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Aggressive Baserunning Leads Diamondbacks to Win Over Mistake-Prone Giants

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Diamondbacks 8, Giants 3

PHOENIX, July 4 — Two stolen bases, two Giants throwing errors, a score from first on a double, and a first-to-third on a sacrifice bunt paced the Arizona Diamondbacks to an 8–3 Independence Day victory over the San Francisco Giants Monday afternoon. Center fielder/right fielder Daulton Varsho went 3-for-4 with three RBI in the win, while second baseman Buddy Kennedy went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Diamondbacks left-hander Madison Bumgarner scattered three runs and five hits over five innings, striking out four, while Giants left-hander Carlos Rodon coughed up four earned runs over five innings in defeat.

The teams combined for seven runs in the first three innings. In the top of the first, the Giants took advantage of a hit batsman and two walks — all with one out. This loaded the bases for right fielder LaMonte Wade, whose single scored Wilmer Flores from third and Darin Ruf from second. A 6–4–3 double-play groundout by designated hitter Yermin Mercedes ended the half-inning and limited the damage to two runs.

The Diamondbacks got both runs back in the bottom half. Right fielder Jordan Luplow and left fielder Cooper Hummel led off with a double and walk, respectively. Two batters later, first baseman Christian Walker drew a walk, loading the bases for Kennedy. His single to center brought in both Luplow and Hummel. Consecutive strikeouts by third baseman Josh Rojas and catcher Carson Kelly stranded Walker and Kennedy.

Diamondbacks Take Lead over Giants, Never Look Back

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The Diamondbacks took a two-run lead in the bottom of the second aided, in part, by sloppy defense. Speedy center fielder Daulton Varsho legged out an infield single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Geraldo Perdomo. When Varsho reached second, he rounded the bag and broke for third, seeing no one covering. Catcher Curt Casali got there soon enough to make a play, but the throw from Flores at first base sailed well over Casali’s head, allowing Varsho to score easily. Two batters later, Hummel singled. As designated hitter Ketel Marte batted, Hummel stole second and advanced to third on Casali’s errant throw. Marte plated him with a ground-rule double to the right-field corner.

“I remember seeing (third base) vacant,” Varsho recounted after the game. “It’s kind of hard to whip your head around to see the catcher, but when I hit second, I knew he was halfway. So I took a chance on that one, and it worked out.” Varsho added, “It’s a hard play for any team to execute. It’s (similar to) a football play, where the catcher’s on the run and you have to hit him right in the chest. It’s a tough play to do, and I took advantage of it.”

It became a 4–3 ballgame in the top of the third. Third baseman Evan Longoria got the offense rolling with a one-out single. After Wade flied to left, consecutive singles by Mercedes and second baseman David Villar brought Longoria in. This was the first career RBI for Villar, who was making his major league debut.

Turning on the Jets

The Diamondbacks added two runs to their lead in the sixth off reliever Tyler Rogers. Kennedy beat out an infield grounder to open the frame. His 4.3-second sprint time to first was the fastest of the season by a Diamondback. “That’s pretty sick, to be honest with you,” Kennedy said upon hearing the news after the game. “We were leading by one at the time, so I was thinking to somehow, some way beat it out.” Rojas also said that he did not know Kennedy was that quick. “He beat out a routine ground ball right there. That was sick. It really got that inning going.”

His speed showed again with Rojas followed with a double to the left-field corner. It was a low liner that Longoria had a chance to catch, so Kennedy had to pause before running. Despite the delay, Kennedy scored standing up from first. “When I saw it hit,” Kennedy explained, “it was on the trail of going up. Longoria’s a pretty tall dude, so I took two steps, stopped, and thought, ‘Oh, okay.’ I knew Ruf was in the outfield. As I was running, I saw that he was going on an angle to the ball. I thought, ‘It’s getting past him.’ Once I saw that (finger snap), I turned on the jets and went right away. (The thought was), ‘You got to score,’ and when I scored, I thought, ‘Alright! I did my job.’” Rojas scored two hitters later on a single by Varsho, making the score 6–3.

Finishing the Job

The lead grew even wider in the bottom of the eighth off reliever Mauricio Llovera. Rojas singled with one out and advanced to second on a high chopper by catcher Carson Kelly. Kelly, who is not known for his speed, beat out the chopper for an infield single. A wild pitch moved them to second and third. This paid off when Varsho ultimately singled — his third hit of the game. With the infield drawn in, both runners scored easily. Varsho stole second but advanced no further, as Perdomo struck out and Luplow grounded to second. A 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth in a non-save situation by closer Mark Melancon finalized the score at 8–3.

Postgame Reflections

The Giants won 17 of the 19 games they played against the Diamondbacks in 2021. For the Diamondbacks to start their 2022 campaign against the Giants with a win was a positive for the team. “We look at the game each day in a different way and look at each year in a different way,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “Last year we made a lot of mistakes, and I think we learned from those mistakes, pressing on every single day. We know what happened last year; we’re not oblivious to that. Giants are a good ballclub. They were and still are. We got to play our game and do our thing. When I talk about making statements and doing things about preparation and focus and having a passion for the day, I think we did a great job today.”

The aggressive baserunning comes from the philosophy of “being uncommon and doing little things right,” Lovullo said. “We believe in that. You guys know me; you’ve been hearing my song and dance for a long time. Little things matter to me. They add up. We talked about going on the backfield in spring training. We’re grinding through (what) you’re seeing us execute today. It’s not just baserunning, but I want to highlight the baserunning. Going first to third, stealing bases, doing it at the right time and the right way in the right sequence, picking up the right keys. We work really hard at that.

“Dave McKay is in charge of our baserunning program. He works tirelessly with these players, instructing these players when and how to do things. And it plays out. It’s not just stolen bases — it’s getting down the line, taking the extra base, and we do a really good job of that. I’m proud of that.”

Madison Bumgarner

Bumgarner felt like his fastball was coming out pretty well in the bullpen, so it had extra life early in the game. He added that his command was “definitely” not as good as it’s been. “I keep trying to figure out if it’s something physical — just not making the pitches — or mental, trying to be too perfect with each one instead of going after guys and getting ahead. That’s probably what I’m leaning to, but I don’t know for sure. We’re definitely trying to rearrange that and fix it, because I’m not getting paid to go five innings every time.”

Facing his former team did not give him any extra motivation, but that’s because he’s always focused on winning. “I can always find some reason.” Bumgarner continued, “I don’t just go out there and not try as hard on a certain day. Sometimes it’s easier to find motivation, but I never have any trouble finding it. I would have liked to have thrown a little better myself, but all I care about — all I’ve ever wanted to do — is win. We won today, so I’ll take it.”

Bumgarner added that one of his motivations in this game was that he was “excited to pitch on the Fourth of July.” He added, “It’s a special day to me. I’m proud to be an American. I’d like to have Davies in the rotation, but when we had to cover his spot, I knew I’d be throwing on the Fourth. I was excited. It was awesome — special for me.”

Looking Ahead

Bumgarner (4–8) earned the win, while Rodon (7–5) took the loss. The Diamondbacks (36–44) and Giants (40–38) will play the second installment of their three-game series Tuesday evening. Tyler Gilbert (0–3, 7.88 ERA) and Alex Wood (5–7, 5.03 ERA) will start for the Giants and Diamondbacks, respectively, in a battle of lefties. First pitch will be at 6:40 pm Arizona Time.

Main Photo Credits:

PHOENIX, July 4 — Madison Bumgarner of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws a pitch in the top of the second inning against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks won, 8–3. (Photo by Evan Thompson)

Players/managers mentioned:

Daulton Varsho, Buddy Kennedy, Madison Bumgarner, Carlos Rodon, Wilmer Flores, Darin Ruf, Yermin Mercedes, Jordan Luplow, Cooper Hummel, Christian Walker, Josh Rojas, Carson Kelly, Geraldo Perdomo, Curt Casali, Ketel Marte, Evan Longoria, David Villar, Tyler Rogers, Mauricio Llovera, Mark Melancon, Torey Lovullo, Dave McKay, Tyler Gilbert, Alex Wood


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