Record: 70-67. Pace: 83-79. Change on 2022: +5.
The D-backs finished their run of 12 consecutive games against playoff teams with a loss to Baltimore, as Zac Gallen struggled for the second straight start. I had hoped they would go 7-5 in those games. They fell a little short at 6-6, but remain very much involved in an extremely tight wild-card race.
Both teams scored in the first, and though it was the D-backs who went deep, it was the Orioles who came out on top. They got three singles off Gallen: he almost escaped damage, but a two-out stolen base proved key, as the subsequent single gave Baltimore an early 2-0 lead. Arizona halved that lead with two outs, as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. delivered his 22nd home-run of the year (below), setting a personal career high. Depending how the rest of the season goes, Arizona could end up with four 25-homer hitters. The last time the Diamondbacks had that was 2010, when it was Mark Reynolds, Chris Young, Kelly Johnson and Adam LaRoche.
Unfortunately, the Orioles added another crooked number in the second, on three more singles and a walk. Zac's exceptional home form thus year deserted him, with the left-handed heavy Baltimore line-up stringing together hits. Leftie hitters had, not surprisingly, hit Gallen better, though coming into today the split was .710 vs. .620 - not disastrous. It seemed mostly poor location for Zac, even though none went for extra bases. Six hits in two innings isn't a recipe for success, and it took Gallen 50 pitches to get there. Defense may have been a factor, with Christian Walker still bothered after being hit on the elbow, and replaced at first by Pavin Smith. Seems like a couple of hits went through, that our Gold Glover might have had a shot at.
He had a much needed 13-pitch third, and another solo homer from the D-backs brought the score back to 4-2 in favor of the Orioles. This one came off the bat of Corbin Carroll (below), and was his 24th. He probably won't catch Young for the Arizona rookie record of 32, but he could get close to Walker, who hit 29 as a 28-year-old rookie in 2019. The homer may well push him to five bWAR this season. Every National League rookie position player since 2010 to have reached that, has won Rookie of the Year. No D-back in that category previously reached more than 3.3 bWAR - Ender Inciarte in 2014. Carroll could end up with the highest NL rookie position player bWAR since Jason Heyward's 6.4 in 2010.
Gallen continued to settle down, retiring ten of eleven through the end of the fifth. Alek Thomas did commit his first error of the year in the fourth, booting a line drive, allowing the runner to reach second base, though no harm was done. The problem was more on the offense, who didn't get an at-bat with a runner in scoring position from the third inning on Saturday until the bottom of the fifth today. There, Geraldo Perdomo singled and then Matrix'd his way past a tag attempt to put the first two on base for Arizona. Ketel Marte drove in a run with an RBI single, and Carroll took third. Gurriel flew out, just too shallow for a sacrifice fly, and Evan Longoria struck out.
But, wait! During the latter's at-bat, a pitch squirted past the Baltimore catcher and Carroll came home, to tie the score at 4-4. The Orioles went to their bullpen and Thomas grounded out, but after five innings, we effectively had a brand-new ballgame. Sadly, this one didn’t go much better than the original version. Gallen gave up a lead-off double, and one out later, his day was done. The final line: five runs in 5.1 innings in 8 hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Kyle Nelson came in and allowed consecutive singles (you could argue Marte should have done better on the first, though at 102.1 mph, it was hard-hit) then an RBI double, to give Baltimore back a 6-4 lead.
Ryan Thompson took over - I'd almost forgotten he was on the roster, his last and only appearance as a D-back being on August 27th. His first pitch was clanked off the glove off a drawn-in Smith for a two-RBI double, as the bullpen delivered on their contractually obligated stinker per series. Oh, and Smith was 0-for-2 at the plate with two strikeouts, before being replaced by Emmanuel Rivera in the sixth. Get well soon, Christian Walker. Signs are good there, incidentally, for he did come off the bench later in the same inning. According to Baseball Savant, the subsequent fly out went 442 feet and would have been a home-run in 29 ballparks. Sadly, this game took place in #30.
It was that kind of day for the D-backs. Bryce Jarvis and next year's $5 million mop-up man Miguel Castro closed things out on the mound. Castro's last six appearances have all been with the D-backs behind, trailing by an average of 4.3 runs when he entered. I wrote in the GDT about the new, quicker pace of baseball. This game begged to differ, the second half in particular feeling like it was grinding along. Marte tried to do his part in hurrying things along, hitting into a first-pitch double-play after Carroll's second hit of the afternoon. Walker got our third solo HR in the ninth (above). But the failure of the Diamondbacks to threaten made it feel longer than its three hours and six minutes.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Shaun of the Dead: Corbin Carroll, +24.5%
Hot Fuzz: Ketel Marte, +10.2%
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Kyle Nelson, -26.9%
Baby Driver: Gallen, -26.4%; Thomas, -11.8%;
Nothing turned red in the Gameday Thread, and nothing particularly amusing that qualified for Comment of the Thread, so we’ll move on. Arizona were not the only team fighting for a wild-card to lose. San Francisco and Cincinnati also went down, while Miami won. That means there is now effectively a four-way tie between all of those sides for the final NL wild-card spot. We welcome the Rockies to Chase for a three-game set tomorrow, and it's probably safe to say that defeat is not an option. Merrill Kelly gets the start for the D-backs and with it being Labor Day, it will be a 1:10 pm first pitch.