D-backs beat A’s with 2 runs in 9th, Nelson’s season-best outing
May 17, 2023, 3:34 PM | Updated: 3:35 pm
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The Arizona Diamondbacks as currently constructed will go as far as their youngsters take them, and a lot of that is on the back-end of the starting rotation.
A positive development in Wednesday’s 5-3 win in Oakland against the Athletics (10-35) was 25-year-old right-hander Ryne Nelson putting forth his best performance of the season.
Nelson gave up just one hit and zero runs in 5.1 innings, walking four with six strikeouts.
It took some extra festivities after that for Arizona to get a win, though.
Arizona had a 3-0 lead in the top of the seventh when reliever Luis Frias gave up a three-run homer to Oakland’s Ramon Laureano to tie it, taking away Nelson’s potential win. Two innings later, however, a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. double led to him scoring on a Jose Herrera sac fly, as did Dominic Fletcher on a Ketel Marte RBI single. Miguel Castro closed out the ninth for his third save in four opportunities this season.
Nelson was rolling just about all day. He walked Jace Peterson with one out in the bottom of the second, and after that, he sat down 10 straight A’s. But at the top of the sixth in a 3-0 ball game, Nelson’s pitch count exploded from 57 to 82, as he walked three of the four next batters.
That loaded the bases with one out, and at that point, D-backs (25-19) manager Torey Lovullo turned to Frias. Frias bailed Nelson out with back-to-back outs before his own woes an inning later. That included Athletics designated hitter Brent Rooker, who has been one of the best hitters in baseball six weeks into the year.
Long balls for the D-backs made up for a fairly unproductive afternoon at the plate. Christian Walker’s solo shot in the second and Corbin Carroll’s two-run homer in the sixth made up for half of Arizona’s four hits through eight innings.
Nelson’s bounce-back was needed. His 2023 has been rough to start the year. He came into Wednesday with a 6.20 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. And recently, Nelson has allowed seven or more hits in his last four outings and a total of 34 in them, with 16 earned runs.
Nelson and Drey Jameson both debuted in the tail-end of 2022, seeing tremendous success in a small sample size. Nelson’s first two starts of his MLB career combined for 13 innings, four hits, two walks and zero runs. The righty gave up four runs (three earned) in his final appearance but did enough then and in spring training to win Arizona’s fifth training spot in a competition featuring Jameson, Tommy Henry and Brandon Pfaadt. An injury for Zach Davies and the release of Madison Bumgarner opened up positions in the rotation for Henry and Pfaadt.
Carroll has done a great job in the last week-plus racking up some base on balls to make up for what is really the first hitting skid of his extremely promising full rookie campaign. The 22-year-old entered the day 5-for-33 in the last nine games, but that includes seven walks, including six in the previous four contests.
Walker has seriously started to lock in this month. After a below-average April, this is the third time in May Walker has had back-to-back games with a home run. Tuesday was his sixth multi-hit game for May and the solo shot was Walker’s 12th RBI in 14 outings this month.
Walker’s OPS sat at .714 through April but is now all the way up to .867 in the third week of May.
Speaking of scintillating May’s, Gurriel extended his hit streak to 11 games.
Arizona started a three-series road trip by taking two in Oakland and now travels across the country for a trio of games with the Pittsburgh Pirates, beginning on Friday at 3:35 p.m. You can hear that on ESPN 620 AM.