ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Diamondbacks rally from Tommy Henry’s ‘OK’ start in unconventional win over Royals

Apr 24, 2023, 11:26 PM | Updated: Apr 25, 2023, 7:08 pm

Kansas City Royals Arizona Diamondbacks...

Christian Walker #53 of the Arizona Diamondbacks scores on a fielder's choice off the bat of Nick Ahmed against the Kansas City Royals during the eighth inning at Chase Field on April 24, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. Diamondbacks won 5-4. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — A win is a win no matter how ugly or unconventional they might be.

It wasn’t the cleanest of baseball games at Chase Field on Monday night, but the Arizona Diamondbacks (13-11) found a way to rally back from an early deficit to beat the Kansas City Royals 5-4 to end a two-game losing streak and remain atop the NL West division standings.

With the game tied 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth and Royals (5-18) flamethrower Aroldis Chapman on the mound, pinch-hitter Nick Ahmed hit a ball off the end of his bat with just enough spin to allow Christian Walker to score the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run.

After blowing what would’ve been a five-out save a half-inning prior, D-backs lefty Andrew Chafin took matters into his own hands with a one-run lead in the top of the ninth on a foul ball along the first base dugout.

Don’t forget, Christian Walker is the reigning NL Gold Glove Award winner at first base, and even he was called off by the Diamondbacks reliever.

“It’s been my dream to make a top-10 play. Obviously that’s not even close, but I’m always ready to jump off the mound and try to make a play,” Chafin said postgame.

“(Walker) was playing deep four-hole, I saw that when I came set before the pitch,” he added with a smirk. “I knew he was way back and he’d be coming in full speed at the rail, so I’m just trying to look out for him so he doesn’t have to fall into the dugout trying to catch it.”

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo wasn’t as enthusiastic about Chafin’s ability to cover ground, which the pitcher does quite well in the outfield during batting practice, according to both Walker and Lovullo.

“He power-shags every single day,” Lovullo said postgame. “He’s unbelievable out there in right-center field every single day.

“So him calling off the first baseman and the catcher, I don’t love it. In fact, I don’t love it at all. But he caught the ball, so I’ll take the out. He made the play, but it’s not how we design it here.”

D-backs left-handed pitcher Tommy Henry had a bumpy first start of his 2023 season in place of Madison Bumgarner.

The 25-year-old only managed to go 4.1 innings on the night, allowing three runs (all earned) on four hits (one home run) and four walks to one strikeout across 73 pitches (41 strikes).

“Tommy I thought was just OK,” Lovullo said. “He didn’t necessarily show great command and he was just grinding it out into that fifth inning. I thought his best pitch was a changeup to right-handed batters.”

Henry struggled with command early on with a 22-pitch first inning that featured two walks, one solo home run and a long out that was caught at the warning track before the lefty was able to escape the frame with only one run allowed. The lefty also only had one 1-2-3 inning that came in the second against the Royals’ 7-8-9 hitters.

“It’s one of those things, I think I was just trying to throw strikes,” he said postgame. “Sometimes you just got to let it rip and it’ll spot up better than if you’re trying to spot up. Just kind of had to free up, let loose a little bit.

“That was the adjustment (pitching coach Brent Strom) actually cued me in on when he came out to the mound in the first inning and that helped a lot.”

The Diamondbacks were also able to garner eight walks off Royals pitching, which is a big improvement considering where Arizona ranks in that department.

Entering play Monday, the D-backs had only mustered 45 base on balls and are now up to 53 on the season — which still ranks last in MLB. That means 15% of the team’s total walks this year came in this game.

“It’s great, especially (because) we kind of started on the other end of that,” Walker said postgame. “One game doesn’t really mean you snapped out of it. I think it’s still an area of focus that we need to keep executing, but if opposing staffs are going to let a guy get on first base … that’s a baserunner, that’s potentially a run.

“These games that we’re talking about now when every run matters, sometimes that walk in the second or third could lead to even just more pitches, get the starter out early, get to the bullpen. Now Game 3, Game 4 of the series is a little bit different because their bullpen is taxed. It’s definitely a snowball effect, so it’s nice to be able to execute.”

UP NEXT

The Diamondbacks look to add another series win to the campaign against the Royals on Tuesday night at 6:40 p.m. on ESPN 620 AM and 98.7 FM HD-2, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.

Arizona right-hander Ryne Nelson (1-0, 4.91 ERA) is scheduled to start against Kansas City righty Brady Singer (1-2, 8.14 ERA).

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