With about 9 days until the trade deadline, the Arizona Diamondbacks need a clearer answer about whether they are contenders or pretenders. 4-5 in their last nine doesn’t create any clear indication about whether the team should be selling. A very winnable game against the Baltimore Orioles starts us off towards finding that answer.
The first inning would be all Diamondbacks as the only Baltimore Oriole to reach was Hanser Alberto on a liner to center. A Ketel Marte single was the first hit of the night for the Diamondbacks followed by an Edurado Escobar triple on a 90.4 mph fastball. A single from Christian Walker would score Escobar and bring former Orioles great Adam Jones to the plate. Jones was also able to reach on a single. After a Jake Lamb strikeout, Nick Ahmed brought home Christian Walker on a single to center. The piece of hitting was great as the infield was slightly shifted towards the right. Nonetheless Ahmed found a way to drive in the run. which works especially well down the road in the dog days of summer. After a Carson Kelly walk, Robbie Ray grounded out to end the inning.
Because it is the Arizona Diamondbacks....the second inning was an inverse of the first for both squads. Anthony Santander reached on a single and Pedro Severino walked. Stevie Wilkerson moved Santander over to third with a line out to right field. Richie Martin was able to fling a single to score Santander and move Severino to second. A decent sacrifice bunt was able to do the job as Aaron Brooks moved Severino and Martin to third and second respectively. A ground out from Jonathan Villar would end the inning but it was not an easy out as Jake Lamb had to fully extend himself to make the play. Lamb has had a rough year in some ways and has shown the flashes that all Diamondbacks are searching for. In the bottom of the second the only batter to get on would be Ketel Marte with a single to center.
Lamb makes this look easy! pic.twitter.com/qqqpsDB1ZW— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) July 23, 2019
The third inning would start with a loud thud as Hanser Alberto and Renato Nunez were the only two Orioles to reach both on singles. Doubles from Adam Jones and Jake Lamb would start the bottom of the inning. A wonky Nick Ahmed fly out that revolved around Stevie Wilkerson making the play and Hanser Alberto being assigned an error for a misplaced catch. A Carson Kelly ground out brought Jake Lamb around to score as the inning ended a batter later with Robbie Ray grounding out.
The fourth inning was all Diamondbacks again as another Richie Martin single was the only action for the Baltimore Orioles. A two out triple from Eduardo Escobar got the inning started late as Christian Walker and Adam Jones would add a walk and a single.
Guess who just tripled AGAIN!!! pic.twitter.com/7KVpzHKUd2— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) July 23, 2019
The Orioles would get a little momentum back as Hanser Alberto and Renato Nunez homers made a loud bang. A Robbie Ray single was the only hit of the inning for the good guys. The Orioles went down 1-2-3 in the sixth as the Diamondbacks almost followed suit if not for a Ketel Marte walk. The rapid innings continued as both squads were downed 1-2-3 in the seventh.
Was rather interesting to hear the radio broadcast slowly build up the large amount of scouts at the game tonight. One could say it was simply for Robbie Ray but the Orioles also have some pieces and they are in the market to get younger. Makes you think about the conversations other teams may be having with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The eighth inning brought about some defensive changes as Eduardo Escobar moved to third from second base, Ildemaro Vargas replaced Yoshi Hirano and Stefan Crichton replaced Jake Lamb (essentially). Much to some surprise Crichton was able to mow through the Orioles lineup with ease as all three grounded out to end the top half of the eighth as his sinker was located well to get the Orioles batters off balance.
Positive: Eduardo Escobar 11.8%
Negative: Aaron Brooks -31.0%, Jonathan Villar -13.8%
You know it is a good offensive night when someone fresh off the bench gets a knock and Ildemaro Vargas was that Diamondback. A middle up 94.4 mph fastball from Branden Kline resulted in a double. Jarrod Dyson was able to move Vargas to third. But a Ketel Marte strike out, an Eduardo Escobar walk and a Christian Walker strike out ended the eighth for the Diamondbacks.
Crichton was a surprise tonight as he was able to pitch how one should against this lineup. As mentioned before, his sinker was around 92-93 mph and it was working in the zone. A little fun fact about Crichton would be his acquisition. He was an Oriole that was dealt to the Diamondbacks for cash considerations. We can argue his merit for being with the club over guys like Jimmy Scherfy all day long, however this was not a horrific find by Mike Hazen and company. Which leads to the main point: with the Diamondbacks most likely not being traditional “buyers”, one has to look at the situation and feel comfortable with whatever strategy the front office has up their sleeves.
Greg Holland replaced Crichton in the ninth and made easy work of Stevie Wilkerson for the first out of the inning. Dwight Smith Jr. would pinch hit for Richie Martin and deliver a single. Chris Davis came off of the bench and replaced Miguel Casto, striking out on an 84 mph slider from Holland. Jonathan Villar was the last chance for the Orioles as he was able to draw a 3-2 count. However he struck out on a great slider from Holland to end the game.
After a disappointing series to the Milwaukee Brewers, the softer part of the schedule started off on good footing as Robbie Ray delivered a good performance and the offense held up its end of the bargain.
Thank you to all of you who contributed comments to todays game chat!: AzCutter, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Rockkstarr12, Sean Testerman, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, Sprankton, asteroid, edbigghead, suroeste