Diamondbacks Take Early Lead, Defeat Mariners

Diamondbacks Mariners

Diamondbacks 4, Mariners 3

A three-run first inning gave the Arizona Diamondbacks an early lead that they never surrendered as they defeated the Seattle Mariners, 4-3, Friday night in Phoenix.

Caleb Smith made his first appearance with his new club, pitching three strong innings before giving way to a long-relief appearance by lefty Alex Young, who earned the win. The two of them combined to hold the Mariners to three runs on three hits while walking three and striking out four in 8 1/3 innings. Stefan Crichton pitched the final two outs of the game to earn the first save of his career, striking out one and getting the other to pop up.

Diamondbacks Post a Three-Run First

The Diamondbacks sent seven hitters to the plate in the bottom of the first after Smith blanked the Mariners in the top of the inning. Center fielder Tim Locastro led off with a single off Yusei Kikuchi. After left fielder Josh Rojas grounded into a 3-6 force play, beating the return throw to first and preventing a double play, first baseman Christian Walker laced a triple into the right-field corner. Eduardo Escobar, who usually plays third but played second on Friday, brought Walker home with a sacrifice fly to left. That brought up right fielder Kole Calhoun, who doubled, and shortstop Nick Ahmed, who singled him home to make the score 3-0.

The Mariners narrowed the gap to 3-1 in the top of the third when left fielder Dylan Moore blasted a homer into the left-field bleachers – the only hit and only run that Caleb Smith allowed. In the bottom of the inning, the Diamondbacks got that run back. Rojas led off with a single and advanced to second on a slow-rolling grounder to second by Walker. Escobar looped a high-arching double to right – one that right fielder Phil Ervin nearly caught on a sliding play near the line. Given Ervin’s effort, Rojas had to hold at second until the ball dropped, so he could not score on the double. It did not matter, however, as Calhoun drove him in with a sacrifice fly to center.

Enter Alex Young

Smith was one of the players the Miami Marlins sent to the Diamondbacks in the deadline-day deal for center fielder Starling Marte. When the Marlins had the COVID outbreak hit them, Smith was one of the players who tested positive. Consequently, his endurance has not yet built up to late-season form, so he went into the game knowing that he would only pitch the first three innings. “…we didn’t want to force things, knowing what his progression has been,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said after the game.

When the fourth started, Young came into the game. He began his outing with a 1-2-3 fourth, and in the fifth, his only blemish was a one-out walk that was ultimately harmless. After another 1-2-3 inning in the sixth by Young, a leadoff walk and wild pitch put first baseman Evan White on second with one out. Designated hitter Jose Marmolejos plated him with a single, bringing Ervin to the plate as the tying run. Any thoughts of tying the game in that inning went away when Ervin’s grounder to third turned into a 5-4-3 double play to end the half-inning.

Second baseman Ty France brought the Mariners to within 4-3 with a two-out solo homer in the top of the eighth. Young returned to face the first batter in the ninth, left-handed-hitting third baseman Kyle Seager. After Young struck him out swinging, righty Stefan Crichton came into the game to close it out. The next two hitters – White and catcher Luis Torrens, both righties – struck out looking and grounded to short, respectively, sealing the victory for the home nine.

Looking Ahead

The Mariners and Diamondbacks, as it stands at press time, will square off again Saturday evening at 5:10 Pacific. Southpaw Justus Sheffield (2-3, 4.34 ERA) will face Diamondbacks righty Zac Gallen (1-1, 2.29 ERA). Please note, however, that the San Francisco Giants had a positive COVID test that postponed Friday and Saturday’s games against the San Diego Padres. Since the Mariners played the Giants in their previous series, Major League Baseball has to conduct a contact tracing study. The results of that study might postpone the remainder of the Mariners-Diamondbacks series.

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