Lovullo’s ejection sparks D-backs to 8 straight runs, win vs. Phillies

Jun 12, 2023, 11:30 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2023, 12:53 pm

Corbin Carroll #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks stands on third base after hitting an RBI triple agai...

Corbin Carroll #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks stands on third base after hitting an RBI triple against the Philadelphia Phillies in the fourth inning at Chase Field on June 12, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — If for some logic-defying reason you had not bought into the Arizona Diamondbacks as a contender through a 40-25 start, game No. 66 was the latest strong attempt to earn that belief.

After trailing 5-1 early, Arizona responded to an emotional moment with its best player by scoring eight unanswered runs, taking the series opener 9-8 over the Philadelphia Phillies. Arizona has now won 16 of its last 21 games and leads the Los Angeles Dodgers by four games for the top spot in the NL West. The D-backs now have the best record in the NL as well.

In the first inning, a second-pitch sinker by Phillies opener Matt Strahm up and in missed its spot by a handful of inches in the wrong direction, clipping D-backs star outfielder Corbin Carroll on the arm. Two innings later, Strahm opened the at-bat with that sinker and failed to find the same spot with the same pitch again, albeit not as bad. Well, for one more pitch.

The lefty threw it again in his next go, missing badly, hitting Carroll again. Both did not appear to injure Carroll but were in a dangerous part of the batter’s box.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo immediately came out and was livid, initially showing his frustration with the home plate umpire before letting Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto know he was unhappy with him too. About 20 seconds into it, Lovullo was ejected, but that didn’t stop him from continuing to fire off. Realmuto was hardly reacting and Lovullo kept getting angrier.

Third base coach Tony Perezchica came over to pull Lovullo back but the manager kept advancing toward Realmuto. That and some words from Lovullo toward the Phillies dugout was enough for Philly’s bench to clear, leading to Arizona’s doing the same and the bullpens jogging down.

Lovullo opened his postgame press conference saying he has the utmost respect for Realmuto and the umpire, knowing he didn’t have a right to go out there for two plays that were clearly unintentional. The umpire told Lovullo he was going to be ejected if he stayed out there and Lovullo persisted, aware of what he was doing through something he felt was necessary.

“Do I think they were trying to hit him on purpose? No, I do not. But there’s a certain space in my opinion,” Lovullo said, later acknowledging he’s fairly sure he will get suspended. “There’s the safe zone to throw in and the not-so-safe zone to throw it in. And I felt like it was my job to protect the player. I’ll do that every day of the week.”

Carroll briefly chuckled to himself afterward while answering questions about it, thinking himself that it was obviously not intentional.

“It means a lot to us that he’s willing to protect us,” Carroll said.

There’s some unwritten rules spices sprinkled into this brew, the notion that a pitcher has a responsibility to not pitch inside unless it can do so accurately, for the sake of the hitter’s safety. (Part of it is a bit funny, essentially a, “Hey boss, either suck less or don’t do that again.”)

Lovullo had a right to be pissed after Strahm tried the up-and-in sinker on the first pitch of the second at-bat and wasn’t precise.

He spoke on that idea.

“We all have varying opinions on that. There’s a definite gray area,” Lovullo said. “That’s where you’re gonna fight for your team. … There’s a certain way to go in. I’ve seen a lot of bad things happen when a balls get up around the shoulder, hand, neck area. I just don’t like it.”

Outside of a random Josh Rojas ejection from the dugout a few minutes later, nothing came of it, and Lovullo got his desired response from the players.

Pavin Smith’s two-RBI single put two more on the board in the third inning. A RBI single for Ketel Marte and RBI triple for Carroll came the next inning to tie the game. In the sixth inning, a sacrifice fly for Emmanuel Rivera put Arizona ahead and Evan Longoria’s three-run bomb three batters later created some distance at 9-5.

Carroll responded to the outcome of his first two plate appearances with that triple and an infield single, scoring twice. That is some superstar stuff from the reigning NL Player of the Week.

“Good feeling to kind of be able to retaliate the right way,” he said.

Carroll said the first HBP was more of direct impact on his left forearm as opposed to the slight stinger for the second one on his right hand. He felt good afterward, with a bit of swelling on that left forearm.

D-backs starter Tommy Henry had his worst outing of the year, a compliment to how solid he has been in 2023. It was loud contact off the lefty all night and it got noisy in Chase Field during the third inning.

With one out and a runner on via a walk, Henry gave up a single to Nick Castellanos (111 miles per hour off the bat, per Baseball Savant). A strikeout later, Realmuto tripled (109 mph) to score two after his solo homer an inning earlier (101 mph). An Alec Bohm double (107 mph) scored Realmuto and Bohm crossed home as well after Josh Harrison’s RBI single (79 mph) for a four-run inning.

A base-running brain-fart by Harrison ended the third there and a scoreless fourth got Henry through the game longer than you would have expected. He also struck out the first two batters of the fifth but a Realmuto single had Arizona bring in Drey Jameson.

Henry ended up at a career-high nine hits allowed, plus a walk for five earned runs, with six strikeouts.

Jameson got two earned runs on his record for the seventh inning to make it 9-7 D-backs. Austin Adams inherited two runners and gave up one of those runs. He retired the last out of the seventh before hitting Dalton Guthrie in the nine hole to open the eighth, leaving Andrew Chafin with the tying run at the plate, no outs and the top of the order coming up.

Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber fouled out, Trea Turner grounded out and a Nick Castellanos walk was followed by a swinging strikeout for Bryce Harper, a hell of a job by the veteran Chafin.

That was a huge momentum swing on a night that already had a pretty prominent one. But we weren’t done with those just yet.

Miguel Castro received the save opportunity in the ninth and Realmuto quickly had us back at the tying run at the plate with a double that gave him a cycle. Castro got two outs after that but then a single by Bryson Stott put the deficit down to a single run.

In a full count with two outs, pinch-hitter Kody Clemens hooked a sinker up in the zone down the right-field line into the opposing bullpen, clearing the fence by a handful of feet directly next to the foul pole, ricocheting off the top of it.

The initial reactions in the ballpark were mixed, since the ball very well could have come off the pole instead.

Clemens trotted around to touch ’em all, convinced he had done it, and the scoreboard indeed changed to read 10-9 Phillies because there was a momentary ruling from one umpire of fair ball. To give the crew a break, catcher Carson Kelly said he wasn’t sure at first from his vantage point, either. But the guy with the best seat in the house, D-backs right fielder Pavin Smith, signaled foul ball right away.

The umpires later huddled and then called foul ball themselves. The first replay clearly showed that it wasn’t all that close.

Philadelphia challenged given the significance of the moment. The review held up, and by the time the Phillies could even think about resetting to collect themselves, Clemens swung at strike three and the game was over.

Arizona’s top of the order consisting of Marte, Rivera and Carroll combined for seven runs and seven hits. Carroll’s OPS has now climbed to .986, third in MLB.

Realmuto’s cycle was the third of the 2023 season and the first by a Phillies player since David Bell in 2004.

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