D-backs plate 8 runs in one inning in big win over Pittsburgh Pirates
Jul 21, 2021, 12:09 AM
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
PHOENIX – The Arizona Diamondbacks opened the flood gates with their biggest offensive inning in nearly a year, scoring eight runs in the seventh against the Pittsburgh Pirates for a cathartic 11-6 win at Chase Field on Tuesday night.
The D-backs are 12-1 in their last 13 games against the Bucs.
Second baseman Josh VanMeter, who didn’t even start the game, was 3-for-3 and was just a home run short of the cycle, with a single, a double, a triple, three RBIs and a run scored.
Shortstop Nick Ahmed was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, a walk and a run scored.
“I guess the thing that stands out is we stood up with two outs when we needed to and delivered,” manager Torey Lovullo said of the offensive output.
“And we got that big hit when it mattered most, and those are the things I think that good teams do on a consistent basis and we’re playing good baseball right now.
“We want that to continue through tomorrow obviously and do our best to win all three games in a series, something we haven’t done.”
Although it took the D-backs a while to get the offense in motion, they didn’t miss too many opportunities to score once they were rolling, despite being down by four runs after five innings.
Left fielder Josh Rojas got the team’s first hit with one out in the fourth and scored on an Eduardo Escobar RBI double.
Rojas was 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored. He continues to be productive, hitting .378 in his last 11 games.
In the following inning, three singles loaded the bases for Ahmed, who came through with an RBI double to chip away at Pittsburgh’s lead.
First baseman Christian Walker added an RBI double in the fifth inning that scored Escobar and cut the lead to two runs.
The team’s biggest inning of the year happened in the seventh, when the D-backs sent 13 batters to the dish and produced eight runs on six hits and four walks.
VanMeter, who came into the game as a substitution for starting pitcher Taylor Widener in the bottom of the fifth inning, tripled to score Daulton Varsho with no outs. He then scored on an RBI single by Ahmed, who subsequently scored after two walks on a Josh Reddick RBI single that gave the D-backs the lead.
Reddick was 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored.
Pinch hitter David Peralta hit an RBI single that scored Walker. Varsho then came up to bat for the second time in the inning and added an RBI single of his own.
VanMeter increased the lead in his second at bat in the inning with a two-RBI double that scored Peralta and Varsho. After the dust settled, Arizona was up by six runs.
“If you would have told me before the game that I was going to come in in the fifth inning and be 3-for-3 with three RBIs, I would have probably said you were crazy,” VanMeter said on his performance. “Those don’t happen very often.”
“Got in, got an opportunity, and I was able to take advantage of it. Help us get the win, which is always nice.”
“He was in the middle of everything tonight,” Lovullo said on VanMeter’s night. “Probably didn’t think about having that day when you don’t see your name in the starting lineup, but it just goes to show you how unpredictable this game is, especially a National League game.”
The eight-run inning was the biggest offensive inning in almost a year for the D-backs, dating back to an eight-run inning they had against the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 12, 2020.
Widener returned to the bump from a groin injury and made his first start at Chase Field since April 9 against the Cincinnati Reds.
While he was going to be on a short leash with his pitch count, Widener did not shy away from being aggressive against opposing batters and attacking the strike zone.
“I started off pretty good,” Widener said on his outing. “I felt like I did a pretty decent job, and there was a few pitches that I left over the middle of the plate. So other than those few pitches, it felt like it was pretty good and something to build off of.”
Widener misplayed a bunt from Pirates pitcher Tyler Anderson in the third inning that would have likely gone foul, which gave Pittsburgh runners on the corners with no outs.
But he proceeded to rear back and strikeout the next three batters at the top of the order to get out of the inning with no runs scoring.
He started the fourth inning with another strikeout of left fielder Ben Gamel, his fourth in a row. But after walking first baseman John Nogowski, he gave up a two-run home run to right fielder Gregory Polanco for the first runs of the game.
He got out of the inning but immediately ran into more problems in the fifth. He gave up a pair of singles to start the inning and allowed a home run to Nogowski that put the Pirates up by four runs.
Widener said he struggled finishing the fifth, but his endurance felt good.
“I felt like I was kinda rocking a little bit, and it was really hard for my arm to be on time and finish,” Widener said.
The home run ended his night at 4.2 innings pitched. He allowed five earned runs on eight hits with an impressive eight strikeouts and one walk in his return.
The eight strikeouts are a career-high for Widener.
With a substantial lead, Arizona’s bullpen held the Pirates to one run in the ninth inning for the D-backs third win in a row.
Madison Bumgarner will start for the D-backs as they go for the sweep in the finale of this three-game series with Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 12:40 p.m. and can be heard on ESPN 620 AM.
Bumgarner is 3-5 in nine career starts against the Pirates with a 3.14 ERA and a .236 opponent batting average.