Diamondbacks score 4 straight to force extras, walk off in 10th vs. Braves
PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks entered a three-game series at home against the Atlanta Braves on Monday in need of a jolt after being decisively swept in four by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A 6-2 victory got ’em started and then an 8-7 comeback rally in 10 innings for Tuesday’s fixture provided the spark.
“They’re hungry,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said of the team rebounding after the sweep. “This is a hungry team. This team has a mindset they want to go out and do something special every single night. They don’t worry about yesterday, they’re not worried about taking care of tomorrow, they’re worried about taking care of right now.”
Arizona trailed 6-2 through five-and-a-half innings but scored two runs in the sixth, one in the eighth and another in the ninth to bring on extra innings.
From there, the D-backs (25-26) answered Atlanta’s (23-27) run in the top of the 10th with two of their own to walk it off. David Peralta’s RBI single scored the automatic runner on second and Cooper Hummel’s own base knock the next at-bat ended the proceedings.
“Lot of heart, lot of character. That’s an awesome, awesome win,” D-backs first baseman Christian Walker said.
D-backs starter Humberto Castellanos had his worst outing of 2022 in his last time out as a part of that sweep and Arizona’s No. 5 in the rotation once again had a tough time to put Arizona in that aforementioned hole.
Through four innings, half of the 14 balls put in play by Atlanta came off the bat at 100 mph or more, per Baseball Savant. That included Ronald Acuna Jr.’s RBI double in the third inning (106.7), Austin Riley’s single in the fourth (109.6) and Matt Olson’s two-run dinger to score Riley and himself (105.0).
That only resulted in those three runs but then the fifth inning came.
Castellanos hit Acuna, walked Marcell Ozuna and one of his four balls to Riley was a wild pitch. With two outs, Lovullo pulled Castellanos for left-hander Kyle Nelson, a good matchup versus the upcoming Olson, another lefty.
Olson, however, kept showing why he got $168 million over eight years from the Braves in March.
He fell behind 0-2 to Nelson before looking at three straight balls. Olson then fouled off a slider that would have been strike three before producing his second double of the evening. Olson’s third hit in three at-bats scored two more runs and gave the Braves a three-run cushion to work with after two runs for Arizona in the opening inning.
That made it five earned runs for Castellanos and 11 in his last 8.2 innings after a stretch of eight earned runs across 21.2 innings that spanned his four outings prior to that. Atlanta got seven hits and two walks off the right-hander and Castellanos tied his career high of five strikeouts.
The D-backs have had a series of worrying defensive miscues during this homestand and another cost them a run in the sixth inning.
A liner to left-center hit by Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies didn’t give left fielder Peralta and center fielder Alek Thomas much time to figure out who was going to get the ball. The two had a clear lack of communication on it and both guys came up short on the ball, with Peralta extending at the last second to prevent the ball from getting past them.
It was scored a double for Albies and then rookie Michael Harris II singled Albies home for only the third earned run of the season on Nelson’s record and a 6-2 Braves lead.
Braves right-hander Charlie Morton made the 301st start of his career and the two-time All-Star is battling through some struggles during the tail-end of his baseball journey.
Morton is one of 11 pitchers entering play on Tuesday with at least a 1.50 WHIP and 40 innings pitched, per Fangraphs.
His go-to pitch over the past three years has been his curveball, one that had exceptional value for Morton in 2017 and went on to hold that type of run value in 2019 and 2021 as well, according to Baseball Savant. Opposing batters last year hit just .127 off it but this time around they are seeing it much better to the tune of a .286 batting average.
The 38-year-old’s inconsistencies with ol’ reliable persisted at Chase Field. Morton’s 0-2 curveball to leadoff hitter Daulton Varsho in the first inning nailed the left-handed batter on the leg, and then two at-bats later, Walker destroyed a 2-1 curveball 421 feet to left field to put the D-backs up 2-0. That was Walker’s team-leading 13th homer of the year.
Morton retired eight straight D-backs after that and recovered from back-to-back singles for Walker and Peralta by turning an inning-ending double play in the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Morton started it by walking Varsho and then giving up a double (on the curveball again) to Josh Rojas. That was when his night ended and reliever A.J. Minter allowed both runners to score via a sacrifice fly for Smith and double for Walker, putting Arizona within two runs.
The D-backs had a similar opportunity two innings later with the bases loaded and one out but a fielder’s choice RBI for Peralta and Hummel strikeout kept the Braves in front 6-5.
New Braves closer Kenley Jansen took over the ninth, a Dodger for his first 12 years in the majors who has 56 career saves against Arizona, the most of any opponent over his career.
The 57th would not come on Tuesday.
Thomas singled to start the inning, and after Geraldo Perdomo’s bunt resulted in a popout, Ketel Marte’s single to make it a career-best 13-game hitting streak put runners on the corners with one out.
Varsho’s sac fly the next at-bat sent us to extras.
Walker had his first three-hit game of the season and Peralta’s now got two straight multi-hit games after two apiece to begin the series.