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Arizona scores 11 runs in 7-inning, Little League-like win over Rockies

Arizona Diamondbacks' Josh VanMeter (19) celebrates his three-run home run against the Colorado Rockies with David Peralta (6) during the third inning during the second game of a baseball doubleheader Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Let’s take a bird’s eye view of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ second doubleheader game against the Colorado Rockies on Friday, an 11-5 win.

It was a seven-inning game – complete with a fifth-inning stretch. Attendance was sparse, and the only people in the stands were those who were required to be there.

In the first two innings, the two teams combined for 10 runs.

Arizona scored six runs in the first inning, a stretch in which every baserunner reached via single, hit by pitch, walk, fielder’s choice or error.

It … it was Little League-esque.

That’s not an insult. It was just the tip of the iceberg of a weird, weird season. And after watching Zac Gallen dominate the first game of the back-to-back earlier in the evening, a little offense jolted some excitement into Chase Field’s fake fan noise.

On the tail of Arizona’s offensive struggle over the last month, it was nice to see some different faces get on board.

Leadoff hitter Tim Locastro went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs in the first inning alone, and got on base five times total in the seven-inning game. Josh VanMeter, second in the lineup, hit a three-run home run in the third inning, his first dinger as a D-back.

At the bottom of the order, Wyatt Mathisen walked in two of his four plate appearances and Jon Jay had two base hits with a run scored.

VanMeter’s home run was a departure from Little League play, but in the fourth inning, Arizona got back to that style. Mathisen walked, Jay singled to shallow right field, and then Locastro walked to load up the bases. Rockies pitcher Jesus Tinoco then threw a wild pitch, allowing Arizona to tack another run on the board. Up came VanMeter, who struck out looking on a 3-2 count.

Then, in the fifth inning, 24-year-old Pavin Smith hit his first career home run to give Arizona an 11-4 lead.

“It seems like one of those guys does something different every night, they keep one-upping each other,” Locastro said when asked about the young players. “It’s pretty fun to watch and hopefully these next two games we get some more of it.”

Smith and manager Torey Lovullo associated Friday’s games to a minor league feel.

“It was a little awkward,” manager Torey Lovullo said.

Minor league doubleheaders are seven innings, so it reminded the former minor league coach and some younger players of their time in the development leagues.

“You just try to get your hits out of the way early because you’re probably going to get less at-bats,” Smith said. “It’s a sprint to the finish, you can’t really wait around and see what the other team’s about to do.”

They got their hits immediately, driving Rockies starting pitcher Antonio Santos out of the game in the first inning of his first major league start. D-backs starter Taylor Clarke allowed four runs over his first two innings, but gave up just two hits over the next three innings to keep an arm’s length lead over the Rockies.

Clarke finished the game with a line of four runs on six hits and five strikeouts. He threw 87 pitches.

With only two games left this season, it’s likely Clarke’s final appearance of the year. If it is, he finishes 2020 with a 4.36 ERA in 43.1 innings over 12 appearances, five of which were starts.

It’s too late for the D-backs to make the playoffs, but their doubleheader sweep gives them their fourth win in a row.

With two games left in the season, they’ll try to carry some momentum into 2021.

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