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Diamondbacks’ bats come alive early in victory over Mariners

Arizona Diamondbacks' Kole Calhoun (56) follows through on an RBI sacrifice fly against the Seattle Mariners during the third inning of a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Phoenix. AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks entered Friday night with a chance to build off of their win just a night prior.

Different opponent. Same result.

The D-backs clearly carried their momentum into Friday’s home match against the Seattle Mariners, taking the series opener 4-3 for the team’s second straight victory.

Arizona came out looking like a team that’s won 18 of their last 21, not the other way around.

Unlike most of the past 21 outings, the D-backs had little trouble finding an offensive rhythmn right off the bat.

Outfielder Tim Locastro wasted little time notching a hit in the boxscore, getting aboard with a leadoff single. A forceout sent him to the dugout, but left Josh Rojas at first base with first baseman Christian Walker stepping up to the plate.

Taking advantage of a Yusei Kikuchi 94 mph cutter, Walker sent a hard-hit ball down the right field line. The sharp liner bounced around the outfield corner, giving more than enough time for Rojas to cross the plate and hand Walker his first triple of the season.

Walker wouldn’t have to wait long at third base, either, as second baseman Eduardo Escobar turned on the first offering of his at-bat, resulting in a sac fly and the D-backs’ second run of the opening frame. The combination of Escobar and Walker accounted for two of the team’s four RBIs, with Rojas recording two runs scored on the evening.

Continuing to string together at-bats, the D-backs continued to give Kikuchi fits.

Escobar’s sac fly was followed up by a Kole Calhoun double before shortstop Nick Ahmed brought the outfielder home with an RBI single. The duo of Ahmed and Calhoun provided the team’s other two RBIs on the night.

And just like, it was 3-0, D-backs.

Arizona wasn’t quite done, though, adding another run in the third inning courtesy of a Calhoun sac fly.

“Offensively, we just pieced things together,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said after the game. “We had a really good approach, I thought our plan was real good. We attacked the pitch we were looking for, we were having an all-field approach. We advanced runners the way we were supposed to, we executed in key situations, sacrifice flies. It was just a really good game.

“Proud of these guys and we’ll continue to grind. That’s all we know how to do and we’ll gear it up and do the same thing tomorrow.”

The bats weren’t the only thing working for Arizona, as starting pitcher Caleb Smith turned in a respectable performance in his D-backs debut.

“It felt great to get back on the field. It’s been a long time coming,” Smith said. “I’m ecstatic to be with this organization, I’m really happy with where I’m at and I thought I threw the ball decent today. Most important thing was getting out there and getting out there healthy.”

In 3.0 innings of work, Smith allowed just one hit, a solo homer in the third inning, and an earned run. He added three strikeouts and walked one.

“Caleb Smith gave us exactly what we thought pitch count-wise, inning-wise,” Lovullo said. “We talked about potentially an extra inning if the pitch count was in a certain area but we didn’t want to force things knowing what his progression has been. He threw the ball extremely well, it changed speeds, he was throwing his fastball and following the game plan. It was just a really nice first outing for Caleb.”

Unfortunately for the D-backs, the bullpen allowed the Mariners back in after four scoreless innings.

In relief of Smith, Alex Young allowed two hits and had back-to-back innings of giving up a run. The runs trimmed Arizona’s lead it had built to just one.

Young’s exit in the ninth inning paved the way for Stefan Crichton.

Closing the game for the D-backs, Crichton put a kabash to Seattle’s comeback bid, retiring the final two batters of the night for his first career save.

“It was a really nice ballgame for the pitching staff and they executed a really good plan,” Lovullo said.

Crichton got the nod to close things out after the team optioned defacto closer Kevin Ginkel to the alternate training site. Travis Bergen picked up the save Thursday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The D-backs will look to make it three consecutive wins when they take on the Mariners at 5:10 p.m. Saturday. Catch all the action live on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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