PHOENIX — It’s been no day at the beach for Brandon McCarthy this season, even on Beach Night.
Yet, the Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander felt encouraged following his outing against the Atlanta Braves despite once again being handed the loss, 5-2 before a crowd of 24,504 in the series opener at Chase Field on Friday.
McCarthy (1-8) pitched a quality start — his fifth of the season, but first in three outings — allowing three runs on nine hits in 6.1 innings. He walked one and struck out nine.
“The last few weeks have been tough. And It’s just been a weird season,” said McCarthy, who has lost more games than any pitcher in the majors this season. “Starts like that are nice where at least, the outcome kind of sucks, but there are situations that had snowballed in past starts that today I was able to kind of grind through and make pitches. So there’s positives to be taken from that.”
The big inning was avoided this time.
McCarthy escaped a pair of two-out, two-on situations in both the second and sixth innings plus worked around a one-out double in the fourth. However, he got tagged for two runs, on a Jason Heyward two-run home run, in the fifth plus one run in the seventh when after a one-out walk to Heyward, Andrelton Simmons hit a ball into the left field corner for an RBI double.
“He threw the ball good. He threw the ball very good,” said manager Kirk Gibson of McCarthy. “Gave us a chance to win.”
A Diamondbacks offense that had scored 32 runs in a three-game sweep of the Rockies in Colorado was limited to two runs on hits by starter Julio Teheran (6-3) and three relievers, including Cole Kimbrel who recorded the final four outs for his 16th save of the season.
Didi Gregorius homered for the second time in as many games played since he was recalled from Triple-A Reno. He led off the home half of the first with a line drive shot over the right field fence for his second career lead-off home run. His first occurred just two days earlier, June 4 at Colorado.
With his fourth inning strikeout of good friend Justin Upton, McCarthy notched his fifth ‘K’ of the game or one more than he recorded in each of his past two starts. McCarthy finished with nine strikeouts, giving him 72 on the season, tied with Wade Miley for the team lead.
McCarthy also proved to be pretty good with a bat in his hand. He hit a two-out game-tying single through the left side to plate David Peralta with the Diamondbacks second run. It was McCarthy’s fourth career hit, but more importantly, it was his first career RBI.
By the way, Peralta has hit safely in all five games he’s played since his promotion from Double-A Mobile. He went 2-for-4 and is now batting .421 (8-for-19) with three doubles as a big leaguer.
Gerardo Parra made a nice diving catch in right-center field to rob Simmons of extra bases and possibly save a run in the ninth inning.
Good thing Gregorius was inserted into the lineup. Through four innings, Diamondbacks hitters not named Gregorius were a combined 0-for-12 with two strikeouts against starter Julio Teheran. Gregorius, meanwhile, was 1-for-1 with a home run and a walk in his first two at-bats.
Aside from Gregorius’ lead-off home run, the Diamondbacks had very few scoring chances against Teheran. Peralta was the only other batter to reach second base and he ended up scoring, but other than that, Teheran limited the Diamondbacks to five hits over seven innings.
McCarthy has been prone to the big inning this season and on this night it was a mini-big inning. He allowed a go-ahead two-run home run to Jason Heyward in the fifth, the 12th time the right-hander has allowed two runs or more in an inning this season.
Starter-turned-reliever Trevor Cahill allowed two insurance runs in the ninth, meaning in the past two days he’s retired only three of the 11 batters faced, surrendering three runs on six hits and two walks in one official inning of work.
Upton, a one-time Arizona fan favorite, received a mixed reaction, just as he did a year ago, each time he was introduced prior to his plate appearances.
Apparently fans have forgotten his six-year career that produced 108 home runs, 363 RBI, two All-Star appearances and two NL West titles while wearing Sedona Red.
Stat of the Game:
3: The number of hits and runs scored by Jason Heyward as well as the number of runs allowed by Brandon McCarthy, who lost his third straight decision
He Said It:
“I think I got lucky. I think (Julio Teheran) hung a slider,” Brandon McCarthy said of his first career RBI. “It’s a good thing with that, but I think I now have as many RBI as I have wins and we’re in the second week of June, so that’s probably not a great thing. But at least for that moment it was kind of a cool thing.”
• Gregorius became the first Diamondback in franchise history to hit a lead-off home run in consecutive starts
• McCarthy has walked three batters or less in 94 straight starts, the second-longest active streak in baseball
• Craig Kimbrel’s four-out save was his 155th career save, setting a new Braves record, breaking a tie with John Smoltz (154)
• Diamondbacks have collected a double in 19 straight games, their longest such streak since a 21-games stretch from June 21 – July 12, 2013
Wade Miley looks to end a personal three-game losing streak and four-start winless streak when he takes the mound against the Atlanta Braves in game two of the three-game series on Saturday, June 7.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports, now on 98.7 FM..
Miley (3-6, 4.85) has not won a decision since May 10 when he beat the White Sox in Chicago, allowing two runs on four hits in seven innings. He’s 0-2 with an 11.81 ERA (14 earned runs in 10.2 innings pitched) in three career games, including two starts against the Braves.
Ervin Santana (5-2, 4.10) is the opposition. After nine seasons in the American League, including last season in Kansas City, the veteran right-hander is enjoying his first year in the “Senior Circuit”. He’s faced the, Diamondbacks twice in his career, winning both starts.