Arizona Diamondbacks cling to second wild-card spot; Carroll sets record

PHOENIX – If you’re a club with playoff aspirations directly ahead, you would like to avoid as many pitfalls as possible. When the Arizona Diamondbacks, currently holding the second wild card spot in the National League opened their final road trip of the season in Yankee Stadium, one landmine to avoid was New York right-hander Gerrit Cole.

One of the leading candidates for the American League Cy Young award, Cole would have been a formidable roadblock to the Diamondbacks. Yet, the veteran righty pitched the previous Thursday night against Toronto and limited the Jays to two hits and one run in eight stellar innings. That brought his season mark to 14-4, a stubborn 2.75 ERA and 217 strikeouts.

Instead, the Diamondbacks drew Luke Weaver, a journeyman righty who spent four seasons with Arizona from 2019 to 2022. After selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round in 2014, the 30-year-old Weaver bounced around from St. Louis, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Seattle, Arizona, and now the Yankees.

While going against Weaver had to be better therapy than facing Cole, the result was as disappointing as unexpected. In going 5.1 strong innings, Weaver allowed no runs and gained a 7-1 victory. If the Diamondbacks had to contend with a former teammate, then Aaron Judge crashed the party with three homers, a 4-for-4 night and six of the seven New York RBIs.

Despite what manager Torey Lovullo described to MLB-TV after this one as “a clunker,” the Diamondbacks continue to hold the second wild card spot behind the Phillies.

“The clubhouse doesn’t seem to match the guys on the field,” observed pitcher Merrill Kelly after beating the Giants at home on Sept. 20. “One guy who has not been here that long said the guys in the clubhouse do not match the guys on the field. We have a bunch of nice guys in here but then when we get on the field, we mean business and we’re getting after people. It’s good we’re playing good baseball and we’re in a good spot.”

Through the final week, Lovullo hinted he will go with a four-man rotation. In that regard, right-hander Ryne Nelson (7-8, 5.53 ERA in 27 starts) was moved to the bullpen. Save for the top of the rotation in Zac Gallen, Brandon Pfaadt and Kelly, Lovullo will turn to veteran Zack Davies as the fourth starter.

These plans could be disrupted. That’s because of the rain-out in Yankee Stadium on Sept 23. The make-up game is slated for Monday Sept. 25. That was the original date of the start of a three-game series against the White Sox in Chicago.

Now, that series is pushed ahead one day to Tuesday night and Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Following the Thursday afternoon game, the Diamondbacks quickly return to Chase Field and complete their season with a three-game series against Houston.

In effect, that means the team will play the remaining eight days in succession and could compromise Lovullo’s plans for a consolidated rotation.

Carroll sets mark … at this point, it is a rather safe bet to put your money on Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll as the National League rookie-of-the-year. To date, his batting hovers in the low .280 and set a major league mark for 50 stolen bases and 25 home runs during his rookie season. He is the only player to accomplish that feat.

With this achievement, Carroll joins Cesar Cedeno (25 homers, 56 steals in 1973) as the only two players to attain these numbers in their age 22 season or younger.

“I’m proud of the record, and there’s a lot of work that went into it,” Carroll said. “At the same time, we need to talk about the team and this time of the year where we need to play well. The record is out the window at this point, and all that matters is winning.”

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