What led to Diamondbacks RHP Scott McGough’s at-bat with the game on the line vs. Yankees

Apr 3, 2024, 6:30 PM

Blaze Alexander...

Blaze Alexander #9 of the Arizona Diamondbacks makes a catch at second base for an out against Trent Grisham #12 of the New York Yankees during the 6th inning at Chase Field on April 03, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Zac BonDurant/Getty Images)

(Photo by Zac BonDurant/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — In a stroke of irony, Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Scott McGough stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning against the New York Yankees at Chase Field for what was his first at-bat in five years on Wednesday.

A “pitchers’ lineup” had been a light-hearted side conversation in the clubhouse Zac Gallen brought up Tuesday, however through injury, substitutions and two extra innings the D-backs were stuck with a hitter with no at-bats since 2019 in Japan.

McGough was caught looking at a Caleb Ferguson fastball off the outside edge to end the ballgame, 6-5 Yankees. New York (6-1) took two of three in Phoenix, while the D-backs finished the homestand 4-3.

Merrill Kelly gave the D-backs another quality start with seven innings and two runs, as he and Gallen have opened the season as strong as can be asked for. But Lovullo sat in the interview postgame frustrated by the feeling the D-backs beat themselves.

What led to Scott McGough hitting?

9th inning

Second baseman Blaze Alexander was having a game with his first MLB home run and a nine-pitch walk, but against right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga in the bottom of the ninth, Lovullo went to a left-handed bat in Jace Peterson.

Peterson, in his second plate appearance of the season, bounced out which led to extra innings in a 2-2 ballgame, and Lovullo stood by his decision for a platoon advantage.

“In my opinion, based on the information I had, right-on-right was a big challenge,” Lovullo said.

Joc Pederson was available on the bench but would have required another sub.

10th inning

In the 10th inning, Kevin Ginkel’s first pitch was a two-run shot by New York’s Alex Verdugo to take a 4-2 lead. The D-backs got a run back on a Yankees error, one that Geraldo Perdomo reached second base on. However, Perdomo limped to second after the throw got away and had to come out of the game with training staff.

Outfielder Jake McCarthy entered to run and scored on a Corbin Carroll tapper in which Carroll beat the throw to first with two outs.

11th inning

Arizona was out of available infielders on the bench to replace Perdomo. Ketel Marte — who had a day in his own right with his 1,000th career hit and a home run — was the designated hitter and the only option at shortstop.

Thus the DH was forfeited, and the pitcher’s spot was due up sixth.

McGough’s 11th inning went awry, as a run scored on a balk and Lovullo made a decision he’d come to regret.

Lovullo kicked himself for not walking Yankees slugger Aaron Judge with a runner in second and one out. The plan was for McGough to pitch around Judge, but the reliever missed over the plate and Judge roped an RBI double to go up 6-4.

“Sometimes I need to take total control of the situation and take it out of everybody’s hands,” Lovullo said.

Arizona kept on fighting, as with two on and two outs, Jorge Barrosa, in his 10th MLB plate appearance, delivered an RBI single, 6-5.

Gabriel Moreno was on deck, and Yankees manager Aaron Boone had the easiest decision of his career to make. Moreno was intentionally walked, and McGough had to hit. McGough’s last professional base hit was in 2018 for the Albuquerque Isotopes.

“I was more mad about the mistake I made pitching,” McGough said “I just tried to put the ball in play, be athletic.”

“It was clear Gerry had to come off, I wasn’t budgeting for that,” Lovullo said. “We were left in that situation. We were thinking throw the ball in the dirt.”

Base running frustration

The game was far from flawless before the circus of events late, even with Kelly doing all he could.

Two moments on the bases drove Lovullo crazy, especially in the fifth inning. The D-backs had two on and two outs with Christian Walker up. Carroll was thrown out at third base on a steal attempt, as Yankees pitcher Carlos Rodon caught Carroll with a pickoff move.

“I went into blackout stage when that happened, so I am still coming out of that. I was so mad,” Lovullo said. “I don’t know what happened. I’m gonna find out those answers. I’m not happy.”

The very next inning, Arizona had two on and one out, and Barrosa lined a ball up the middle. Second baseman Gleyber Torres snagged it and doubled off D-backs base runner Eugenio Suarez at second.

“You get back, you don’t freeze on a line drive, you get back,” Lovullo harped.

Lovullo said the base running — such a strength for the 2023 D-backs — has been below average and needs to improve. His club has been caught stealing four times in 10 attempts and picked off twice.

“Diamondback baseball is fundamentally sound, it’s not giving up an inning’s worth of outs on the bases, it’s controlling the zone and the at-bat when you’re in the box, it’s pounding the zone like Merrill did,” Lovullo said.

“They kept fighting, they kept grinding, they kept getting on base. That’s the hard part. The easy part is on me to make sure we’re coaching them and tidying up the right areas … The D-backs don’t beat the D-backs. I felt like we beat ourselves today and that’s unacceptable.”

Merrill Kelly deals

Kelly was lights out to begin his second start of the year, facing the minimum nine hitters through three innings with four strikeouts.

Judge took him deep in the fourth for a two-run shot on a sinker Kelly said was supposed to be away but crept over the plate.

He kept New York right there even with adversity in the fifth inning after a catcher’s interference against Tucker Barnhart gave the Yankees two runners. Kelly beat Torres with a changeup on the eighth pitch of the at-bat to induce a double play.

Kelly got up to 91 pitches and said he felt strong using all his pitches.

“I feel good right now, arm feels good, ball is coming out well,” Kelly said. “After spring training when the real competition starts, timing starting to get locked in a little bit better.”

He and Gallen have thrown 24.2 combined innings with four earned runs between them (1.46 ERA).

“What I’m proud of today is we fought to the very end,” Kelly said. “I think if we don’t have a pitcher hitting with bases loaded in extra innings it might have a different result.”

Geraldo Perdomo update

Perdomo is considered day-to-day with a right knee issue, Lovullo said. It happened around first base when Perdomo was running.

“He’s not sure what happened. He just felt a lot of discomfort in his knee,” Lovullo said.

Lovullo said more updates will come Friday after an off day.

The Diamondbacks hit the road for six games starting with three at the Atlanta Braves Friday-Sunday. Tommy Henry, Brandon Pfaadt and Ryne Nelson are lined up to start, respectively.

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What led to Diamondbacks RHP Scott McGough’s at-bat with the game on the line vs. Yankees