Diamondbacks 5, Mets 6: AZ tests negative for winning streak
Tonight’s contest at Chase Field began with bad news. The two TV announcers, play-by-play man Steve Berthiaume and color analyst Bob Brenly had tested positive for COVID, and were therefore not in the booth. We wish them both a speedy recovery. This will make a few days a little nervous. I assume they were traveling with the team on the recent road trip. Let’s hope the outbreak doesn’t go further than the broadcast team.
As for the game, it’s a bit of everything that has both troubled and encouraged the Diamondbacks in the first 13 games. Solid starting pitch? To verify. But also a struggling veteran reliever. Issues with runners in scoring position. Sure. On the other hand, a home run in the ninth inning, where all hope seemed lost. Again, some unmade defensive plays that maybe should have been. At the end of the nine innings, you would have had a hard time saying the Diamondbacks deserved to have won it. But they hardly deserved to lose either. So it was probably a reasonable outcome that it was decided in extras.
It gets WAY ahead of us though. It started with us watching but not listening to the game. Nothing against emergency commentators. But since the whole COVID thing started, we’ve been listening to a lot more music. Especially on Twitch where you can find DJs in all genres. Friday nights became DJ Bueller and DJ Slave1 nights. Why let a substitute recap get in the way? The soundtrack for this competition was therefore a mixture of 80s new wave and hard dark dance. Curiously, these two elements didn’t seem inappropriate to the action unfolding on the pitch.
At first, starting pitchers dominated. Zac Gallen’s first three runs were as dominant as I’ve seen in a long time. He retired all nine Mets, to be perfect the first time in command. This included six strikeouts, five of which were consecutive. Meanwhile, Mets starter David Petersen was less dominant, but considerably more efficient: his pitch counts per inning were 10, 10, 14, 11 and 11. But Arizona was able to take the lead in third . Pavin Smith doubled to lead things, got third on Jose Herrera’s first hit of 2022 (this will look like a line drive in the logbook. It wasn’t) and returned to home on Cooper Hummel land.
But after going through three innings, Gallen hit traffic in the fourth, when he was expected to throw 31 pitches. Opponents of the change would have found plenty to shake their heads sadly in the frame, starting with a starting double that was thrown across the largely unoccupied left side of the infield. One out later, Pete Alonso threw an RBI single down the shallow right, which could have been caught either with a competent right fielder, rather than Pavin Smith, or if Ketel Marte had played a conventional 2B spot. It should also be mentioned that Gallen was hosed down by plate umpire Rob Drake who blew out a strike from the first pitch. It was one of many terrible calls from Drake that night.
Gallen made the fifth, but was lifted then, having thrown 79 pitches. He allowed a run on two hits and a walk with seven strikeouts: That increased his ERA to… uh, 1.00, but dropped Arizona’s starters’ ERA to 2.45 . The relievers’ ERA, on the other hand, rose tonight, ending the day at 4.38. That’s because Oliver Perez was charged with a two-run while retiring a batter, and JB Wendelken also allowed two earned runs, while letting Perez’s legacy runner score in the sixth and giving up a two-run homer at the seventh. Oh, I mentioned the Drake calls above. here is the bat between Wendelken and Jeff McNeil in the seventh. Pitch #4 is a CALLED STRIKE. #RoboUmpsNow
With the D-backs now 5-1, I felt safe to kick off the recap. But to Arizona’s credit, they made a game out of it, when I expected them to quit. They recovered one immediately in the bottom of the seventh, with a sacrifice fly from Daulton Varsho that scored Seth Beer. In the eighth, Christian Walker’s third homer of the year (above) made it a one-run game, with Cooper Hummel on base, after his double. But it seemed to be in vain, as the Diamondbacks were down to the finals in the ninth: Nick Ahmed (0-for-4 on his return) was out and Smith was out. But Varsho reclaimed the team lead in homers with his fourth of 2022, just over the fence in right field (below).
In extras he went, with Mark Melancon summoned to try and stop Manfred’s man from scoring. He came very close. With two out, the runner was still third and Melancon got a ground ball to Matt Davidson at third. His throw across the diamond to Walker initially got the finals call, but it was overturned on appeal, becoming an RBI single for Starling Marte. Wondering if another defender could have had a bit more on the game, which seemed to support Davidson a bit. This proved decisive, as the Diamondbacks were unable to advance their Manfred man, giving the Mets the victory. Arizona finished the night 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position — and one of those hits went zero.
Smith led the offense, recording two hits and a walk to raise his season average to .263. Davidson drew the other two walks for the team, but Ketel Marte hit three times and now has 17 K in 61 AP, compared to 4 BB. We also had the Diamondbacks debut of reliever Edwin Uceta, who worked a clear eighth inning. Below is post-game audio from Gallen, Varsho and Torey Lovullo: haven’t had a chance to listen to them in detail, but Torey seems upset by Marte’s call.
Unsurprisingly, Daulton Varsho led the win probability to +35.7%, with +14.4% from Zac Gallen the only other double-digit D-back. But there were a lot of negatives, starting with Oliver Perez (-22.8%). Also severely in the demerits column we have Marte (-19.7%), Ahmed (-15.3%), Walker (-14.1%), Wendelken (-13.8%) and Hummel (-11 .3%). The same two teams tomorrow night at Chase, with Humberto Castellanos starting for D-backs and a 5:10 first pitch.