For the second Saturday in a row, we had a pitcher’s duel, anemic offense, and then Mark Melancon blowing it in the top of the ninth.
I gotta say I’m kind of demoralized at the prospect of writing this one up, because aside from it being a different team and different players we were facing, I think I could kinda cut-and-paste last Saturday’s recap into this space, and it would be broadly accurate. Anyway.
Zac Gallen takes the mound against Kyle Hendricks. Both righties. Our righty has far better numbers this season than theirs. Gallen does his job, not as well as usual but still very, very, well. We harry Hendricks for the first three innings, making him throw a lot of pitches, putting runners on in every inning, but only scrape out one run to show for it. Ketel Marte walks to lead off the second, advances to second on a slow grounder in the middle infield by Alek Thomas, and scores on our first hit of the night, a single that Nick Ahmed stroked to left. No video highlight of this, or of any other play of the game, so y’all will have to do without Twitter embeds. Sorry. 1-0 D-BACKS
Gallen, meanwhile, only allows three baserunners through six, but one of those baserunners touches them all, as Cubs catcher Yan Gomes homers over the left field wall with two outs in the fourth. He also gave up a two-out single in the first, and issued a leadoff walk to former Diamondback Ildemaro Vargas to begin the sixth. 1-1 TIE
One noteworthy thing about the first five innings of this game, was that Gallen was wildly efficient through his first three innings of work, getting through them with only 36 pitches thrown. Similarly, the Diamondbacks lineup, though they weren’t making much noise, hung 63 pitches on Hendricks over their three innings at the plate. And then, weirdly, the script kind of flipped. Gallen made it through six full innings, but needed to throw 21 pitches in the fourth, 18 in the fifth, and another 21 pitches in the sixth. Hendricks, meanwhile, retired our boys on 9 pitches in the fourth, 9 pitches in the fifth, and then 13 pitches in the sixth, in which he recorded only two outs before surrendering a two-out Alek Thomas double to left that earned him the hook and got us into the Chicago bullpen.
Not that that did any good, sadly. We managed three singles and a walk in the last 31⁄3 innings against the Cubs’ bullpen, but also managed to strike out eight times.
Our bullpen, meanwhile, did a nice job until the ninth. Noe Ramirez sat the Cubs down in order in the seventh, and Joe Mantiply did the same in the eighth. Then Melancon came on to face the top of the Cubs’ batting order, and promptly surrendered a walk, a single, another walk, and another single that gave the Cubs the 2-1 lead. He also got pulled after that, without recording a single out, and was replaced by his partner in Wednesday afternoon’s meltdown, J.B. Wendelken. Wendelken was not as miserable tonight—he walked in the second run of the inning, and then allowed a third to score on a weak broken-bat grounder to Marte at second. We did scratch out a second run in the bottom of the ninth, thanks to a leadoff Alek Thomas walk, a Seth Beer pinch-hit single that advanced Thomas to third, and a Daulton Varsho single to left that plated Thomas, but that was all we were able to manage. The end result was the same as last Saturday night and Wednesday afternoon: the back end of the bullpen lost it for us, albeit with a less unsightly number than on Wednesday. 4-2 Chicago FINAL
Win Probability Added, courtesy of Fangraphs
Pfizer: Zac Gallen (6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 96 pitches thrown, +23.5% WPA)
Moderna: Seth Beer (1 AB, 1 H, +12% WPA), Joe Mantiply (1 IP, 0 R, 2 K, +10.8% WPA), Alek Thomas (3 AB, 2 H, 1 BB, +10.7% WPA)
Ivermectin: Mark Melancon (0 outs recorded, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 ER, -43.7% WPA)
It was a pretty well-attended Gameday Thread tonight, with 308 comments at time of writing. Granted, about the last 100 or so were basically cries of lamentation after Melancon took the mound for the top of the ninth and did what he seems to do these days, but still. Very congenial, as always. Nothing has gone Sedona Red as of yet, so I’m going to choose a CotN by editorial fiat. This one goes to Snake_Bitten, in response to a side conversation where we were trying to enumerate all the other sucky closers Hazen has signed, and I couldn’t recall who the Tampa castoff between Rodney and Holland was. Michael McDermott provided the name, and Snake_Bitten did some truly artful emoji work that made me laugh, which I very much needed at that point in the evening:
Anyway, we still have a shot at our
third fourth (!!!) consecutive series win, as Humberto Castellanos takes the mound in the rubber game tomorrow. He faces off against Cubbies left-hander Justin Steele. First pitch is 1:10 AZ time. Join us if you dare.
As always, thank you so much for reading. And as always, go D-Backs!
Postgame Audio, courtesy of Jack Sommers