PHOENIX — The penultimate game in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ season went slightly better than Friday’s misery-filled affair that saw the D-backs surrender a franchise record 21 runs over nine innings, but the end result was just the same.
Falling 6-2 to the Houston Astros before 37,687 fans in attendance at Chase Field Saturday night, the D-backs hope they can salvage something Sunday from a three-game series has seen Murphy’s Law play out in stunning fashion for Arizona.
For a brief moment in the first inning, the Astros seemed to threaten to continue the tremendous momentum they generated the night before. Houston second baseman Jose Altuve led off the game with a double before rookie phenom Carlos Correa eventually plated the diminutive Altuve with a sacrifice fly to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.
D-backs starter Jeremy Hellickson would eventually settle down and pitch shutout innings in the second and third, but the Houston bats would come alive in the fourth and fifth thanks to solo homers from Colby Rasmus and Altuve, respectively.
Hellickson would exit the game scattering seven hits and three earned runs over five innings, striking out three en route to his 12th loss of the season.
The D-backs would pick up a run a run in the sixth courtesy of a Welington Castillo single that drove home A.J. Pollock, but Astros would respond with a run in the seventh and two more in the eighth to effectively quell any designs the D-backs had in mounting a comeback.
– The defensive play of the day arguably came from the arm of D-backs rookie outfielder Socrates Brito in the second inning, who gunned down Houston’s Chris Carter from right field in Carter’s attempt to reach third after Preston Tucker lined out to the 23-year-old Dominican. In fact, Brito would help secure all three outs in the inning, recording the third out as Jason Castro also lined out to right.
– The addition of Castillo has paid dividends for the D-backs this season and it was once again exemplified Saturday in the sixth inning. With A.J. Pollock on second, Castillo roped a single to center that scored Pollock to give Arizona their first run of the game. In 14 Interleague games this season, Castillo is batting .373 (19-for-51) with four doubles, six home runs and 11 RBI.
– Goldschmidt’s solo home run in the eighth inning gives him 32 for the season. “Goldy” is the fourth player in D-backs history with multiple 30-homer seasons alongside Steve Finley, Luis Gonzalez and Mark Reynolds.
– The Astros wasted no time picking up where they left off following Friday night’s 21-5 drubbing of the D-backs. Altuve led off the game with a double before a single from George Springer moved him to third. Carlos Correa would then bring Altuve home with a sacrifice fly to give the Astros the early 1-0 advantage.
– Hellickson allowed his 21st and 22nd home runs of the season in the fourth and fifth innings. Colby Rasmus’ solo shot in the fourth extended Houston’s lead to 2-0 before Altuve piled on in the fifth with a solo blast of his own, depositing Hellickson’s offering over the left field wall.
– Though Hellickson exited the game after five innings, Rasmus continued to torment Arizona pitching. In the eighth against D-backs reliever Matt Reynolds, Rasmus belted his second home run of the game, another solo shot that increased Houston’s lead to 5-1.
STAT OF THE GAME
6.98: Hellickson’s ERA in 14 starts vs. Interleague competition. His loss Saturday drops him to 1-9 over that span.
HE SAID IT
“He’s playing well. He’s playing good fundamental baseball, keeping the ball down on his throws, every at-bat he puts a competitive at-bat out there. It’s been good for us to see at this level. Obviously, we saw it at spring training, but to see it here in September is good. He’s opening up some eyes.” – D-backs manager Chip Hale on the recent play of Socrates Brito.
– Friday night’s D-backs crowd of 33,218 pushed the season attendance total to 2,017,670. The team has eclipsed the two-million in attendance mark in each of its 18 years of existence.
– Though he didn’t make an appearance in the game, D-backs infielder Phil Gosselin celebrated his 27th birthday Saturday night.
– All D-backs starting pitchers this season have been under 30 years of age. It’s the first time in franchise history that Arizona has gone an entire season with starting pitching under the age of 30. (One of only two teams in MLB this year to do so along with the Tampa Bay Rays.)
Making the final start of the season for the D-backs will be left-hander Robbie Ray, who climbs the hill against the Astros on Sunday, Oct. 4.
Last time out, Ray (5-12) received a no-decision in a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies in which he allowed two earned runs over six innings pitched
In his last three starts at Chase Field, Ray has posted a 3.45 ERA (six earned runs over 15.2 innings pitched) as the team has gone 2-1.
In two career starts versus Houston, Ray is 1-1 with a 4.35 ERA (five earned runs over 10.1 innings pitched).
Right-hander Lance McCullers provides the opposition.
This will be his 21st time starting; and as a starter, McCullers is 6-7 with a 3.21 ERA (43 earned runs over 120.2 innings pitched).
Sunday will mark McCullers’ first time facing the D-backs.
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