D-backs’ Christian Walker boots grounder, ends record fielding run for both teams at World Series

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona’s diamond full of slick fielders anchored one of baseball’s best defensive teams during the regular season.

The sterling defense continued through the postseason, sending the Diamondbacks into the World Series for the first time in 22 years.

An inopportune fumble in the Fall Classic has pushed them to the brink of elimination.

Gold Glove first baseman Christian Walker ended a record run of perfect fielding at the World Series in the third inning of Game 4, opening the door for a second straight five-run inning by the Texas Rangers.

The gaffe, along with a wild pitch in the second inning, led to a 10-run deficit for the Diamondbacks that turned into an 11-7 loss Tuesday night. Instead of evening the best-of-seven series, Arizona now trails Texas 3-1 going into Game 5 on Wednesday night.

“This was nothing that we saw coming,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “We’ve had guys that have been throwing the ball extremely well, picking up the baseball on defense. It all came unraveled on us there in a matter of two innings — and it’s 10 runs.”

Arizona had five errors in 12 games against Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Philadelphia to open the playoffs. It was even better to start the Fall Classic.

The Rangers and Diamondbacks combined for three errorless games to start this year’s World Series, the first time that’s happened. The teams also committed the fewest errors in the big leagues during the regular season — the D-backs with 56, the Rangers 57.

Arizona’s Game 4 trouble started in the second inning, when Luis Frias uncorked a two-out, two-strike wild pitch that scored Josh Jung. Texas scored four more runs in the inning, capped by Corey Seager’s third two-run homer of the World Series.

“I think that those are propellers into big innings, like the next one,” said Texas second baseman Marcus Semien, who homered and had five RBIs in Game 4. “You get a good, two-out rally going, next inning we came out, put five more up. That’s what changed the entire game.”

In the third inning, Walker ranged slightly to his backhand to field a grounder off the bat of Jonah Heim on a potential double play. A first-time Gold Glove winner last season, he mishandled the transfer to his throwing hand as he wheeled toward second and was charged with an error.

The Rangers scored five runs in the inning, punctuated by Semien’s three-run homer that put them up 10-0.

“I’ll be accountable, I should have made the play, should have at least got one,” Walker said. “I just went for the transfer and couldn’t get a grip on the ball. It happens.”

Texas is the first team in World Series history to score at least five runs in consecutive innings. The Rangers also became the first team to score at least five runs with two outs in consecutive innings since Milwaukee accomplished the feat against Montreal in a 1999 regular-season game, according to STATS.

The two big innings, sparked by two-out mistakes, has put the Diamondbacks in the difficult position of needing to win three straight games — two in Texas — to win their second World Series title.


AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

John Marshall, The Associated Press