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Sedona Red Recap: D-backs come up short in Banda’s debut

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Anthony Banda wipes his face prior to being taken out during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Saturday, July 22, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — With a hole in their starting rotation, the Arizona Diamondbacks turned to their No. 1 rookie prospect — as named by Baseball America and MLB.com — Anthony Banda for his first MLB start.

Although he battled valiantly in his debut, it wasn’t enough as the D-backs came close but fell short to the Nationals in game two of this series by a count of 4-3.

This season with the Triple-A Reno Aces, Banda (which does NOT rhyme with panda) has a 7-5 record in 18 starts with a 5.08 ERA and 93 strikeouts. Three of his last four appearances were quality starts for Reno with 17 strikeouts and just three walks.

Banda was confident in his delivery early on. He struck out the first batter he faced in Brian Goodwin and made quick work of Chris Heisey, but then his inexperience showed in his aggressive pursuit of striking out Bryce Harper that turned into a solo shot home run in the top of the first.

Banda continued to attack the zone when Harper was at the plate, which would come back to bite him again in the sixth inning when he gave up the go-ahead run on a Harper double. He subsequently scored on a Ryan Zimmerman double to put the Nationals up by a score of 4-1.

Banda went 5.2 innings, allowing seven hits and four earned runs. He struck out five and walked one in a strong debut.

Starting pitcher Tanner Roark for the Nationals was lights out after giving up a RBI double to Chris Iannetta in the first inning that scored A.J. Pollock.

Outside of Pollock later scoring on a triple in the sixth inning, Roark gave the D-backs fits at the plate all night, striking out 11 in seven innings of work. He gave up two earned runs on three hits and walked one batter he faced.

The D-backs will look to bounce back and win the series in game three on Sunday.

THE GOOD

– With his RBI double tonight, Iannetta has 17 extra base hits in his last 23 games.

– Double down. The D-backs have 18 doubles in their last five games, and Brandon Drury is now fifth in the National League with 24 doubles.

– Relief from the relievers. J.J. Hoover has a 15-game scoreless streak at Chase Field, and Andrew Chafin has now held opponents scoreless in 20 of his last 22 appearances.

THE BAD

– The D-backs 4-9 hitters were ineffective once again, going just 2-for-19 on the night with seven strikeouts. On the bright side, they also had two doubles and a RBI.

– The decision to have a young pitcher attack the zone for a superstar such as Harper did not payoff. Harper went 2-3 for two RBI, a double, and a home run. The approach to pitch around Harper in game one seemed to be much more effective.

– Over the last two games against the D-backs, Washington’s starting pitchers have struck out 20 batters faced.

STAT OF THE GAME

0-for-4: D-backs were once again unable to capitalize on runners in scoring position, going 0-for-4 on the night.

HE SAID IT

Torey Lovullo on Banda’s debut: “I liked everything that he gave us today. I remember the mound presence, the poise, the downhill fastball, the change up off the fast ball, the breaking ball from spring training, and it seems like he was doing everything he could possibly do to get better for this moment. The fastball has been up to 97-98 in the minor leagues, so we were aware of the fact that it was an aggressive pitch…but I think there’s effectiveness with that pitch but there’s also being able to compliment that pitch, and he did a good job of that tonight.”

NOTED

– Banda is the ninth starting pitcher the D-backs have used this season.

– The D-backs have won 9 of their last 11 games in their starters’ debuts, and they are 11-3 in their last 14 games with a starting pitcher debut.

– Paul Goldschmidt had a rare night off with Daniel Descalso getting the start at first, but he did have a sac fly RBI in a pinch hit appearance in the bottom of the ninth.

– Harper’s home run off of Banda in the first inning extends his career-high hitting streak to 15 games.

– The roof was closed for this midsummer matchup, with an outdoor temp of 103 degrees and indoor temp of 80.

– Lovullo mentioned after the game that Banda is being sent back down to Reno to make room for the returning Taijuan Walker.

UP NEXT

The D-backs look to win their season series finale with the Nationals in game three on Sunday when Robbie Ray takes on Stephen Strasburg. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 40 minutes earlier on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station.

Ray is 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his last four starts at home and is coming off of his first All-Star game nomination. Ray has only pitched one time in his career against the Nationals on Aug. 2, 2016. He allowed five earned runs in 6.0 IP in a 10-4 loss to tonight’s starter for Washington, Roark.

Strasburg is 10-3 in 19 starts this season with a 3.31 ERA and 139 strikeouts. He has a 4-2 record in eight career starts against Arizona with a 3.28 ERA and 40 strikeouts. He bounced back nicely in his last start against Cincinnati after only lasting three innings in a 13-0 loss to the Braves on July 8th.

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