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HomeSportMarte, Grichuk push Diamondbacks past Cubs with clutch moments

Marte, Grichuk push Diamondbacks past Cubs with clutch moments

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Ketel Marte, down to his team’s final out, shot a line drive that had just enough height to clear the fence and tie Tuesday’s game 11-11 in the bottom of the ninth inning against Chicago Cubs closer Adbert Alzolay.

Pinch hitter Randal Grichuk smoked a gapper in the 10th inning to walk off the Cubs (10-7) and give the D-backs (9-9) a thrilling 12-11 victory at Chase Field that left manager Torey Lovullo emotionally drained.

Lovullo had mixed feelings postgame, clearly wanting to see his team play sharper after a season-high in runs allowed while celebrating Arizona’s first walk-off win. Tuesday’s triumph came after an 11-inning defeat on Monday, a game that slipped away.

“That was a great game to win, despite doing some things not up to our standard,” Lovullo said. “I think we rallied at the right times, did enough to to get back into the game.

“The things we didn’t do well, I don’t want to really talk about those. We’re gonna take care of those internally. But there were a number of things … We’re gonna to handle that and coach everybody up. Today I want to focus on things we did well: (24) base runners, 10 walks, 12 hits is how we won a baseball game by one run.”

The D-backs led 4-1, trailed 5-4, led 8-5, trailed 11-8 and pulled through late. The win probabilities looked like someone fibbed on a lie-detector test.

The Diamondbacks — in large part thanks to 10 walks and two wild pitches — amazingly scored a dozen runs while finishing 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and leaving 12 men on base.

Blaze Alexander hit an RBI single during a four-run fifth inning for the D-backs, and that was the only hit with RISP until Grichuk smoked the game-winning double off Cubs lefty Drew Smyly — whom he was 4-for-7 with three extra-base hits against coming in.

Grichuk did on the second pitch he saw what he was signed this offseason to do, crush southpaws, and the game’s end felt swift in contrast to the long innings that built out this 3.5-hour game.

“Be aggressive, find a pitch out over the plate and try to put a good swing on it,” Grichuk said after his seventh career walk-off hit. “I had a chance to drive a ball in the gap, drive the ball over the fence. Lefty-righty matchup there favors me.”

The Diamondbacks had the right guy up with the game on the line in Marte, who had three hits already on the night and has continued to produce from last postseason to spring training to the start of 2024 (.895 OPS).

He did not think his ball was getting out, although he flexed and joked in English how strong he was for that. The ball was crushed 111 mph off the bat but with a launch angle of just 17 degrees. It just kept going.

“The intention should not change depending on the score,” Marte said via Spanish interpreter Rolando Valles. “Regardless the situation, the games have to be played the same way, it’s not over until the last out is made.”

Arizona scored in each of the final four innings played.

Early on, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Joc Pederson went yard in the third inning, Pederson’s first dinger as a Diamondback and Gurriel’s fifth of the season (his 20 RBIs are tied for second in MLB).

Castro and McGough step up

In an otherwise disastrous day for Diamondbacks pitching, relievers Scott McGough and Miguel Castro were stellar.

Starter Tommy Henry was chased after allowing five hits in six batters during the fifth inning, and McGough inherited a runner on third with one out. He not only stranded the runner but executed another scoreless inning on top of it. Castro came in with the team down 11-8 in the seventh inning and recorded seven outs with no earned runs as the offense chipped away.

Despite the two veterans’ ups and downs to start the year, Lovullo said his club would not have won without them on Tuesday.

“McGough I thought was fantastic, and the reason we won this this game is because of Miguel Castro, hands down,” Lovullo said. “We were up against it a little bit. I was projecting to be ahead and we were going to use certain relievers. We were a little short in the bullpen because of certain usage.”

Kevin Ginkel also bounced back from a blown save in Monday’s loss by escaping the 10th inning unscathed.

Clear bumps on Wednesday included Henry’s fifth inning in which Lovullo said his starter did not show great command. Henry allowed one run through four frames before it went off the rails in a critical start for him. Jordan Montgomery is going to enter the rotation shortly, and he and Ryne Nelson are competing to stick.

There were some lowlights defensively, too, such as Gurriel misplaying a ball in the corner that led to a triple. Luis Frias and Kyle Nelson did not have their best days out of the bullpen, combining for six earned runs in the seventh inning.

Chicago’s Ian Happ hit a grand slam off Nelson to take the 11-8 lead with two outs.

The Diamondbacks’ bullpen is taxed after two straight days of free baseball, and Lovullo said roster moves are coming to bring in reinforcements.

“I am emotionally exhausted, I’m frustrated, I’m mad,” Lovullo said. “We got to start tightening some things up around here. We’ll take care of that internally. … It was tough. That’s why I’m proud of these guys for fighting. They were emotionally spent too.”

Grichuk said it was cool to see the Diamondbacks show their Answerbacks reputation, a team coming together after the extra-innings loss on Monday. Lovullo called it a push win that gets groups through the quick turnarounds in a season.

Wednesday’s series finale will be a pitching matchup of D-backs right-hander Brandon Pfaadt and Cubs southpaw Jordan Wicks. The Diamondbacks hit the road for 10 games to follow.

First pitch is at 12:40 p.m. on 98.7. 

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