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Christian Walker’s slam helps DBacks snap losing streak

NEW YORK — Diamondbacks right fielder Randal Grichuk played the liner off the wall on one hop, spun and fired a strike to second base. Francisco Lindor was out easily. Instead of a double to open the bottom of the first inning on Saturday afternoon, the Diamondbacks had out No. 1. They also had a play that set the tone for the day.

The Diamondbacks turned in their best game of baseball in a week, shutting down the New York Mets in a 10-5 win at Citi Field and stopping a five-game losing streak in the process.

Christian Walker took the biggest swing of the game, launching a grand slam to left field in the third inning. Right-hander Slade Cecconi threw 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball and the bullpen pieced together the rest. The win gives the Diamondbacks a chance to end what has been an ugly road trip on a positive note. A win on Sunday would mean a four-game split.

But the day could have turned out differently had it not been for Grichuk’s play in the first. Not only did Lindor narrowly missed a home run — his drive hit off the top of the wall — but he might have scored one batter later when Pete Alonso followed with a double to left.

“Man, that was sick,” Cecconi said. “You talk about just a load off your shoulders. Lindor smokes a double off the wall. I’m thinking it’s a homer. Next thing you know he’s not even sliding into second because he’s out by so much. That’s (Grichuk) picking me up. That was huge.”

Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Kevin Ginkel (37) reacts as catcher Gabriel Moreno (14) checks on him after he was hit by a comebacker by New York Mets left fielder Brandon Nimmo (not pictured) during the sixth inning at Citi Field in New York City on Saturday, June 1, 2024.
Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Kevin Ginkel (37) reacts as catcher Gabriel Moreno (14) checks on him after he was hit by a comebacker by New York Mets left fielder Brandon Nimmo (not pictured) during the sixth inning at Citi Field in New York City on Saturday, June 1, 2024.

The Diamondbacks had a scare in the sixth when reliever Kevin Ginkel was struck on the inside of the left knee by a Brandon Nimmo line drive and immediately went to the ground in pain. He left the game, walking off on his own, and X-rays came back negative. He is considered day-to-day with a contusion.

“I’m good, just kind of initial shock of just getting hit,” Ginkel said. “Ice and recover for a day or so and hopefully it should be fine.”

Manager Torey Lovullo said Ginkel’s first question while lying on the ground near the mound was about whether they got the out at first, which they did when catcher Gabriel Moreno picked up the deflection and threw Nimmo out at first.

“That’s how focused he was on having a good outcome,” Lovullo said.

The game was scoreless in the third when the Diamondbacks’ offense went to work. Jake McCarthy led off by lining a single to right. Kevin Newman walked, as did Grichuk with two outs to load the bases. That brought Walker to the plate.

Mets lefty Sean Manaea tried to get ahead with a first-pitch breaking ball, but the pitch floated down the middle and Walker was all over it, lifting it out to left for his second home run in as many days and the second grand slam of his career.

The Diamondbacks continued to add to their lead throughout the afternoon, scoring two runs apiece in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Walker saw the day as a continuation of their offensive outburst from the night before, when the Diamondbacks scored nine runs in a losing effort, including four in the ninth inning.

“We did some good things finishing off the game yesterday and definitely wanted to acknowledge that and channel that,” Walker said. “We talked about it in the hitters’ meeting. You put up a bunch of runs off a bullpen, there’s something there. We just tried to repeat that and get back out to a good lead.”

Cecconi rejoined the Diamondbacks a day earlier, taking the place of the injured Zac Gallen, and the club opted to immediately give him the ball, a move Lovullo said had to do with preferring to have a right-hander face the Mets lineup rather than lefty Blake Walston, whom they pushed to Tuesday against the Giants.

Cecconi turned in a strong start, with the only run he allowed coming on Mark Vientos’ solo shot in the fifth. He struck out four and did not issue a walk.

It felt like the first time in ages the Diamondbacks managed to play a well-rounded game. They came up with timely hits. They stole four bases. They made pitches when they were needed, holding the Mets hitless in seven at-bats with a runner in scoring position. And they made all the plays on defense, starting with Grichuk’s.

The Mets scored four times in the bottom of the ninth, prompting the Diamondbacks to call upon closer Paul Sewald, who got J.D. Martinez to fly to center for the final out of the game.

Short hop

Outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was scratched from Saturday’s lineup due to illness. Manager Torey Lovullo described it as flu-like symptoms, saying Gurriel would be a game-time decision as to whether he would be available off the bench. It is unclear if he will be ready to return to the lineup on Sunday.

Sunday’s Diamondbacks-Mets pitching matchup

Diamondbacks at Mets, 10:40 a.m., Cox, Ch. 34

Diamondbacks RHP Brandon Pfaadt (2-4, 4.16) vs. Mets LHP Jose Quintana (1-5, 5.06).

At Citi Field: Pfaadt served up a three-run homer to SS Corey Seager but was otherwise good in his outing last week against the Rangers, holding them to four runs in seven innings. He has worked at least six innings in six consecutive starts and eight of his past nine. … He has held right-handed hitters to a .173/.211/.284 line while lefties have given him trouble, hitting .290/.329/.466. … Pfaadt has never faced the Mets. … Quintana has given up three runs in six innings in each of his past two starts, most recently against the Dodgers. … Quintana has a 7.53 ERA in six career starts against the Diamondbacks, though he pitched competitively against them last year, giving up two runs in five innings in a start in September. … 3B Eugenio Suarez (8 for 25, one homer), SS Kevin Newman (10 for 21) and OF Randal Grichuk (4 for 16, two doubles, one homer) have strong numbers off Quintana in their careers.

Coming up

Monday: At Chase Field, 6:40 p.m., Diamondbacks RHP Ryne Nelson (3-4, 6.02) vs. Giants TBA.

Tuesday: At Chase Field, 6:40 p.m., Diamondbacks LHP Blake Walston (0-0, 2.16) vs. Giants LHP Kyle Harrison (4-2, 4.15).

Wednesday: At Chase Field, 12:40 p.m., Diamondbacks LHP Jordan Montgomery (3-3, 5.48) vs. Giants RHP Jordan Hicks (4-2, 2.70).

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Diamondbacks earn big win over New York Mets