PHOENIX — Even with a strong showing Friday, a short outing from Diamondbacks starting pitcher Robbie Ray was not ideal to begin the second half of 2015.
It was hardly a domino effect. After all, Ray’s inefficiency didn’t cause the D-backs to go extra innings, nor did it lead them to make too many mistakes in a 12-inning, 6-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Ray lasted just five innings because of a pitch-count that reached 99. Despite allowing eight hits and two runs, he earned timely outs and didn’t let any of San Francisco’s success snowball on him. He threw 72 strikes — his inefficiency went back to the Giants fouling off too many pitches — and left the game with Arizona holding a 4-2 lead.
Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, the results of Ray’s early exit lingered late into the night — even if his performance was hardly the cause.
Mistakes, including a errant throw by shortstop Cliff Pennington in the 12th inning that allowed the Giants game-winning run, doomed Arizona. Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford singled to begin the 12th, and an out and walk later, Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco’s 10th pitcher of the night, bunted past Randall Delgado to load the bases. Then, Pennington fielded an Angel Pagan infield hit and bounced a potential force-out past catcher Welington Castillo at home plate, giving the Giants a 6-5 lead that would hold.
Afterward D-backs manager Chip Hale found disappointment in it all: The miscue when third baseman Jake Lamb retreated to third assuming Delgado would field the bunt, Pennington’s throw and bad base-running in two key situations.
It was an evening of easy opportunities for Paul Goldschmidt and unsurprisingly, he took advantage. Lead-off man A.J. Pollock and two-hole hitter David Peralta found themselves on the corners to begin the game with no outs nonetheless, setting up Goldschmidt for an RBI sac-fly that put Arizona ahead, 1-0. The first two in the order struck again in the third inning to put the D-backs ahead 3-1 when Pollock knocked a double off the left field wall. Peralta then dropped an RBI triple in deep left-center, and Goldschmidt would again slap an RBI sac-fly, giving Arizona a 3-1 lead.
An underwhelming offensive first half of the season by D-backs second baseman Chris Owings got a positive reset to begin the post-All-Star stretch. The second baseman started the post-All-Star break on the right foot by singling, and his night would only get better. With the Diamondbacks leading 3-1, the second baseman launched a first-pitch solo home run — his third of the year — into left field to begin the fourth inning. Heading into the break, Owings had recorded only one hit in his last 18 at-bats. Over the full season he was batting .227 while striking out 27 percent of the time, an alarming rate that might be traced back to a tweaked follow-through on his swing following shoulder surgery.
Closer Brad Ziegler was needed for two full innings of the extended game, but improved a hitless streak with runners in scoring position. Batters are 0-for-18 against Ziegler in his last 12 relief appearances with runners threatening.
Following a successful inning of relief from D-backs pitcher Andrew Chafin, it was Enrique Burgos who struggled with command in the seventh frame. San Francisco plated a run on a Buster Posey sac-fly that cut the Arizona lead to 5-3 before Hunter Pence hit a two-run home run to right field, tying the game. That set up the extended innings to begin the second half of the year with a less-than-fresh bullpen moving forward.
Here was perhaps the biggest missed opportunities by Arizona. After San Francisco tied the game, 5-5, at the top of the seventh, Goldschmidt was up to bat with no outs and Peralta at third after a lead-off triple. This time however, the Giants walked Goldschmidt and eventually got out of the inning unscathed. A hit up the middle by Yasmany Tomas found its way into the hands of Crawford, who spied Peralta far off third and got the fielder’s choice out when Peralta ran off the basepath attempting to avoid a tag. The Giants not only got out of immediate danger; though Goldschmidt and Tomas later advanced to scoring position on a wild pitch, they were stranded.
Jump to the fifth inning, when Posey lined a ball to Tomas in right field with runners on first and second. Tomas gunned a throw to home, holding the runner at third and loading the bases for the Giants via three two-out singles. But on a 2-2 count to Pence, Ray bounced a pitch off the dirt and behind Castillo to pull San Francisco within 4-2 before Pence struck out against Ray’s slider on the next pitch — that set a career-high eight strikeouts.
STAT OF THE GAME
8 – Ray set a career-high with eight strikeouts in just five innings. Two batters swung at fastballs, two took fastballs looking and four whiffed on sliders.
HE SAID IT
“They just had four days off,” Hale said afterward. “That’s no excuse. Played very poor fundamentally, base-running, defense — made too many mistakes. Executing in hitting situations and then (getting picked off) on third. Just did a poor job.
“It’s four in a row now, we’re a better team than that. We had a three-run lead, couldn’t hold that. It’s just not good. Even the last inning, to get doubled-off like that, a guy (Tomas) hits a ground ball to second, (Goldschmidt) can’t get tagged (heading to second). Just too many mistakes.”
– Arizona’s 14 hits extended a Chase Field streak of 10 or more hits to eight games, the longest such stretch in the majors this season.
– With two triples on the evening, Peralta moved into the NL lead with eight triples on the season. He is the fifth D-back to record two triples in a game and has done so twice.
– Outfielder Ender Inciarte pinch-hit in the eighth, making his first appearance since suffering a hamstring strain on June 15.
– First overall 2015 pick Dansby Swanson signed with Arizona with minutes to spare before the deadline Friday, and in a conference call the former Vanderbilt shortstop said he will arrive in Arizona on Sunday.
He’ll spend a week getting back into the swing of things in Arizona before joining Class A Visalia for the season.
– Jeremy Hellickson (blister) is expected to pitch Tuesday, but Chip Hale said the starter isn’t 100 percent certain to give it a go.
– The game lasting 5:11 was the fifth-longest game in Diamondbacks history.
Chase Anderson takes the mound for the Diamondbacks hoping to crawl out of a funk. Manager Chip Hale said resting Anderson during the All-Star break was a major concern considering the right-hander had given up seven earned runs in his last 10.1 innings pitched.
Anderson (4-3, 3.91) had begun the season as one of the best pitchers in the majors at keeping balls in the park, but he allowed nine of his 12 homers on the year in his most recent four starts.
First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s pregame show begins at 4:30 p.m.