Diamondbacks, Down Six, Rally for Wild Win against Padres

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Diamondbacks 7, Padres 6

PHOENIX, Jun 28 — Down 6–0 going into the bottom of the seventh, the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied for seven runs over a strange final three innings to defeat the San Diego Padres, 7–6, Tuesday night. Third baseman Josh Rojas, designated hitter Ketel Marte, and shortstop Jake Hager each had two hits for the Diamondbacks. Second baseman Buddy Kennedy added three RBI. For the Padres, catcher Jorge Alfaro, designated hitter Luke Voit, and third baseman Ha-Seong Kim each had two-hit nights.

The game was a pitchers’ duel for the first four innings, with Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen only allowing two baserunners — both via singles — and Padres starter Sean Manaea only allowing a walk and a single. That all changed in the top of the fifth. Voit led off with a single and scored on a two-run follow-up home run by right fielder Nomar Mazara. A double by Kim and bunt single by shortstop C.J. Abrams put runners on the corners for center fielder Trent Grisham, whose unassisted RBI groundout to first extended the Padres lead to 3–0. Walks to left fielder Jurickson Profar and second baseman Jake Cronenworth loaded the bases for Alfaro, whose double brought them all home and gave the Padres a commanding 6–0 lead.

Diamondbacks Chip Away at Padres Lead

But the Diamondbacks did not give up. Caleb Smith, who entered in the sixth, pitched three scoreless innings in relief. This allowed the Diamondbacks to start chipping away against Manaea in the bottom of the seventh. Marte led off with a single and advanced to second when first baseman Christian Walker drew a walk. This brought up Kennedy, hitless since his Father’s Day grand slam, but someone who also squared up two balls Saturday only to be robbed by an atom ball and a highlight-reel diving catch. Kennedy squared a ball up here, too. This time, it landed nowhere near any fielder, landing near the left-field line and rolling all the way to the corner. Both Marte and Walker scored, making the score 6–2.

Exit stage left for Manaea, who gave way to lefty Tim Hill. Kelly also smoked one to left for a double, plating Kennedy to make the score 6–3. A pair of groundouts brought Kelly in, one to first unassisted by right fielder Daulton Varsho and the other to second by center fielder Alek Thomas. Hager ripped a comebacker that caromed off Hill for an infield single, but a warning-track fly to center off new pitcher Luis Garcia by pinch-hitter David Peralta left Hager stranded as the inning ended.

A Strange Bottom of the Eighth

Rojas led off the bottom of the eighth against Garcia with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch while Marte batted. Marte ultimately walked, as did Walker, loading the bases for Kennedy. He gained what will likely go down as the most painful RBI of his career when all is said and done. A 100-mph Garcia sinker drilled him on the right forearm. Once the training staff determined that Kennedy was okay and could continue playing, Padres manager Bob Melvin brought in closer Taylor Rogers. The first to face him was Kelly, who took a pitch off his left big toe. It was the same one he broke in 2021, but Kelly said afterwards that he felt fine. This brought in the tying run, and with nobody out, the Diamondbacks were in good position to take the lead.

With a drawn-in infield, Varsho rapped a one-hopper to Cronenworth, who threw home to force Walker. Kelly had to stop and wait before running to second; otherwise, he would have collided with Cronenworth and been called out for interference. Consequently, he had no chance of reaching second before Alfaro could gun throw him out. The double play brought up Thomas with runners on the corners. He struck out swinging, ending the inning with the score tied and two runners stranded.

Diamondbacks Hold Off Padres Threat, Later Seize Victory

Diamondbacks closer Mark Melancon entered the tie game in the top of the ninth. He walked Grisham before retiring Profar on a fly to center. That brought up Cronenworth. Two wild pitches advanced Grisham to third, drawing nervous gasps as Cronenworth struck out on a pitch in the dirt. Kelly blocked this one, throwing to first to complete the strikeout as Grisham had to hold. Alfaro also struck out on a pitch in the dirt. Kelly repeated his feat from the previous at-bat, blocking the pitch before throwing to first in time to end the half-inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, Austin Nola took over behind the plate for Alfaro, who limped off the field after running to first in the top half. Rogers returned to the hill for the frame. Rojas said about this, “We knew we had a good chance…. He’s not used to sitting down and then coming out to throw again.” It didn’t look like Rogers was affected initially, with Hager and Peralta both striking out, but Rojas got to him with a 3–1 single up the middle. Marte followed with a frozen rope up the middle, putting runners on first and second for Walker.

The Final Play

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What followed was a sequence few involved, if any, had seen before. Walker hit a sharp bouncer to the right side. Sure-handed first baseman Eric Hosmer, playing well off the line, made a diving stop to his right. His choices were to try for the out at second or, being left-handed, roll over and throw to Rogers covering at first. Either choice would have been a close play. He chose second, where Abrams hadn’t even arrived to cover the bag. The throw never reached Abrams. Marte had done a pop-up slide. The ball hit him and trickled away. Rojas, meanwhile, had rounded third and bolted home. When the ball landed, Rojas was diving across the plate.

Bedlam.

The Diamondbacks had come from six runs down to win the game, matching the largest comeback victory in team history. Out came a jubilant team, mobbing a grinning Walker behind first. Jordan Luplow put the bubble gum bucket on Walker’s head as a makeshift crown. It was the first walk-off plate appearance of Walker’s career. When asked after the game if it was exactly how he drew it up, Walker laughed. “Definitely not,” he replied.

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Postgame Reflections

Manager Torey Lovullo called it a “great team win.” He continued, “…you fall down six to nothing, you make a couple of mistakes along the way that compound things, and you’re in a situation where you have to fight a real uphill battle… But our guys didn’t shut down. This team has a good heartbeat. They’ve shown over the past couple of days the ability to come back and do something like this. I know that we had about a two-week period of time where it wasn’t going the way we wanted to. But today it was a perfect example of what this team is capable of doing. We are always coaching them up. They’re coaching themselves up to just get something like a runner or two on base. And this is what we’re capable of doing.

“Zac didn’t have his best stuff today. I thought he was very effective early, and then in that six-run inning, I think he was making mistakes and just couldn’t seem to catch his breath. Things stabilized. Caleb Smith came in and did an unbelievable job for three innings and let us catch our breath a little bit, play a little bit of catch up. When he left the game, we were tied. Without his outing, we would have had no opportunity to do what we did.”

Turning Things Around

“Offensively, we had a couple of guys that impacted the baseball at the right time. Ketel Marte. Rojas. Hager with multiple hits. Really clutch situations, the hit by pitches — you can’t make up some of the things that I that I saw today. You don’t necessarily see a 4-2-6 double play very often with the bases loaded. The way the game ended, we took advantage of a lot of key situations and won a baseball game. I’m excited for these guys. They were excited. It was fun to be out there on the field watching that celebration.”

The turning point of the game, according to Lovullo, was “getting their closer in the game.” He also felt strongly about the eighth inning, keying on “some very patient approaches. The four runs that we got with some timely hitting — outstanding. But I thought we were very stubborn with the Garcia appearance, and guys just found their way on base. We loaded up the bases and got hit by a couple pitches. It wasn’t done in a very traditional way. We were just very stubborn at the right time. And I think that’s what we’ve got to do as a team.”

Caleb Smith

As Lovullo mentioned, Smith’s scoreless long-relief outing is what gave the Diamondbacks a chance to come back. His approach seemed simple. He said that when he took the mound, his thought was “trying to throw up zeroes and give our team the opportunity to come back. And then that’s what we did tonight.” Smith added that he felt like “everything was working, for the most part. I was able to stay in the strike zone when I needed to and evacuate the strike zone whenever I got ahead.”

Although Lovullo said Smith was the reason the team had the opportunity to even come back, Smith shared the credit. “I was just throwing the ball,” he explained. “My defense made plays behind me, we were swinging the bats, and it worked out for us in the end.”

Looking Ahead

Melancon (3–6) earned the win, while Rogers (0–4) took the double whammy of a blown save and a loss. The Diamondbacks and Padres will play the second game of their two-game mini-series Wednesday afternoon. Lefty Madison Bumgarner (3–7, 3.75 ERA) and righty Mike Clevinger (1–0, 3.52 ERA) will start for the Diamondbacks (34–41) and Padres (45–31), respectively. First pitch will be at 12:40 pm Arizona Time/Pacific Time.

Main Photo Credits:

PHOENIX, Jun 28 — Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Buddy Kennedy (45) bats against San Diego Padres left-hander Sean Manaea (not pictured) in the bottom of the second inning at Chase Field. Jorge Alfaro is the catcher. (Photo by Evan Thompson)

Players/managers mentioned:

Josh Rojas, Ketel Marte, Jake Hager, Buddy Kennedy, Jorge Alfaro, Luke Voit, Ha-Seong Kim, Zac Gallen, Sean Manaea, Nomar Mazara, C.J. Abrams, Trent Grisham, Jurickson Profar, Jake Cronenworth, Caleb Smith, Christian Walker, Tim Hill, Daulton Varsho, Alek Thomas, Luis Garcia, David Peralta, Bob Melvin, Taylor Rogers, Mark Melancon, Austin Nola, Eric Hosmer, Jordan Luplow, Torey Lovullo, Madison Bumgarner, Mike Clevinger