What to take from Diamondbacks’ Game 4 loss to Rangers in World Series going forward
Nov 1, 2023, 12:16 AM | Updated: 12:48 am
PHOENIX — It is not typically a great sign for the home club when the loudest cheers in a stretch of innings stemmed from paper airplanes landing on the field from the 300s.
The Texas Rangers reminded the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Tuesday how little room for error a World Series game has with a 10-run onslaught during the second and third innings.
Arizona’s bullpen game didn’t work as well as it has in the past, and a stellar defense had rare cracks, specifically an error from first baseman Christian Walker after which five unearned runs scored.
The D-backs stared a 3-1 series deficit in the face trailing 10-0 and 11-1, but they fought down the stretch to get runs on the board. Texas even put closer Jose Leclerc in the game during the ninth inning to secure an 11-7 victory.
So what is there to take from that? Momentum from the late surge into Wednesday? A complete flush from seven innings of blowout baseball that had a sold-out Chase Field sounding like a day game in July?
“As you’re dissecting it and looking at it, you fall down 11-1 and then you keep fighting,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “You stay connected, you commit to the plan and the process for 27 outs and you close the game up to 11-7, got the fans engaged, got a ton of energy, got their closer in the game. There was a lot of positives to draw upon, and I will.
“But we’ve got to tighten up the things that we know went wrong. And we’ll do that. And then we’ll come out tomorrow. And we’ve got to go 1-0 tomorrow.”
For the second series in a row, the D-backs are a loss away from the season’s end.
The NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies came up again in the clubhouse postgame, just as it has for every loss of the World Series. Arizona survived going on the road down 3-2, and its players said all the right things about the mindset for Game 5.
“It’s gonna be a battle,” Walker said. “There’s one thing I can promise is you, we’re gonna play as hard as we can every pitch. We’ve had our backs up against the wall before, a little bit different, every scenario is different, but we’re gonna leave it all on the field.”
“It was hard for us, it happens,” shortstop Geraldo Perdomo said. “We don’t have Thursday, it is all or nothing tomorrow. … It will be the same mentality. We’ve seen this before against the Phillies. It’s nothing new. We’re hungry.”
Diamondbacks’ final bullpen game craters
Looking at the specific takeaways on the field, Tuesday was the last time Arizona will need to use a bullpen game this season, barring unexpected turbulence.
Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Brandon Pfaadt are lined up to round out the series if the D-backs stay alive long enough to use them all.
The D-backs started Joe Mantiply and went to Miguel Castro, Kyle Nelson and Luis Frias. Castro let an inherited runner from Mantiply score on a wild pitch with two outs in the second inning and allowed two more runs before handing it off to Nelson.
Josh Jung scores the first run of the game on a wild pitch! 👀 pic.twitter.com/LZbIpCRZTp
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 1, 2023
Nelson’s second pitch was blasted by Corey Seager 431 feet, as Texas put up five runs in the second inning.
MLB legend Pedro Martinez pegged the question of why even pitch to Seager, who has three home runs this series. Cleanup hitter Adolis Garcia was removed from the roster with an oblique strain, so there is less protection behind Seager.
How many times have I said it: @Rangers Corey Seager, is the kind of player that you circle before the game and say to yourself: if needed, let’s give him the Barry Bonds treatment (walk) and not let him beat me #Worldseries #walkhim #coreyseager
— Pedro Martinez (@45PedroMartinez) November 1, 2023
Ryne Nelson saved the day with 5.1 innings of one-run ball to bridge the fourth inning to the ninth.
“In a bullpen game you kind of need everybody to be locked in and feeling their best,” Mantiply said. “Sometimes with the momentum, I think it can be a big shift in these games. Unfortunately tonight it didn’t work out in our favor.”
Lovullo has said he enjoys the challenges of matching up the right arms, but his relievers did not execute. Kyle Nelson’s slider to Seager was right in his wheelhouse with catcher Gabriel Moreno set up down and away.
Ryne Nelson’s outing kept Paul Sewald, Kevin Ginkel and Ryan Thompson rested, so the D-backs will go into a do-or-die Game 5 with their best available relievers gassed up to complement Gallen.
Diamondbacks don’t overcome defensive mishap
The game really got away after Walker failed to make a play he executes 99 times out of 100. He backhanded a ball that looked like a sure inning-ending double play in the third but fumbled the transfer.
Frias struck out the next hitter for the second out, but a double and a Marcus Semien home run put a lopsided number on the board. All 10 runs scored with two outs.
It was the first error for either club this series, as it seems every play that can be made has been made. In a series where the defense is this good, any defensive mistake gets magnified.
Texas’ defense, as manager Bruce Bochy put it, won it Game 3 with an outfield assist by the right fielder Garcia and a sliding stop by Seager at shortstop to begin a double play in the eighth inning of a 3-1 victory.
Bats get going
The middle of Arizona’s order started to get going. Walker had a three-hit night with a couple 100 mph rockets. The consistent hard contact has come around over the last three games.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had a tough Game 3 but went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and a three-run home run on Tuesday. Moreno had a couple hits late, including a two-run single off Leclerc.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. gives the Snakes some life! pic.twitter.com/lb65xdlIfR
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) November 1, 2023
“Making him come in the game, there’s a lot of positives there,” Walker said. “Anytime we can get more eyes on him, it’s a good thing.”
Lead-off hitter Ketel Marte picked up another couple hits, as well.
Arizona has yet to score a run during the first two innings this series, though.
The offense put up two runs over 16 innings after a 9-1 win in Game 2 before the line really got moving on Tuesday.
The D-backs scored seven of their nine runs in Game 2 in the seventh inning or later and picked up their only run of Game 3 in the eighth.
Arizona faced Rangers Game 5 starter Nathan Eovaldi in Game 1 and chased him in the fifth inning, and early run support for Gallen could change the dynamic at Chase Field from two games in which the D-backs never led.