PHOENIX. Speaking of first-inning body language, Friday’s starting pitchers had a good idea of how the Diamondbacks’ 7-2 win over the Twins would play out.
Madison Bumgarner watched Byron Buxton’s ball land 10 rows into the left seats and seemed to shrug, expecting another baseball. Devin Smeltzer watched Jordan Laplow’s first response, a double shot that put Arizona ahead, and was angry at himself for the fastball in the middle that made it possible.
“I just got baseball today,” Smeltzer said after giving up a career-high seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. “Honestly, I thought my stuff was the best there was… Except [Luplow, who homered twice]There was no big hit.”
By contrast, the Twins hit the entire Chase Field diamond, starting with Buxton hitting the game’s second innings in the seats, and including a pair of ground rule doubles that went over the wall on the rebound. Buxton had four of the five hardest hits in the game, but only went 2 of 4, according to Statcast. And the Twins put 10 runners on base during Bumgarner’s first five innings.
But the seasoned southpaw, a three-time World Series champion who hadn’t won a start for over a month, appeared to be unimpressed, allowing only one runner to score behind lead Buxton Homer and leaving seven runners in scoring position.
“We couldn’t have hit the ball better,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “But I don’t think there is anything that [Bumgarner] didn’t see the mound and he knows what to do and he knows how to get through everything. And he figured it out today.”
Smeltzer, who has played just a month in the majors this season but won three straight decisions, was thrilled from the start, allowing hits in each of the five innings he pitched and running in four of them. Smeltzer conceded two home runs to a recession-weary Luplow, fielded his head and threw it into right field to allow two more, and made up for his first loss since Aug. 9, 2019, 19 games and nine starts back.
“He didn’t like the way he threw the ball, so he probably showed a little more frustration. But he’s a guy who can show a bit of emotion on the hill, handle it, refocus and get out there normally. and get out,” said Baldelli. “It seemed to me that in the game where Smelts throws the ball, everything was a little unraveled. A difficult way to let go of the situation and come back.”
However, it was not only Smeltzer. Gio Urshela dropped a ground ball, leading to another run in the fifth inning. Smeltzer, José Miranda, and Gary Sanchez gathered in front of the Twins’ dugout in pursuit of a pop-up, but all three missed it. Miranda stuck her head out too far from first base to get there in time, and Smeltzer didn’t close the bag fast enough.
“Just playing baseball smarter and being clean in the infield is always something we’re proud of this year,” Baldelli said. “We’ve done a good job, but it’s not [game] we would point to that as an example.”