Diamondbacks Rally, Use Eight-Run Inning to Whip Pirates

Diamondbacks Pirates

Diamondbacks 11, Pirates 6

PHOENIX, July 20 — The Arizona Diamondbacks used an eight-run seventh inning to rally from a 5–1 deficit and clobber the Pittsburgh Pirates, 11–6, Tuesday night. Josh VanMeter, who entered the game in a double switch in the fourth, went 3-for-3 — falling a home run short of the cycle — to pace the comeback.

Pirates starter Tyler Anderson did not allow a baserunner in the first three innings. His team took the lead in the top of the fourth. After a one-out walk by first baseman John Nogowski, Gregory Polanco belted a no-doubt home run to the right-field bleachers.

Diamondbacks Chip Away at Pirates Lead

The Diamondbacks got one back in the bottom of the fourth on consecutive one-out hits — a single by left fielder Josh Rojas and double by All-Star third baseman Eduardo Escobar. In the top of the fifth, the Pirates responded with a pair of leadoff singles by second baseman Adam Frazier and third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. After a fly to right and 4–6 force play, first baseman Nogowski deposited a 2–1 slider into the first row of the left-field seats for a three-run homer. This gave the visiting nine a 5–1 lead.

The Diamondbacks scored one in the bottom of the fifth while leaving more on the table. Right fielder Josh Reddick poked a leadoff single. After center fielder Stuart Fairchild struck out, Daulton Varsho, VanMeter, and Nick Ahmed notched consecutive singles. Ahmed’s brought in Reddick for the second run. However, since each single was a low liner near an infielder, the runners had to wait to run until the ball got through. This forced them to go station-to-station on each single, meaning that the four hits only brought one run. Up came Josh Rojas to try to extend the hit parade, but he hit a one-hopper to the pitcher. The resultant 1-2-3 double play brought the inning to a screeching halt.

In the bottom of the sixth, a walk by Escobar and follow-up double by first baseman Christian Walker made the score 5–3. Walker advanced to third on a grounder to second by pinch-hitter Kole Calhoun, but a pop to third by Reddick and fly to center by Fairchild left him stranded.

Flipping the Script and Blowing It Open

The Diamondbacks turned the game around in the seventh off new pitchers Austin Davis and Clay Holmes. A leadoff walk by Varsho turned into the fourth run, thanks to a follow-up triple by VanMeter. He scored the tying run on a single by Ahmed, up next. Rojas walked, putting runners on first and second, before Escobar launched a deep fly to left. Left fielder Ben Gamel leapt with his back to the wall, making an impressive catch before crashing and stumbling.

This brought in Holmes to face Walker with one out in a righty-right matchup. Walker prevailed, taking a walk to load the bases for Calhoun. He fanned, bringing up Reddick, who ripped a single to left-center. Ahmed and Rojas both scored as Walker took third, giving the Diamondbacks a 7–5 lead over the Pirates. A pinch-single by David Peralta off the shortstop’s glove brought Walker home, making the score 8–5 as Reddick hustled to third. Varsho, batting for the second time in the inning, made the score 9–5 when he beat out a slow bouncer to the shortstop, who was playing up the middle in a shift. A base-clearing double by VanMeter cleared the bases and made it an 11–5 ballgame.

Matt Peacock and Nick Mears combined for a scoreless eighth for the Diamondbacks and Pirates, respectively. In the ninth, Peacock retired Perez on a 4–3 groundout before Phillip Evans laced a pinch-double to the right-field corner. Frazier grounded to second, advancing Evans to third, before Hayes lined an RBI single to center. This finalized the score at 11–6.

Postgame Reflections

Widener felt that he “started off pretty good” and “did a decent job.” He said, “There were a few pitches I left over the middle of the plate. Other than those few pitches, I felt it was pretty good and was something to build off of.” He said his endurance felt good, but that his mechanics went awry in the fifth, and that’s what ended his outing.

Varsho (.144) and VanMeter (.182) had multi-hit games, something that anyone hitting below .200 loves to do. “These guys are grinding,” manager Torey Lovullo said, “and when you do see (your batting average on the scoreboard) — every hitter tends to look at it when they’re walking up to home plate. That’s part of the fight that you have every single day. We ask our guys to block it out, have a productive at-bat, and take it pitch-to-pitch. That’s going to yield very positive results.

“We know that they’re not that type of hitter. The entire organization knows that they’re capable of putting up some huge numbers. And they will, but there’s a learning curve here. They’re growing up and maturing, and it’s going to take some time. But for them to have a good day — they’re both going to sleep well tonight. When you’re grinding the way they have been, and you have this type of night, it’s pretty special.”

“A Really Cool Game to Be a Part Of”

VanMeter had an unusual accomplishment, hitting both a triple and a double in the same inning. Furthermore, he fell a home run shy of the cycle in a span of three innings. “Normally, guys are more scared to make two outs in an inning than getting two hits,” VanMeter said. “I think that’s the first time I’ve ever (hit both in an inning). To get RBIs in both situations was really cool, too, with where we were in the game. I was a homer short of the cycle in three innings, which I’ve definitely never done before, either. It was a really cool game to be a part of, and hopefully we can keep it going.”

Looking Ahead

The Diamondbacks (29–68) and Pirates (36–59) will conclude their three-game series Wednesday afternoon, with first pitch at 12:40 pm Arizona Time. The Diamondbacks will start Madison Bumgarner (4–6, 5.35 ERA) in his second start since returning from a long injured-list stint, while the Pirates starter has yet to be announced.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Players/managers mentioned:

Josh VanMeter, Tyler Anderson, John Nogowski, Gregory Polanco, Josh Rojas, Eduardo Escobar, Adam Frazier, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Josh Reddick, Stuart Fairchild, Daulton Varsho, Nick Ahmed, Christian Walker, Kole Calhoun, Austin Davis, Clay Holmes, Ben Gamel, David PeraltaMatt Peacock, Nick Mears, Phillip Evans, Torey Lovullo, Madison Bumgarner