PHOENIX — Finishing off a 10-game road trip with four straight wins and coming home to begin a four-game set against Major League Baseball’s best team, the Arizona Diamondbacks had to like their chances.
Chances they had against the St. Louis Cardinals.
They just couldn’t do much with them.
That happens. Mental lapses and poor defense are usually what this D-backs team avoids; a team that heading into the night led the majors in defensive runs saved.
The Diamondbacks saw several prime scoring opportunities, but failed to score with the bases loaded on three occasions before falling 5-3 despite recording 13 hits.
Manager Chip Hale’s squad also recorded two errors, and another miscue when it didn’t cover a base on a bunt play with a runner already on board in the seventh inning.
Arizona got caught sleeping when a bunt by pinch-hitter Peter Bourjos pulled Jake Lamb off third. Lamb got the out at first, but with Greg Garcia rounding second and taking off for third with the base vacated, Welington Castillo hustled to the base but failed to grab and tag Garcia. He did, however, collide with Garcia’s head.
“As soon as the bunt was put down and (Castillo) knew Lamb was going to field it, his job is to get to third, and he knows that,” Hale said. “He’s very aware that he made that mistake.”
Yet, Arizona fought until that seventh, when Hale’s team went through three pitchers and allowed three runs, the final two on a Yadier Molina two-run single that came just as “Let’s go Cardinals” chants rang out at Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks, trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh and hoping to respond, loaded the bases with two outs. But the rally would fall short of the wall — literally — when catcher Castillo’s deep drive to right didn’t reach the fence.
“We had our chances,” Hale said. “Did a great job of getting guys in scoring position, some of our good RBI guys like Goldy, Aaron Hill coming up, just hit into double plays. You also have to give the pitcher credit.”
– Jhoulys Chacin got off to a promising start as a member of the D-backs, and his grit showed especially in the fifth inning. St. Louis put two aboard to begin the frame, but the second hit by Garcia was inches away from being a double play. With runner Mark Reynolds going, Paul Goldcshmidt fielded a hard hit at first and gunned it to shortstop Chris Owings at second, but the throw went wide, and an out-stretched Owings couldn’t reel it in (it could’ve been another story had the taller, longer Nick Ahmed not had the day off).
Chacin came to the rescue, putting the next two batters — Lance Lynn and Matt Carpenter — away with strikeouts via slider. He then induced a pop-up to get out of trouble. Chacin threw 96 pitches and lasted 6.1 innings, striking out five and allowing six hits and three runs, two of which were earned.
“Threw strikes, worked quick, let guys play,” Hale said. “He deserved a better fate, obviously. We didn’t play very good defense behind him, not very characteristic of how we’ve played all season.”
– Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn commanded the top of the D-backs’ order, quickly retiring the first four batters before being taken for a ride by five-slot man Castillo, who blasted a fastball down the middle into the Chase Field pool suite, giving Arizona a 1-0 lead in the second inning.
– Hill smacked a double to left-center field to score Lamb from first and tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth, a fine response to St. Louis’ second run of the game that was scored in the top of the frame.
– Chacin’s first of few errors came in the top of the third, when he hung a pitch down the middle of the plate, allowing Carpenter to smash a home run that dropped into the camera well in dead center field. The score tied the game at a run apiece.
– A failed opportunity with bases loaded and an out in the fourth was quickly forgotten when Arizona earned itself the same situation in the fifth. The D-backs put Chacin (right field single), Ender Inciarte (error) and A.J. Pollock (bunt single) on base with an out on the board, setting up Goldschmidt. But like Hill had before him, Goldschmidt hit into a double play. The Cards caught the D-backs with four double plays on the night — one each in the third through sixth innings.
“They played well, I’m not taking anything away,” Goldschmidt said of St. Louis. “But we hold ourselves to a high standard. It starts with myself tonight. Making an error … Got to do a better job of getting the ball in the air and get a run in, and get us a lead and some momentum there.”
– Goldschmidt earned his third error on the year with his bad throw to second, and David Peralta earned another in the top of the sixth by kicking around a ball hit to left field. Jason Heyward, who reached third on the play, would soon score an unearned run to put St. Louis ahead 2-1.
STAT OF THE GAME
4 – Arizona grounded into four double plays in four consecutive innings.
HE SAID IT
“I’ve been pitching here before and it was familiar for me, but it was a little nervous in the first inning. After that it was nice and easy. In the first inning, it was a little (bit of) butterflies.” – Jhoulys Chacin on his first MLB game since 2014 when he was with the Rockies.
– Reliever Andrew Chafin’s streak without allowing an earned run ended at 19 games Monday. He allowed one hit and one earned run while facing one batter in the seventh inning. Chafin would have set the D-backs’ rookie record for most consecutive scoreless appearances.
– Josh Collmenter came out of the bullpen for two strong innings of work where he allowed only one hit and a walk.
– Pollock’s double in the ninth inning was his 31st of the season. The center fielder would pull the D-backs within 5-3 on a single by Peralta before the rally was cut short.
Two left-handers will square off Tuesday in the second game of the series between the Cardinals and Diamondbacks.
Robbie Ray will take the mound for the D-backs fresh off an extra day off due to the Monday call-up of Chacin,
Ray has been tagged with a loss in each of his last four starts, giving up three runs in three of the outings and four in the other. It didn’t help Ray that the D-backs’ offense scored a single run in three of his last four starts and only two in another.
Putting together a big offensive night could be difficult.
St. Louis sends Jaime Garcia and his 1.79 ERA out to pitch. In his last 26.2 innings pitched over his last four starts, Garcia has allowed four runs.
First pitch is schedule for 6:40 p.m. MST and listeners can tune into Arizona Sports 98.7 for the pre-game show which starts at 6:00 p.m.
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