Chase Field roof springs open, D-backs offense springs awake to beat Astros
PHOENIX — Once Chase Field’s top dropped after the third inning Wednesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks jolted to life.
The offensively-challenged D-backs (4-8) trailed the Houston Astros 4-0 as the roof opened. But over the bottom of the fourth inning, the home team ran out 14 batters, scored nine runs and found offensive juice that’s been non-existent through the first 11 games of 2020.
“I don’t know if it was the roof or not, but as soon as they opened the roof we started hitting,” D-backs outfielder David Peralta said.
By the end of the evening, Arizona had smacked four home runs after hitting two total up to this point in the year. It also posted 16 hits, doubling the previous game high this season.
Now it’s a matter how the Diamondbacks will ultimately define the moment of the roof opening for the first time in a 14-7 win over the Astros. Will it be momentum-changing moment, or a coincidence and outlier?
“This has been the day we’ve all been waiting for and looking for,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “The guys came out and played inspired baseball, as we have, and caught some breaks.”
A day prior, Lovullo replaced the top five batters in his order in the sixth inning, giving them time to digest and move on from what turned out to be an 8-2 loss.
Lovullo wouldn’t call that a benching but a chance for those players to support their teammates and go home from the game already well into resetting for the next day. That, too, could be viewed as a defining moment. Time will tell.
What we do know is the start to Game 2 of the Houston series didn’t look like it’d end with an Arizona victory. For every hard-hit ball by the Astros in the first three innings, there was a dribbling groundout by the Diamondbacks.
Houston kept barreling up Arizona starter Robbie Ray, who allowed seven of the Astros’ nine hitters to register a hard-hit ball through the first two innings.
Then came the roof opening — and a literal breath-taking play by Kole Calhoun in the bottom of the fourth.
Ketel Marte’s single was followed by a screaming Calhoun liner that bounced off the right field corner fence and zoomed along the wall, allowing for his first career inside-the-park home run — Arizona’s 18th in franchise history.
“I kind of put my head down as I was touching first and saw it just shoot toward the pool and was like, ‘Alright, here we go,'” Calhoun said. “Thought it was a stand-up triple all day and (third base coach Tony Perezchica) kept waving and I don’t think I’ve caught my breath since.”
Arizona outfielder Starling Marte followed with a bunt-single, Christian Walker hit a ground-rule double and Eduardo Escobar got hit by a pitch to load the bases — all of this without an out in the inning.
Peralta then smoked a triple into the same right field corner for three more runs, and catcher Stephen Vogt followed with an RBI double. Ketel Marte, Calhoun and Walker all reappeared in the fourth for RBI hits, giving them a multi-hit inning each and putting Arizona ahead, 9-4.
The good news after all that was Ray was through four innings with only 60 pitches thrown. But he didn’t take advantage.
He walked catcher Martin Maldonado to lead things off in the fifth and allowed George Springer to go deep, pulling Houston within 9-6.
Arizona’s starter needed 31 pitches to get out of the fifth inning and called it a night from there.
Nick Ahmed’s two-run homer in the fifth re-insured the D-backs as did a Peralta solo shot in the seventh, making for his fourth career game of four or more RBIs. Escobar hit his first bomb of 2020 for two more runs in the eighth inning.
Lovullo said he’s not in the loop when it comes to deciding on the status of the roof, and perhaps the heat (108 degrees at first pitch) and thin air contributed to the balls flying out of the park. That said:
“I know there were a lot of hard-hit balls that probably would’ve been out of the ballpark no matter what,” Lovullo added.
Arizona’s problems are certainly not solved.
Ray managed 5.0 innings total — the longest he’s lasted in three starts of 2020 — while giving up six earned runs and three home runs.
Pitching coach Matt Herges said the lefty used the last few days to work through a windup change.
“We think he’s getting his arm stuck,” Herges said before the game. “You’ll see it tonight. There’s going to be a glove tap to promote getting his arm going so it’s not stuck here. It adds flow to his delivery.”
Ray, who was not available to reporters after the game Wednesday, has another five days to continue searching for answers.
If the D-backs have any luck, at least they already found answers for an anemic offense. And for once, at least they got the luck.
“It’s just kind of how the whole thing has seemed so far is we’re not getting the ball to bounce our way,” Calhoun said of the season, adding of his homer: “You want to talk about a ball bouncing our way, I mean, that ball bounced literally to center field when it was down in the corner.
“The ball just kept rolling and rolling.”