CINCINNATI — The NL got a dominating new pitcher in the top of the sixth and began to claw back in the bottom half.
In the top of the sixth Jacob deGrom took over and, unlike Clayton Kershaw, had NO PROBLEM whatsoever. He was throwing straight nasty gas, striking out Steven Vogt on three pitches, Jason Kipnis on four pitches and Jose Iglesias on three. It was . . . impressive, to say the least.
Andrew McCutchen led off the bottom of the sixth and, on the first pitch from Chris Archer, launched a long homer to left field, bringing it to 3-2, National League. Archer was allowed to pitch to one more batter, retiring Todd Frazier, after which he was pulled for Zach Britton. Britton struck out Bryce Harper for out number two but then struggled a bit to close out the inning, allowing Paul Goldschmidt to reach when he fielded a ball and misfired, pulling Mark Texieria off the bag. Then Yadier Molina singled. Britton escaped, however, getting Troy Tulowitzki on a 4-6 grounder.
It’s the time of the game where the American League is out of its marquee pitchers and into its relatively anonymous relievers which Ned Yost chose, presumably to make this more like a real game. We’ll soon see if that pays off and if the AL can hold on.
With just over a week left in the regular season, the Diamondbacks have elected to shut down infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte. Marte has been dealing with some lower back inflammation and stiffness over the last few days; on Friday, the team revealed that he was diagnosed with a stress reaction as well.
It doesn’t look as though the injury will compromise Marte’s 2020 campaign, but as Craig noted on Wednesday, his absence will likely have some effect on his NL MVP candidacy. The 25-year-old will wrap his first All-Star season with a .329/.389/.592 batting line, 32 home runs, a .981 OPS, and a staggering, career-best 7.1 fWAR through 628 plate appearances.
Marte told reporters Thursday that the back pain had been an issue “for the past two months,” though he didn’t comment on the severity of the injury. Despite his ability to play through the pain since July, the issue has clearly escalated in the last week or so. Although the loss of their most valuable contributor may have a negative impact on the D-backs’ chances of competing in the postseason, it’s undeniably a wise move to let Marte recuperate rather than pushing him to play for another week and running the risk of further injury.
Entering Friday’s series against the Padres — their last road series of the regular season — Arizona still has a sizable gap to close in order to earn one of two NL wild card spots. They’re five games out of postseason contention, with the Nationals, Brewers, Cubs, Mets, and Phillies ahead of them.