PHOENIX — Right-hander Josh Collmenter was supposed to be just what the doctor ordered for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ ailing rotation.
Not quite a savior, but a skid stopper nonetheless.
Well, 561 days removed from his last start, Collmenter — who took Randall Delgado’s turn in the rotation — appeared to be neither of those things.
Normally an efficient, innings eater out of the bullpen as the team’s long man, Collmenter was far from it on the bump Monday night.
The visiting New York Mets, who hadn’t scored a single run the last two times they faced Collmenter, plated one off of him in the second on an RBI groundout by Ruben Tejada and two in the third on an RBI groundout and single respectively from David Wright and Lucas Duda.
“Not good enough,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said when asked how he thought Collmenter pitched. “He wasn’t able to get balls where he wanted them. Balls were up in the zone and out over the plate. They swung the bats well, too. Duda did a good job. We had a ball on the outside part of the plate and he hit up the middle. The next one he got it just by Hilly. That’s just kind of frustrating.
“He made a good pitch on Granderson [in the third inning], the ball was in on him and he doesn’t hit any balls over there. But he hit it right through the shift. Overall, we asked him to do a lot. After one start and 73 pitches, I didn’t think he was really in sync, but he went out there and busted his tail.”
In all, Collmenter gave up three runs on five hits in a rather brief four-inning outing, as the Mets breezed by the D-backs 7-3 in front of 18, 099 at Chase Field.
“I felt good, just inefficient,” Collmenter said. “It kind of didn’t allow me to go as deep into the game as I wanted to. I threw a lot of pitches over the first handful of innings. But overall, I felt pretty good.
“I hit a lot of my spots, they just fouled a lot of pitches out. I didn’t get a lot of outs early, but I made a lot of good pitches and was happy with my command for the most part.”
New York added four insurance runs off of 26-year-old Mike Bolsinger, who was making his Major League debut, and Ryan Rowland-Smith, but it didn’t seem to matter much.
Mets starter Zack Wheeler made himself right at home for the second consecutive time at Chase Field. The right-hander threw 6.1 effective innings, allowing only two runs on six hits in the process.
With the loss, Arizona extended its losing streak to a season high-tying four games.
Sensing that Martin Prado was pressing in the clean-up spot, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson switched the order around, swapping the third baseman with catcher Miguel Montero.
The move paid off almost immediately, as Montero laced a fastball from Wheeler to the wall in right field in the bottom of the first inning. Curtis Granderson made an admirable stab at the frozen rope but couldn’t hold on to it after colliding into the fence. Paul Goldschmidt scored all the way from first on the double for the D-backs’ first lead since the 10th inning of last Thursday night’s 6-5 win over the San Francisco Giants.
Montero recorded two more RBI on the evening with a sacrifice fly in the third and a single to left field in the eighth.
He finished a perfect 3-for-3 at the dish.
Including Monday night, D-backs pitchers have allowed at least one run through the first three innings in each of the last seven games. In that span, Arizona has been out-scored 26-14.
In each of his first three innings of work, Collmenter allowed the lead-off batter to reach base. Two of those three went on to score for the Mets.
The base-running woes continued for Arizona. On Miguel Montero’s RBI sacrifice fly in the third, Aaron Hill was caught trying to advance a base on the throw home. Wright promptly caught off the throw and gunned Hill out at third. The gaffe cost the D-backs a chance to tie the game with two ducks on the pond.
But Hill wasn’t the only violator. For the second consecutive game, rookie Chris Owings inexplicably was picked off of first base to end the fourth inning.
Lauded before the game by general manager Kevin Towers for being a strike thrower, Bolsinger labored in his first major league appearance.
In his 75-pitch relief outing, the former 15th-round pick allowed two runs on six hits and also walked two.
“It’s hard to control your emotions anytime, but especially your first time up in the big leagues,” Bolsinger said. “That’s something I need to work on before my next start.
“It was important [to get the reps]. I mean I got away from how I was pitching in Triple-A. I have to throw more strikes. I have to get better at that.”
Bolsinger is slated to start in Trevor Cahill’s spot Saturday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
STAT OF THE GAME:
Factoring in Collmenter’s departure after four innings of work, Arizona’s staff has registered just two quality starts to begin the 2014 campaign. It’s the fewest in all of baseball — two fewer than the second-worst squads, the Colorado Rockies and Giants.
HE SAID IT:
“Everybody wants to be the guy who puts his foot in the ground and turns this thing around. I think that’s what everyone is trying to do. It might take an outing like, but I think if we get on a roll where you hand the next guy the ball and then he hands the ball to the next guy. Anything that can perpetuate quality start after quality start. That’s what we have to do. That’s what we’re trying to do. There’s no quit. Everybody’s trying, you can tell. It’s just frustrating not to get the results.” – D-backs right-hander Josh Collmenter
– Rookie shortstop Chris Owings has registered 16 hits in his first 20 appearances this season. Of those 15 hits, 13 have been singles.
– Collmenter became the second pitcher in as many days not to make it past the fourth inning for the D-backs. Through 16 games, Arizona is averaging a shade under 5.1 innings per start.
– Mets first baseman Lucas Duda tied a career-high with four hits in the victory. He last recorded four base knocks on June 17, 2013.
– In 2014, the D-backs already have two losing streak of at least four games — a dubious feat they only achieved four times all of last season.
– Veteran Randy Wolf, who signed with the team last week, gave up four runs in six innings of work for Triple-A Reno. Wolf also struck out seven but took the loss against the Chihuahuas.
The D-backs resume their six-game homestand Tuesday night against the Mets. Right-hander Bronson Arroyo (1-0, 4.82 ERA) will take the ball for Arizona. He’ll be opposed by New York right-hander Jenrry Mejia (1-0, 4.09 ERA). In his career, Arroyo is 8-3 with a 3.63 ERA when facing the Mets. He had a six-game, undefeated streak vs. New York from May 10, 2008 through July 7, 2010. First pitch at Chase Field is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. and can be heard on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.