Varsho, Walker, Marte Slug Diamondbacks Past Marlins

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Diamondbacks 4, Marlins 3

PHOENIX, May 9 — Daulton Varsho, Christian Walker, and Ketel Marte each swatted two hits, with Marte hitting a go-ahead homer in the sixth, to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 4–3 victory over the Miami Marlins Monday night. Varsho and Walker each added a double in the victory, while Marlins first baseman Garrett Cooper homered in defeat.

Diamondbacks, Marlins Score Early

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The Diamondbacks struck first, putting two on the board in the bottom of the first off Marlins starter Elieser Hernandez. Catcher Daulton Varsho led off with a double to right. Right fielder Pavin Smith struck out before left fielder David Peralta walked. First baseman Christian Walker doubled down the left-field line, plating Varsho and advancing Peralta to third. Third baseman Josh Rojas dragged a bunt toward first, catching the defense flat-footed as Peralta scored and Walker advanced to third. The Diamondbacks added no more in the first, as second baseman Ketel Marte flied to shallow right and designated hitter Seth Beer whiffed.

But the lead did not last long. The Marlins mounted a two-out rally in the top of the second off Diamondbacks starter Humberto Castellanos.Back-to-back singles by right fielder Avisail Garcia and center fielder Jesus Sanchez put runners on the corners. Shortstop Miguel Rojas walked to load the bases for catcher Jacob Stallings, whose single tied the game. Second baseman Jazz Chisholm, Jr. lined to center, stranding both Rojas and Stallings.

Diamondbacks Take Lead, Marlins Tie It Up

Rookie center fielder Alek Thomas, playing in his second game, led off the bottom of the second with a high bouncer toward second. Chisholm muffed it, and the error put Thomas on first. An unassisted groundout to first by shortstop Geraldo Perdomo advanced Thomas to second. Varsho singled, his second hit of the game, to bring Thomas around and make the score 3–2, Diamondbacks.

Marlins first baseman Garrett Cooper led off the fourth with a homer to right, re-tying the game. The tie lasted until the bottom of the sixth with one out, when Marte ripped a 108-mph, 438-foot blast past the pool in right-center. That bomb chased Elieser Hernandez from the game. New pitcher Tommy Nance struck out both Beer and Thomas to keep the score 4–3 as the sixth ended.

Relievers to the Rescue

Diamondbacks lefty Kyle Nelson, who took over with one out in the top of the sixth, retired three of the four batters he faced. His only blemish was a single by third baseman Joey Wendle, the first hitter to face him. Noe Ramirez took over pitching duties with one out in the seventh. Miguel Rojas welcomed him to the game with a single. However, it mattered little, as Varsho gunned him down on a stolen base attempt. The other hitter Ramirez faced, Stallings, grounded to third.

Setup man Ian Kennedy pitched around two singles for a scoreless eighth. Closer Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth, getting around a leadoff single with a fielder’s choice force play and 4-6-3 double play. This gave him his sixth save of the season, top-ten in the National League.

Postgame Reflections

Manager Torey Lovullo called the game “a good team win.” He added that Castellanos was “grinding it out out there. I don’t think he had his best stuff today. (It was) a little bit of a fistfight for him, but he was making pitches when he had to. He started to spin his curveball up there and got some swing-and-miss. I think he might tell you himself that it was a grind for him today. But he got into that sixth inning, allowing us to match it up in the bullpen. They took it over from there, got the lead, and hung onto (it). We made some good defensive plays — just a good day all the way around.”

Lovullo said “it was great” to see Melancon get a six-pitch save after the outing he had Saturday night against the Colorado Rockies. “He’s so professional. The beauty of Mark is that you don’t know, in a conversation, if he’s having a good day, bad day, (bad) outcome, or good outcome. He just knows how to get it done. He’s going to make pitches and knows how to land pitches. (Mark is) going to put himself in the best position to have success through the bat. It was nice for him to get out there and get a save. He made pitches, and we made plays behind him.”

Kyle Nelson

When Nelson entered the game, his goal was to “feed off what (Castellanos) had been doing all day — attacking the strike zone, trying to get ahead of the hitters. We as relievers try to basically come in and continue to do what the starter has been doing all day. I tried to feed off his energy, feed off his momentum. That was my thought process — attack the zone and get back in the dugout as soon as possible.

Nelson’s last batter was Jesus Sanchez in the top of the seventh, and he knew beforehand that Sanchez would be his last. Sanchez struck out swinging at a pitch that squirted toward the backstop. Varsho sprinted to the ball, did a popup slide as he fielded it, and fired a bullet to first. It beat the speedy Sanchez by less than a step. Nelson said, “Varsh made a great play there, and I was very happy about that.” But the play was big for another reason. “It always feels good to leave the game with no runners on for your buddy coming in behind you,” he pointed out. “You want him to have clean bases. And then, especially, Noe starting that inning with one out, it’s always nicer to not have the stress of someone else’s run.”

Looking Ahead

Nelson earned the win in relief, giving him his first major league win. Hernandez took the loss. The Diamondbacks (16–14) and Marlins (13–16) will play the second game of their three-game series Tuesday night. Jesus Luzardo (2–2, 3.08 ERA) will start for the Marlins, facing Diamondbacks lefty Madison Bumgarner (1–1, 1.50 ERA). This will be Bumgarner’s first start since his May 4 ejection after one inning by umpire Dan Bellino, who later apologized for his conduct. First pitch will be at 6:40 pm Arizona Time.

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Players mentioned:

Daulton Varsho, Christian Walker, Ketel Marte, Garrett Cooper, Elieser Hernandez, Pavin Smith, David Peralta, Josh Rojas, Seth Beer, Humberto Castellanos, Avisail Garcia, Jesus Sanchez, Miguel Rojas, Jacob Stallings, Jazz Chisholm, Jr., Alek Thomas, Geraldo Perdomo, Tommy Nance, Kyle Nelson, Joey Wendle, Noe Ramirez, Ian Kennedy, Mark Melancon, Torey Lovullo, Jesus Luzardo, Madison Bumgarner