Varsho Walks It Off as Diamondbacks Top Padres

Diamondbacks Padres

Diamondbacks 3, Padres 2

PHOENIX, Aug. 13 — A good, old-fashioned pitchers’ duel between Arizona Diamondbacks lefty Madison Bumgarner and San Diego Padres lefty Blake Snell ended with a bang. Daulton Varsho belted a leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Diamondbacks a 3–2 victory over the Padres Friday night. Varsho’s roundtripper capped an evening where he went 2-for-3 with a home run, a walk, and two RBI.

The Opening Salvo

The Diamondbacks struck first, plating a run in the bottom of the second. Catcher Carson Kelly led off with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After strikeouts by right fielder Pavin Smith and first baseman Christian Walker, second baseman Josh Rojas drew a walk. That brought up Varsho, the left fielder. “(Snell) located his first two pitches very well. I was trying to get my timing on the first pitch. It was the first time I faced him,” Varsho said. On the fourth pitch, Varsho drove Kelly in with a single. The score became 2–0 in the bottom of the fifth on a Ketel Marte blast to the seats in left.

Bumgarner cruised through the first six innings, scattering five hits while striking out four and walking none. Only twice did a runner reach scoring position: catcher Austin Nola in the second and right fielder Wil Myers in the fifth. Nola singled and advanced on a single by Myers, while Myers reached third in the fifth after a double and a productive groundout.

Padres Draw Even with Diamondbacks, Setting the Stage for Varsho

Bumgarner lost it in the seventh. A leadoff single by first baseman and Diamondback killer Eric Hosmer set the table for Myers, who tied the game with his 13th home run of the season. Bumgarner struck out the next two — center fielder Trent Grisham and pinch-hitter Ha-Seong Kim. But when left fielder Tommy Pham and second baseman Adam Frazier followed with consecutive singles, manager Torey Lovullo took the ball from Bumgarner. He left the field to a rousing ovation as Taylor Clarke took the hill to face third baseman Manny Machado, who struck out.

Daniel Hudson pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh. Clarke responded with a scoreless top of the eighth, with a two-out double by Hosmer as the only blemish. A perfect bottom of the eighth from Emilio Pagan preceded a 1-2-3 top of the ninth by Tyler Clippard.

In came Craig Stammen to pitch the ninth for the Padres. Varsho was the first to face him. During Varsho’s freshman year at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Varsho hit a walk-off home run. He repeated the heroics here on the sixth pitch for his first as a major leaguer. “I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit. He located the first fastball pretty well and stuck with the fastball throughout the whole at bat. I knew he had a good curveball. So seeing it up was kind of a big thing there. I got a pitch I could hit and handled it pretty well,” Varsho said with an innocent hint of understatement.

Pitching Performances

Manager Torey Lovullo called Bumgarner’s performance “another unbelievable outing.” He continued, “(He had a) great finish to his stuff. I extended him a little bit into that 100-pitch range because I felt like he was very capable of that. We’ve tried to save certain guys for certain matchups, and him kind of working his way back around and doing what he did enabled us to get some bullpen matchups that we that we wanted. I can’t say enough good things about what he’s been doing, how he’s been leading this charge with our starting pitching.” Lovullo ended with a simple summation: “He was fantastic today.”

Lovullo did not want to overlook the performances of Clarke and Clippard. “We’ve got to give them a little bit of love, too,” Lovullo said. “Clarke comes in with men at first and second base and goes on the attack and gets a huge out to finish the seventh. Then (he) does basically the same thing in the eighth and sets it up for Clip. (These are) two dependable guys that have done it for us this season. Obviously, we counted on them, and they came through. It was a great moment for those two guys.”

Contributions from the Young

About the walkoff, Varsho said, “I don’t know if there’s another thing that you can compare it to in life. You just see the people at home plate — your teammates who have grinded with you the whole year. It’s just a fun — it’s literally adrenaline through the roof.”

Varsho was not the only young Diamondback who had a good night. Rojas went 2-for-3 with a walk and a double, something that did not go unnoticed despite the fact that he did not score any runs. Bumgarner said about Rojas and Varsho, “It’s fun to watch. I like both those guys a lot. And I like when they’re in the lineup and out there behind me. I was extremely happy for both of them, and I think they’re both going to stick around and be pretty dang good ballplayers.” He quickly added, “They already are. I think they’re gonna be good big leaguers. I’m excited to see it and see what happens.”

Looking Ahead

Clippard (1–0) earned the win, while Stammen (5–3) took the loss, both in relief. The Diamondbacks (37–80) and Padres (66–52) will play the third game of the four-game series Saturday evening. Diamondbacks left-hander Tyler Gilbert (0–1, 0.00 ERA) will make his first career start, facing Padres right-hander Joe Musgrove (8–7, 2.81 ERA). First pitch will be at 5:10 pm Arizona Time.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Players/managers mentioned:

Madison Bumgarner, Blake Snell, Daulton Varsho, Carson Kelly, Pavin Smith, Christian Walker, Josh Rojas, Ketel Marte, Austin Nola, Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, Trent Grisham, Ha-Seong Kim, Tommy Pham, Adam Frazier, Torey Lovullo, Taylor Clarke, Manny MachadoDaniel Hudson, Emilio Pagan, Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen, Tyler Gilbert, Joe Musgrove 

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