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Smith and Smith fuel Diamondbacks’ win over Texas at Chase Field

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Riley Smith throws to a Texas Rangers batter during the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks won 7-0. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX – When this season began, the Martes dominated the headlines for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ketel Marte was coming off a monster 2019 campaign, and Starling Marte quickly stepped in as one of the best hitters on the team.

As the season wraps up all this time later – actually, it’s only been eight-and-a-half weeks – the Smiths have taken over.

Caleb Smith got the start at Chase Field on Tuesday night, tossing four scoreless innings as the D-backs knocked off the Texas Rangers by a final of 7-0. Riley Smith threw five shutout innings in relief, earning his second career win. And even Pavin Smith drove in his third career RBI, just for good measure.

“It was a pretty complete game,” Torey Lovullo pointed out. “I couldn’t be more happy about several things. When you talk about the type of game that we were expecting to play, that was it.”

Riley Smith, in particular, really stood out in this one. He was remarkably efficient for the final five innings of the game, using just 59 pitches to record 15 outs. Even more impressive, 47 of those pitches were strikes.

In five Major League appearances, the right-handed rookie now owns a 2-0 record, a 1.65 ERA and 15 strikeouts over 16.1 innings. If you’re looking for bright spots that show some promise for 2021, he’s moving up the list quickly.

“Riley did a great job,” Lovullo said. “Coming in and giving us five quality innings. Just locked it down, was winning the first three pitches – all those little things that we talk about when our guys step up on the mound to execute a game plan. He did a fantastic job.”

This game could’ve gone south early though, and it looked like it might. The Rangers put their first three hitters on base in the top of the first, but Caleb Smith responded by getting Joey Gallo to pop out, then striking out Rougned Odor and Anderson Tejeda. After getting out of that jam, he settled in.

“It started with Caleb in the first inning,” Lovullo explained. “Had trouble finding his rhythm, threw a couple pitches that got him locked back in, got the big pop up with no outs, and then the strikeouts. I felt like right there set a great tone for us.”

This was Caleb’s longest start of the season. In three appearances since coming over from the Marlins in the Starling Marte deal, he now has a 3.00 ERA over 9.0 innings.

At the plate, Arizona took a 2-0 lead in the fourth, made it 3-0 in the fifth and then blew the game wide open. The first four batters collectively hit for the cycle in the sixth, as David Peralta led off with a double, Nick Ahmed tripled him home, Pavin Smith reached on an infield single and Carson Kelly delivered the knockout with a three-run home run over the left field wall.

Peralta finished the night 3-for-4, and is now hovering around the .300 mark for the season, hitting .297 with five games to go.

As for the last remaining Marte, Ketel returned from the injured list today. He made his first appearance in nearly two weeks and, prior to the game, Lovullo praised his determination to get back in the lineup before the season wrapped up — even though Arizona isn’t making the playoffs.

Marte went 1-for-4 and, despite the disappointment that he has just two homers and hasn’t been able to replicate last year’s breakout performance, he is still hitting a respectable .289 overall.

With the victory, the D-backs are 21-34 on the season. They’ve won six of their last 11, and host Texas again Wednesday afternoon. First pitch is set for 3:10 pm, with Alex Young (2-4, 5.44 ERA) taking the mound against Wes Benjamin (1-1, 4.41).

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