Kirk Gibson and Co. had a rather tough week, going 1-5 against the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres. But one group in particular had its fair share of struggles.
The D-backs bullpen blew two more saves to add on to their league-leading 10 and surrendered 11 earned runs in the seventh inning or later.
It was bad. How bad? Arizona Sports alone had nine articles this week on the bullpen — an awfully high number considering the unit makes up less than a quarter of the team’s total payroll.
So to flush away what we hope was just a week to forget and not a sign of things to come, here’s a look back at the bullpen’s highs and lows over the past seven days.
4/29: Giants beat D-backs 6-4
Brad Ziegler is typically a ground ball specialist, but in relief of Ian Kennedy he was anything but.
After giving up a leadoff double to Nick Noonan to start the eighth, Ziegler settled down to get the next two Giants’ batters. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off from there.
Ziegler walked the next two hitters — Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford — and then surrendered the go-ahead, two-run single to Brandon Belt.
Sadly, Belt was just getting started.
4/30: Giants beat D-backs 2-1
Trevor Cahill pitched his best ballgame of the season, going eight strong while striking out five.
With a one-run lead, Kirk Gibson let Cahill bat in the eighth with the hopes he’d finish off his complete-game shutout in the ninth.
But Cahill gave up a leadoff single to Angel Pagan and was promptly taken out after throwing just 88 pitches.
J.J. Putz struck out Marco Scutaro to begin his appearance, but then proceeded to give away the game with one mistake pitch to Pablo Sandoval. Putz hung a splitter over the heart of the plate, and the Giants third baseman sent it back 439 feet over the right field wall for a game-winning, two-run shot.
5/1: Giants beat D-backs 9-6
New month, same result for the bullpen.
Brandon McCarthy didn’t pitch extraordinary (four earned runs on eight hits) over his six innings of work, but he pitched well enough to win. Unfortunately for the first-year D-back it wasn’t meant to be.
After Matt Reynolds struck out the side in the seventh, David Hernandez quickly got into trouble in the eighth.
Sandwiched between a Buster Posey pop-up and a Nick Noonan strikeout, Hernandez walked Hunter Pence and Gregor Blanco. With two outs, he tried to get a fastball by Brandon Belt but it got way too much of the plate.
Belt hit a three-run no-doubter over the right field wall, and the Giants would tack on two more insurance runs off Heath Bell in the ninth inning.
5/3: Padres beat D-backs 7-6
A day of rest didn’t seem to do much good for the D-backs’ bullpen.
Matt Reynolds once again pitched a perfect inning of relief, and while the D-backs were behind 4-3 entering the seventh, Josh Collmenter and Brad Ziegler didn’t do the team any favors.
The duo combined to give up three runs on five hits in the seventh and eight innings, and although Gerardo Parra hit a three-run home run in the ninth it was already too late.
5/4: D-backs beat Padres 8-1
Even on a night Patrick Corbin did all he could to make the bullpen’s job as easy as possible, Tony Sipp had other ideas.
The left-hander in just 1/3 of an inning created a bases-loaded mess for Heath Bell by giving up one hit and two walks. The three-time All-Star managed to induce an inning-ending double play ball off the bat of Jedd Gyorko and went on to pitch a scoreless ninth.
It was the pen’s first scoreless game of the week.
5/5: Padres beat D-backs 5-1
Ian Kennedy (five runs in 5 2/3 innings) had already put the D-backs in a hole during their series finale against the Padres, but Arizona’s bullpen (Matt Reynolds, Josh Collmenter and David Hernandez) did a nice job of limiting the damage.
For the second consecutive contest, D-backs relievers didn’t allow a run — a good sign considering their previous four-game span.
Final Line: 13 1/3 innings pitched, 12 runs (11 earned), 13 hits and two blown saves