Widener, Varsho, patience key D-backs' win

August 23rd, 2021

DENVER -- They say that walks hurt you in baseball, and that goes double for a hitter-friendly ballpark like Coors Field.

On Sunday afternoon, both teams’ pitchers walked their fair share of hitters, but it only came back to bite the Rockies, as the D-backs salvaged a win in the three-game series, 8-4.

D-backs right-hander Taylor Widener issued five walks in five innings, but he came away with a victory after allowing only one run and one hit.

"I know I’ve mentioned it before, you can’t walk batters in this ballpark, you can’t put on extra baserunners," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "You have to put the ball on the plate and make them swing the bat to beat you. I think, at times, we dodged a couple of bullets when Taylor was pitching. He was able to get those big outs. He leaned on some stuff and got some big outs via the strikeout and got us back in the dugout."

It was a game filled with interesting statistics. Let's take a look at some:

Passing his dad
Catcher Daulton Varsho's three-run homer in the second inning got the D-backs' offense going, erasing a 1-0 deficit. It was the 11th home run of Varsho's young career, putting him one ahead of his dad, Gary, who played eight seasons in the big leagues.

"I didn’t even notice that one," Varsho said. "He’ll probably be pretty thrilled about it. He had some pretty good homers himself. Lucky enough to be able to do this up here and have some success."

Speaking of Varsho ...
In addition to the homer, Varsho drew a walk, doubled, tripled and had four RBIs, leaving him only a single away from hitting for the cycle.

It was the 12th time in franchise history that a player came within a single of hitting for the cycle. Varsho's only professional cycle came on Aug. 1, 2018, when he was on a rehab assignment in the then-Arizona Rookie League.

Walk this way
The D-backs matched a franchise record with five walks in the sixth inning against Rockies right-hander Jon Gray and a pair of relievers. Josh Rojas and Ketel Marte each drew bases-loaded walks to force in a pair of runs and push Arizona's lead to 5-1.

It was the second time this year the D-backs had a five-walk inning. They also had five walks in the seventh inning of a 14-11 win over the Reds on April 22. Prior to that, they had not had one since 2017.

One extreme or the other
Widener issued a two-out walk to Ryan McMahon with two outs in the third. That started a stretch of nine consecutive batters in which he either recorded a walk or strikeout.

"I wasn’t feeling very good out of the windup, and I thought about going strictly out of the stretch," Widener said. "I feel like the majority of the guys I walked today were out of the windup. I couldn’t seem to find my normal rhythm that I was having with it. Every time I got into the stretch, I felt a little more comfortable. I should have picked up on it a little bit sooner. Luckily, it ended up working out for me."

What a weird pitching line
Widener finished with a pitching line of: five innings, one hit, one earned run, five walks and five strikeouts.

It was only the third time this year that a pitcher has had a line that included five or more innings, one or fewer hits, five or more walks and five or more strikeouts.

The other two? The Braves' Tucker Davidson (June 3 vs. the Nationals) and the Angels' Shohei Ohtani (May 5 vs. the Rays).

Widener at the plate
Widener picked up his first big league hit when he grounded a single to left in the second. The knock came in his 16th Major League plate appearance.

"Honestly, it probably would have felt better if I was pitching a little bit better," Widener said. "I was a little frustrated with walking so many guys. I was happy to finally get it. It took long enough. I have a decent swing for a pitcher. I just hadn’t put the bat to the ball, really."