Temperatures in the 40s and below weren’t the only thing keeping the Arizona Diamondbacks’ bats cold during Wednesday’s matchup against Cincinnati.
The D-backs’ offense was iced by Reds pitchers through the first eight innings of the night, notching just three hits until the ninth inning when Josh VanMeter stepped up to the plate.
Down three runs and with one out on the board, the second baseman blasted a three-run homer to right field to tie it up and send the game into extra innings after the Reds couldn’t respond.
“I’d be lying if I said that that wasn’t a heck of a ride right there,” said VanMeter, who was part of the Archie Bradley trade between the Reds and D-backs last season. “Think I kind of blacked out for a moment and felt like I kind of floated around the bases. That’s a moment that I’ll remember for a long, long time.”
Arizona continued to melt down the Reds’ defense, tacking on five runs in the 10th to seal an 8-5 victory and improve to 4-2 on their current road trip.
Manager Torey Lovullo said that while it was a great comeback win, it came down to the team continuing to grind against some very strong pitching.
“You pile up eight runs in the final two innings of the game, you’re gonna probably come out on the high side of things,” Lovullo said. “The way we did that was with some patient approaches, creating a lot of traffic on the bases. I’ve been talking about that for a couple weeks now. We were limited with some hits, but we were patient enough to put some runners on base.”
The matchup was almost kept from extras, though, when in the bottom of the ninth, Kole Calhoun dove and missed a ball hit by the Reds’ Tyler Stephenson.
Calhoun quickly scrambled to pick it up and threw a bullet to home plate to reach Mark Payton, who was pushing to grab the victory. Cincinnati was kept at bay, however, after D-backs catcher Carson Kelly tagged Payton out.
Postgame, Calhoun was critical of his play, noting it could’ve put the nail in the coffin when the D-backs were trying to stage a comeback.
“I kind of got lucky, honestly,” the outfielder said. “I thought I had a chance, snuck under my glove a little bit. All I was thinking was go get that ball and get it home as quick as I could. It probably should’ve cost us the game. I’ve got to play that ball in front of me.”
Meanwhile in the dugout, the players and staff were riding an emotional roller coaster.
“I felt like he was going to catch the ball off the bat. It went from ‘Yes. Yes. No. No. Oh my God. Yes, he’s out.’ That happened in about a seven-second span so you can imagine how we were all feeling in the dugout,” Lovullo said with a laugh.
“True to form, Kole goes out there and throws a strike,” Lovullo added. “This is a game of inches. We talk about winning the inch here all the time, that was one of those moments.”
On the mound, Merrill Kelly made his fourth start of the season, hoping to improve after a couple of bumpy starts.
The right-hander gave up three runs on five hits, one walk and struck out three across five innings of work. Kelly now holds a 7.71 ERA on the season.
“Merrill Kelly did a good job of keeping us in the ballgame for the five innings that he was in there,” Lovullo said. “I removed him to give us an opportunity to score some runs and build an inning, but then the bullpen took over from there and gave us a chance to play some catch-up.”
Riley Smith relieved Kelly in the sixth and, combined with Caleb Smith and Taylor Clarke, the bullpen was able to keep the Reds at bay for the rest of the game, allowing two runs in the 10th.
The D-backs close out the series against the Reds on Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 9:35 a.m. Listen live on ESPN 620 AM.