You’ve heard that it was difficult to see the ball when it’s being pitched out of a white backdrop. Chances are, you’ve also heard that it’s tough to see it in the lights. What I can guarantee you’ve never heard before is the ball getting lost amongst seagulls.
Thankfully, the headlines for this contest won’t be crucifying the not-so-oft used Tony Campana, but rather praising him for his late-inning heroics. By a score of 6-5, the Diamondbacks snuck out of San Francisco with a series win after an improbable effort to do so.
Using an astounding 15 pitchers combined over the length of the 10-inning contest, both the Giants and Diamondbacks could not have been happy about emptying their bullpen ahead of a weekend series. For Arizona, it was Randall Delgado who once again proved to be completely ineffective. Getting just 10 outs on the night, Delgado was lucky to escape with only three runs crossing the plate.
On an evening where their pitching was lackluster once again, the D-Backs offense finally bailed them out. Every member of the starting lineup collected at least a single hit, but none as many as Tony Campana. Going 4-for-6 with a stolen base and the game-winning RBI, it’s not difficult to see how it was his show to steal last night. So, how did it almost all go wrong?
If you’ve never tuned in to a late night San Francisco Giants broadcast, you would have no way of knowing the copious amount of seagulls that “flock” to the outfield grass. They have them by air, ground and water down by the bay. Leading off the bottom of the eighth inning, Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford hit a drive out to deep centerfield, sending Campana sprinting back, but seemingly having a beat on the ball. At the last moment, the ball drops as if it hit a force field and falls to the grass, giving Crawford a stand-up double. As funny as it may sound, Campana almost unquestionably lost the flight of the white baseball amongst the flight of the white seagulls—not that any of this should surprise you with the way things have gone for the D-Backs thus far in 2014.
Then, the most unlikely thing of all occurred: they escaped a jam. In a bullpen where having a double-digit ERA is nearly a requirement, Joe Thatcher pitched himself out of a sticky predicament. In fact, the quartet of Thatcher, Brad Ziegler, J.J. Putz and Addison Reed combined for a scoreless five frames of work, in which they allowed only two hits; one of which was the seagull aided double.
There were countless opportunities to put the game away during the standard nine innings as well. Most notably, Arizona loaded the bases with nobody out in the top half of the seventh inning as “cleanup” hitter; Martin Prado strode to the plate. Cleaning up not much of anything at all, Prado hit a tapper back to pitcher Jean Machi who turned a 1-2-3 double play with relative ease.
The logic behind separating Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo makes sense. Keep your two biggest power bats away from one another, so they can both drive in runs at different portions of the order. What makes absolutely no sense, is putting the utilityman in the cleanup spot. If you were to build a prototypical two-hitter from the ground up, it might as well be a clone of Martin Prado. He always gives you a quality at-bat, rarely strikes out, and drives the ball to the opposite field. Kirk Gibson is an old-school ballplayer, which is why it’s shocking to watch him manage his ballclub like a new-age sabermatrician who claims batting order makes no difference.
No rest for the weary out in Phoenix tonight as the Diamondbacks return home to the friendly confines of Chase Field. They get the unlucky draw of playing the Los Angeles Dodgers yet again.
Taking the mound for Arizona will be the tall right-hander, Brandon McCarthy. He will be squaring off against the Korean sensation, Hyun-Jin Ryu. Be sure to stop down at the ballpark at 6:40 P.M. on Friday night to kick the night off in style.