbacks took their third lead of the game, because I am writing this while they are already down again, but I will share that moment of hope and enjoy we all had for a moment. In the 8th inning Ian Hamilton entered the game for the Yankees and he threw sliders like their was no tomorrow except for one hard pitch that hit Lourdes Gurriel on the elbow. I don’t know how you can have an entire elbow after taking that pitch, but the Cubans are made of a different wood than I am. Gurriel took first and was brought over to third thanks to a Rivera double. Marte took the plate for the light hitting Lawlar and walked to load the bases with just one out. Excellent opportunity to knock in a few runs, but Perdomo was rung up on an awesome slider that landed nicely in the upper right corner. But thank heavens we have Corbin Carroll, who hit a single into left field, bringing home Gurriel.
Again the bases were loaded, but Moreno grounded out and left a bad taste in my mouth about the wasted opportunity.
It was time again for the Diamondbacks’ bullpen to blow a lead. This time it was Kevin Ginkel. Ginkel has actually been quite good this year in relief, with 9 wins and 0 losses and just one blown save that eventually ended up in a win. Since July he is deployed more in high leverage situations and not one time was it a fatal outing, but the first one this season had to be today’s. He gave up two real hard hit singles to Torres and Wells. After that he started to throw the ball in the dirt. Constantly. The Yankees weren’t biting. Next time I see a little kid in the park about to get hurt with the parents doing nothing, I will call it a “Lovullo”. Ginkel walked Volpe after allowing the hits. He then got Cabrera to strike out, but afterwards decided to walk in the tying run with a free pass to Peraza. A sac fly from Florial would ensure the first Yankee lead of the game and Ginkel was yanked off the mound. Former Yankee Miguel Castro took it and got the final out, but not before giving up a single and a 6-4 lead to his former team.
That was too tough a pill to swallow and I opened up a bottle of “patxaran” because it was getting close to 10 PM here and this game and result was asking for a drink now. Three D-Backs came to the plate in the Top 9, but it doesn’t matter who because Clay Holmes, the Yankees’ closer, saved the game.
And so the Diamondbacks blew an important game and series and are now tied with the Cubs in the Wild Card rankings.
Well, this was a terrible loss, and the FanGraphs chart quite obviously visualises that, showing a nice Mount Ventoux finish here:
WPA wise, it is no wonder who takes the game and who takes the blame:
Bringer of rain: Corbin Carroll, .285 WPA.
Drizzle: Geraldo Perdomo, -.178 WPA; Ryan Thompson, -.150 WPA; Tommy Pham, -.135 WPA.
Dew: Kevin Ginkel, -.576 WPA.
I think there was a healthy amount of comments for such an early game. The attendance in the GDT might have been even bigger than at Yankee Stadium. People were very stingy with recs. It might be against the rules, but I made this one red, which summarises the feelings really well:
Next up: the Chicago White Sox with more rain awaiting!