As the D-Backs wind up their final road trip of the regular season - and one in which they’ve seen a little bit of everything weather-wise - there has been plenty of scoreboard peeping during the games. That wasn’t the case this afternoon as they were the only ongoing game and the first of several relevant games.
After a romping victory last night that, combined with a debilitating Cubs loss, placed the D-Backs firmly in the driver’s seat for the second National League Wild Card spot with just five games to go, the D-Back offense cooled off considerably. They only managed a total of four hits in the entire game while gathering an equalizing four walks, but they made the most of their opportunities. Their best one came in the third when they set the table for Corbin Carroll with a bloop single from Jace Peterson and a Geraldo Perdomo walk. Corbin took advantage as he laced a hanging sinker into the right-center gap for a two-run double for a 2-0 D-Backs lead. They added their third and final run courtesy of a Tommy Pham single that evaded Lenyn Sosa’s glove and scored Carroll for the 3-0 final score. Christian Walker, the RBI machine from last night grounded into a nifty double play to Sosa which ended the threat. The D-Backs offense would only scratch out three more baserunners across the following six innings and only managed to get one more runner into scoring position in that period.
Brandon Pfaadt and the bullpen however were up to the task as the rookie continued his rollercoaster first year in the big leagues. In the wake of an ugly outing in the Bronx where he allowed six runs (five earned) against an also-ran Yankees team, the young righty induced an impressive 14 swings and misses across his 5.2 IP outing. He cruised through the first two innings before allowing a leadoff single to Trayce Thompson - one of just five baserunners he allowed in his start. Pfaadt navigated around them with a combination of defense and excellently timed strikeouts. It is another part of the learning process for a rookie with plenty of potential and inconsistent results through his first 19 starts in the big leagues. Moreover, that growth is part of the team’s calculus in the unsurprising (in some circles) move to DFA Zach Davies overnight as they increasingly lean on rookie pitchers in the starting rotation.
The much-maligned Arizona bullpen deserves a special shout out as they kept an admittedly beleaguered White Sox lineup off the board across the final 3.1 innings after Pfaadt was chased in the bottom half of the sixth inning. After allowing a one-out Andrew Vaughn double, Pfaadt excellently fielded a comebacker from Eloy Jimenez but couldn’t complete the play as he nearly launched his throw into centerfield were it not for a nice snag from Ketel Marte. He came back to strikeout Gavin Sheets - one of his eight on the day - before Luis Frias came in to relieve him and induced a flyout from Carlos Perez to end the threat. Torey Lovullo then utilized three separate relievers who posted identical lines (1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 K) to shut the door and secure a much-needed series win.
This D-Backs iteration continues their frustrating, season-long inconsistency as they have followed an impressive sweep of the Cubs with a head-scratching series loss to the Yankees before a solid series win over the White Sox. They will need to improve their consistency if they hope to secure a postseason berth and make any kind of run beyond the wild card round if they do. While we will always remember this year as the breakout for a seemingly inevitable rookie of the year award for Carroll and the dawn of a new generation of Arizona players, it will still be disappointing if the team does not play to its potential in a hypothetical postseason appearance. Regardless, we can still enjoy this season for all of the bright spots it has created for fans and players alike.