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Torey Lovullo’s Strategy Behind Pavin Smith’s Game-Changing Hit

May 15, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Pavin Smith (26) hits a double in the eighth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the bottom of the 8th inning in a tied game with the series hanging in the balance, Diamondbacks’ manager Torey Lovullo opted to substitute Pavin Smith for Randal Grichuk as a pinch hitter.

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Smith, a former 1st round pick of the Diamondbacks, came through with his second clutch hit of the series, smashing a double into right field on a 3-1 count, advancing a runner into scoring position for Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Gurriel Jr. ended his three-game hitless streak with a well-placed high popup down the right field line, driving in Corbin Carroll (Smith’s pinch runner), ultimately securing the Diamondbacks a 2-1 victory after Paul Sewald closed the door in the 9th inning.

Before this game, Smith had struggled at the plate, going 7-30 for the season with a .233 batting average. Last year was even tougher for him, managing just a .188 batting average during his limited time in the majors.

Explaining his decision to choose Smith over Corbin Carroll, who was resting that day, Lovullo said, “I was trying to give Corbin a fresh day just to get him off his feet. I talked about the menu with him and I said, Ill pinch run you, Ill defensive replace you, but I just want to give you a day from having to prepare yourself any other way.”

He added, “Pavin can hit. I like the matchup in that situation. I was saving Joc down for the DH spot, I didn’t want to hit Joc and have him come off the field as that bats to valuable. I felt like they had a couple of lefties that were going to come in the game, and if I had to keep somebody there, I wanted Joc to be able to go left-on-left, I felt like he was going to give us the best chance.”

In hindsight, the plan worked perfectly as Smith delivered the crucial hit, and Carroll raced home for the winning run. Lovullo didn’t have to use either Carroll or Pederson for an at-bat.

Lovullo emphasized his decision not to send Carroll to bat, as the 2023 NL Rookie of the Year has been struggling lately, with only two hits in his last 20 plate appearances, lowering his season batting average to .193.

Before this game, Carroll hadn’t had a day off since May 6th, but after his last rest, he went 2-5 at the plate and drove in 5 runs.

The Diamondbacks will return to action on Friday at 6:40 PM for a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers, concluding their current six-game homestand. Last year, the D-backs swept Detroit on the road.

 

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