Diamondbacks Capitalize on Mistakes in Victory over Twins

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Diamondbacks 7, Twins 2

PHOENIX, Jun 17 — The Arizona Diamondbacks, aided partly by two errors from their normally sure-handed opponents, clubbed 11 hits en route to a 7–2 victory over the Minnesota Twins Friday night. The victory gave Twins left-hander Devin Smeltzer his first loss of the season. Right fielder Jordan Luplow hit two home runs, his sixth career multi-homer game, as second baseman Jake Hager, in a 3-for-4 effort, had his first career multi-hit game. Center fielder Alek Thomas also had multiple hits, contributing two to give starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner run support in a year where he hasn’t had much.

The game opened in a bleak manner for the Diamondbacks, as Twins center fielder Byron Buxton smashed the second pitch of the game into the left-field seats. It was a soaring 113-mph drive that traveled 446 feet, one of the hardest-hit — and deepest — balls at Chase Field all season. Two batters later, third baseman Gio Urshela ripped a 105-mph rocket, but shortstop Geraldo Perdomo made easy work of it for the second out. The next two hitters, catcher Gary Sanchez and second baseman Luis Arraez, also hit balls over 100 mph. Sanchez’s dropped in for a single, and Arraez’s bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double.

This saved a run for the Diamondbacks. Sanchez would have scored easily had the ball stayed in play. Instead, he had to stop at third, and the next hitter — first baseman Jose Miranda — lined to center fielder Alek Thomas, who made a running grab for the third out.

Diamondbacks Take Lead from Twins

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Catcher Carson Kelly led off the bottom of the first. He was someone who desperately needed to get his offense going, since he entered the game batting .104. Batting a .104 hitter leadoff tends to draw questions, but manager Torey Lovullo and the coaching staff had their reasons. “We were down one of our best right-handed hitters in Ketel (Marte), and I was trying to break the lineup up the best way I could so we couldn’t get matched up. I know they got one lefty in the bullpen that could be able to walk right through us. And I was trying to stop that and prevent future matchups. We got to attack the starter, and the matchup was a good matchup for Carson. we have a lot of information that comes my way. So my instincts were telling me it’d be a good day for him.

“The information — the stack of paperwork that I had in my in my office — was telling me it was going to be a good day. I was just looking to get help Carson get started. And I want to put him in the right situation to give him an opportunity to have some success. So it’s still a work in progress for him, but it was two base hits. And that’s hopefully something that gets moving in the right direction.”

It worked out for Kelly right away, as he lined a single to lead off the bottom of the first. Two batters later, left fielder Jordan Luplow belted a one-out drive to left. It went nearly as deep into the seats as Buxton’s — 433 feet — giving the Diamondbacks a 2–1 lead.

Twins Tie Game, Diamondbacks Respond

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Buxton hit another ball hard in the top of the second, doubling to left, but it did not lead to a run. In the top of the third, Urshela crushed a deep drive to center, one that would have left the yard in most parks. With no wall, it would have traveled 424 feet. But Chase Field has a 25-foot wall above the 407 sign in center, and Urshela’s drive hit about two-thirds of the way up that wall, giving him a double. A fly to right by Sanchez advanced him to third, bringing up Arraez.

Arraez entered the game batting an AL-leading .354. The infield played in to try and prevent a run-scoring ground ball. Arraez ripped a low liner toward right. Second baseman Jake Hager dove to his left, knocking the ball down. Hager checked third after gathering the ball. Upon seeing that Urshela stayed put, Hager threw to first, but the hustling Arraez beat it out. With runners now on the corners, Miranda singled to left, tying the game as Urshela scored. A walk by right fielder Max Kepler loaded the bases for center fielder Gilberto Celestino, who grounded into a rally-killing 6-4-3 double play. This retired the side as the Twins stranded two runners in scoring position.

The Diamondbacks retook the lead in the bottom of the third. It came on a two-out solo homer to left by Luplow, his second of the game. This was the sixth multi-homer game of his career. It also meant that of his 17 hits in 2022, 11 — two doubles and nine homers, 65% — were extra-base hits.

Miscues Seal Fate

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In the bottom of the fourth, designated hitter and major league debutant Buddy Kennedy drew a leadoff walk. He advanced to second on a line-drive single to center by Thomas. That brought up Hager, who dropped a bunt toward the left side. It caught the Twins completely off guard, forcing Smeltzer to field the bunt on a dead run near the line. To have a chance at getting Hager, Smeltzer planted and made a strong throw, but it sailed over a leaping Miranda and into foul ground outside right field. Kennedy scored easily, as did Thomas, who missed a stop sign but dove in ahead of the throw home. Hager reached second amidst the chaos. Perdomo, up next, sacrificed Hager to third. That brought up Kelly, who plated Hager with a bloop single to right, his second hit of the game.

The three-run inning gave the Diamondbacks a 6–2 lead. In the fifth, that lead grew to 7–2. A one-out bunt single by right fielder Daulton Varsho got the rally going. Up came Kennedy, grandson of 16-year infielder and four-time All-Star Don Money. Kennedy had a large contingent in attendance, including his mother, father, sister, two cousins, and Money himself. As Diamondbacks field reporter Todd Walsh interviewed Money on the game broadcast, Kennedy cracked a single to right, his very first major league hit. Thomas followed with a ground ball to third. Urshela tried to throw to second to force Kennedy but bobbled the ball, and everyone was safe. A single by Hager, his third of the game, scored Varsho to finalize the score.

Postgame Reflections

Bumgarner, when asked how he felt, said, “I feel like I gave up a lot of hits (nine, to be exact), but I’m glad we won the game. I actually felt pretty good about how I threw against a good team that I haven’t seen very much of. I’m just happy with the end result.” He said that he doesn’t have an answer for why he keeps giving up runs early, because he felt like he pitched well in the first three innings, too.

The double play to end the top of the third helped him settle down a bit. “Those are helpful,” Bumgarner said with a smile. “I was pretty thankful for that.” Furthermore, getting run support helped, especially given that the Diamondbacks were shut out in each of his previous three starts. “That does make it a lot easier. I know the offense can’t put up seven runs every game, but when you have a three- or four-run lead, it’s a little bit different mentality.”

The Skipper Speaks

Lovullo called the win a “well-played game.” He added, “We did a really good job in a lot of different areas today. I thought (Bumgarner), after some early runs, really settled in. (He) gave us six innings and kind of controlled the game from the third inning on. I thought he did a really nice job of making pitches and executing. (We) made plays behind him, and that’s key.

“Offensively, we made a couple of statements. They were made loud and clear by Jordan Luplow, who had a two-run home run that got us right back into the game. And then another home run put us ahead. Those were big hits, much needed moments at the most critical time of the game. He executed, and then the rest of the guys followed with some small-ball base hits and some good clutch hitting. (It) was just a really, really good game. A fun game to watch, fun game to watch these guys execute in and do a lot of things right, a lot of little things right that we talked about that help us win games. Good focus, good prep work, and very good execution, especially with the smaller details of this game.”

For a team that has suffered some frustrating losses recently in winnable games, Lovullo said it was nice to get a good win against a division leader. “They’re a good baseball team,” Lovullo said about the Twins. “They’re leading the AL Central, and it’s not by accident. They came in here and were thumping mistakes early. Credit to Bum for slowing that down. It’s nice to win Game One. We got to enjoy this one, come out tomorrow, and play just as well.”

Looking Ahead

Bumgarner (3–6, 3.45 ERA), who allowed two earned runs in six innings, earned the win while recording a quality start. Smeltzer (3–1, 3.52 ERA) took the loss while allowing seven runs (six earned) in 4 1/3 innings, a rough start that increased his ERA by 1.07. The Diamondbacks (31–35) and Twins (37–29) will face off again Saturday night in the second game of their three-game weekend interleague series. Luke Weaver (1–0, 4.91 ERA) and Dylan Bundy (3–3, 5.87 ERA) will start for the Diamondbacks and Twins, respectively, in a battle of right-handers. First pitch will be later than usual for a Saturday — 7:10 pm Arizona Time.

Main Photo Credits:

PHOENIX, Jun 17 — Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Jake Hager bats against Minnesota Twins pitcher Devin Smeltzer in the bottom of the second inning of Arizona’s 7–2 victory at Chase Field. Gary Sanchez is the catcher, and Laz Diaz is the plate umpire. Hager singled on the next pitch. (Photo by Evan Thompson)

Players/managers mentioned:

Devin Smeltzer, Jordan Luplow, Jake Hager, Alek Thomas, Madison Bumgarner, Byron Buxton, Gio Urshela, Geraldo Perdomo, Gary Sanchez, Luis Arraez, Jose Miranda, Carson Kelly, Torey Lovullo, Max Kepler, Gilberto Celestino, Buddy Kennedy, Daulton Varsho, Don Money, Luke Weaver, Dylan Bundy