PHOENIX -- In a see-saw battle with the Royals, the D-backs showed once again what has quickly become their signature characteristic of the 2022 season: Resilience
Three times the Royals took the lead, and three times the D-backs came back. A five-run sixth put them ahead for good in the D-backs' 8-6 win over Kansas City on Tuesday night at Chase Field. The inning was punctuated by a two-out, pinch-hit three-run homer from Jordan Luplow and a two-run homer from Pavin Smith shortly after.
The D-backs actually had an early lead thanks to Daulton Varsho’s leadoff homer. His eighth homer of the year marked the first time a D-backs catcher hit a leadoff homer in franchise history. The lead was short-lived. however.
Starter Zac Gallen had an uncharacteristically shaky outing, laboring through 5 1/3 innings and allowing six runs on seven hits and two walks. Gallen did strike out four batters as his staff-leading ERA jumped to 2.22.
He jumped ahead of batters more often than not the first time through the order, but then nibbled to allow Royals hitters back during at-bats, and they made him pay. MJ Melendez tagged him for a two-run homer in the second on an 0-1 cutter. In the third Gallen got ahead 0-2 on both Whit Merrifield and Andrew Benintendi, only to allow a single and a double. Merrifield scored on a groundout by Bobby Witt Jr., giving the Royals a 3-2 lead at that point.
David Peralta hit a solo homer in the fourth to tie the game at 3, but Gallen failed to get out of the sixth inning, giving up a single and a walk before Melendez tagged him, again, this time with an RBI double. That was all for Gallen as manager Torey Lovullo brought in reliever Joe Mantiply. The reliable lefty gave up a two-run single to Dairon Blanco, however, putting Kansas City up, 6-3, before the D-backs' big bottom half of the frame.
From there the D-backs bullpen took over. Noé Ramirez and Ian Kennedy set up closer Mark Melancon by tossing scoreless innings. Melancon allowed a leadoff single, but then shut the door to preserve the victory with his 10th save of the year.
These types of comeback victories are becoming commonplace for the D-backs. Eleven of their 23 wins are comeback wins. Arizona is also 17-1 when leading after the 6th inning.
Despite being the one with the big blow today, Luplow praised his teammates after the game, saying, “These boys battle man. I mean, you guys see it every night. These guys battle, not giving away at-bats. … These guys, they don’t want to lose, they want to win, and I think that’s a big turnaround from last year.”
While expressing disappointment in his own outing, Gallen made it clear that he’s not surprised by the resilience the team has shown. “I’ve been saying even before the year started [that] we’re going to be an annoying team to play. We have a lot of guys in there that have something to prove, we have a lot of guys playing with chips on their shoulders.”
Lovullo echoed these sentiments: “Sometimes you’ve [got to] be a little resilient and bend a little without breaking and just say, 'We’re going to hang in there for right now, but we’re still coming.'”
Indeed they are. At 23-22 for the season, the D-backs are just 1.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot. While there’s a long way to go, the team is certainly playing like it has something to prove.