ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Diamondbacks’ victory squirts away to the backstop, Cubs swipe win in extras

Apr 16, 2024, 12:12 AM | Updated: 12:37 am

Nico Hoerner...

Nico Hoerner #42 of the Chicago Cubs scores on a wild pitch by Kevin Ginkle #42 of the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning at Chase Field on April 15, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. All players are wearing the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Gabriel Moreno looked around for the baseball, and reliever Kevin Ginkel covered home plate with a sinking feeling of going after it himself with the game on the line.

A wild pitch jumped away to no-man’s land, and Cubs runner Nico Hoerner scored from second base to tie Monday’s ballgame at Chase Field in the ninth inning at 2-2 with Chicago down to its final out.

The misfortune led to a Diamondbacks 3-2 loss in 11 innings, their third extra-inning loss in as many tries this season.

Monday was set up as a five-inning pitcher’s duel between Arizona’s (8-9) Merrill Kelly and Chicago’s (10-6) Ben Brown, capped by a heroic moment from Corbin Carroll, who delivered the go-ahead knock in the eighth inning off left-hander Drew Smyly. Cubs manager Craig Counsell opted to walk Ketel Marte with first base open to face Carroll with two outs and the platoon advantage.

Instead, the game-deciding hit came three frames later from Hoerner.

“It’s a tough loss to absorb because of the way we lost but we got to remember what we did. We put ourselves in a position where we’re one out away,” Manager Torey Lovullo said.

“You don’t get credit for close, we got to find a way to get better tomorrow and be ready.”

The wild pitch was set up by a pair of singles off Ginkel that allowed two runners on with one out. Ginkel blew away Miles Mastrobuoni with fastballs and got Ian Happ to lineout softly to end the inning. During Happ’s at-bat, an 0-1 slider bounced well beyond the on-deck circle, and Hoerner never broke his stride.

“I’ve gotten some got some details on it. Gabi went down to block a baseball and it hit off a particular part of his hand that normally when he feels that the ball goes left,” Lovullo said. “He just got a late jump to go with the baseball. I can’t blame him. He’s an instinctual guy.

“You don’t traditionally see a runner score from second base. … He knew the part of his hand, he knew the result of when he gets hit in that particular spot where the ball goes and it didn’t go to where he usually thought it does.”

Ginkel said he has never chased after his own wild pitch before, but he had a read on it and thought about calling Moreno off. His job there is to cover home, though.

“Hoerner on the base paths, he runs really well, and as that ball got away and I cover home, I saw him rounding third and I’m like, ‘Okay, this is the game right here,'” Ginkel said. “Beat it by a foot or two. If there was any other base runner who didn’t have that speed, probably would have stopped at third. But it shouldn’t come to that. It should have been a 1-2-3. I’ll take accountability for that.”

That is four blown saves this season for Arizona, the second for Ginkel on an otherwise standout day for the bullpen.

Lovullo praised the work of reliever Bryce Jarvis, who allowed one ghost runner to score in two innings of work, even with the bases loaded and no outs in the 11th. Hoerner punched a fastball at nearly eye level into right field for the go-ahead knock, but Jarvis retired the next three hitters, the final two on strikeouts.

Jarvis induced a critical double play to end the 10th, as well.

“I’m just trying to get ahead of guys and pitch like there’s no one on base,” Jarvis said. “If I make the pitches I know I’m capable of, then ultimately that runner won’t score.”

The bullpen got through six innings with only the one earned run after Kelly lasted five frames and threw 96 pitches (one earned run).

The offense went 0-for-9 past the eighth inning, which has been an early trend of the season (26 wRC+ in high leverage entering Monday).

The D-backs had runners on first and second with no outs in the 10th — bunting with Randal Grichuk in that case was not an option, as Lovullo said the veteran isn’t among his bunting group.

Arizona had Marte on third base with one out in the 11th and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Christian Walker due up.

Gurriel hit a shallow fly ball to right field, and Marte held up. Lovullo said postgame he believes Marte would have been thrown out at home with the cleanup hitter on deck. Walker failed to check his swing on a cutter away to end the game.

“Gurriel is staying on the baseball, I thought the direction he was trying to hit the baseball was telling me he had a good plan,” Lovullo said. “The ball beat him a little bit. He’s a clutch hitter, he knows what he’s doing. So, I think the approach was satisfactory in a lot of different cases. … There are some things that took place I felt we could have built innings in a different way the inning before, but it just didn’t happen.”

When will Montgomery start?

Lovullo was not definitive, but his understanding is veteran Jordan Montgomery has to be with the club on Friday.

Thursday is the fifth day since Montgomery started in Triple-A Reno, but Lovullo confirmed Ryne Nelson will make his start as normal to open the series at the San Francisco Giants.

“I’m still planning on having him walk into this building on the 19th,” Lovullo said. “I think that’s the first day contractually that they’ve agreed upon, but I could be wrong.”

Diamondbacks-Cubs series continues

The second game of the series on Tuesday starts at 6:40 p.m. with Tommy Henry matched up against Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks.

Tune in on the Arizona Sports app, 98.7 and ArizonaSports.com. 

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