SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Mark Trumbo’s first series in an Arizona Diamondbacks’ uniform was filled with both moments of ecstasy and moments of despair.
Although the D-backs were swept Down Under in their two-game set with the reigning National League West champion Los Angeles Dodgers, the 6-foot-4 left fielder certainly earned his weight in gold at the plate. In fact, Trumbo was one of the, if not the only, offensive catalysts Arizona had during its brief Australian excursion.
In two games at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the D-backs managed to only score six runs — four of which were produced by their new right-handed slugger.
The 28-year-old, who was acquired in a three-team deal with the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels last December, drove in the D-backs’ lone run off of two-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw in Saturday’s 3-1 loss on a groundball to the right side that plated Paul Goldschmidt in the sixth inning.
He wasn’t done there.
Trumbo broke up Los Angeles’ shutout bid in the second game of the series with a sharp RBI single to right field in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Anahiem, Calif. native managed to outdo himself one frame later with a two-out, two-run blast to left field on a first-pitch fastball from Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.
For the series, Trumbo finished with two hits in nine at-bats to go along with a home run and four RBI.
“It’s the beginning of the season,” Trumbo said. “You want to get your first hit of the year out of the way. It’s the same feelings every year. But we were competing against two of the best pitchers in baseball. Kershaw has obviously established himself, and [Hyun-Jin] Ryu is a very, very quality guy too. We were battling, scraping, taking what we could get.
“I was really happy with first RBI I got against Kershaw, even though it wasn’t a hit. I stuck exactly with the approach I wanted and got the job done. And then there was the home run and the couple of other hits. That was the one, though, that I was probably proud of.”
At the plate, he looked as comfortable as can be. In the field, well, Trumbo was more like a fish out of water.
The first-year D-back made just his 74th and 75th career starts in left field, and did it ever show.
On Opening Night, Trumbo’s first on-the-job test came on a deep fly ball off the bat of Los Angeles outfielder Scott Van Slyke in the top of the second inning. Thinking that Van Slyke had gotten all of the Wade Miley offering, Trumbo climbed up on the makeshift fence and reached upward with his glove.
The run-saving snag never materialized, however, as the wind-deterred ball caromed off a lower portion of the wall at least five feet to his left. Van Slyke reached base on a stand-up double, and the Dodgers scored the contest’s first run later in the inning.
Six innings later a low, sinking line drive by Adrian Gonzalez appeared to get the best of Trumbo, as the ball slid underneath his glove turning either an out or base hit into another stand-up double.
“For the most part I was comfortable,” said Trumbo. “Obviously, there was a play [in the second inning] that got away from me. It was an instinct play. It was the best read I could do at the time. It happened. I think I was the guinea pig for that scenario. Had I seen Goldy’s get knocked down or Puig’s later, I would have played it differently. The day before the ball was carrying better and that’s what I judged it off of. Obviously, it didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped.”
That last line essentially sums up Arizona’s season-opening sweep in a nutshell, but the newest cog in its lineup cautioned that a pair of ugly losses to open the season doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on how the final 160 games will play out.
“I think to judge a book by one series is pretty premature,” said Trumbo. “We obviously didn’t do a lot of things well.
“I hate labeling things. I came from a team that was a perennial favorite every year. And I think that put a lot of undue pressure on us. It’s better to fly under the radar a little bit. The Dodgers have probably allowed us to do that a little bit. We have a great team. We play hard. And we’ll see how it adds up.”