ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Sedona Red Recap: Meltdown in ninth inning costs Diamondbacks first place

Apr 29, 2017, 10:42 PM | Updated: Apr 30, 2017, 12:39 pm
Arizona Diamondbacks' Fernando Rodney throws a pitch against the Colorado Rockies during the ninth ...

Arizona Diamondbacks' Fernando Rodney throws a pitch against the Colorado Rockies during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, April 29, 2017, in Phoenix. Rodney gave up three runs in a save attempt as the Rockies defeated the Diamondbacks 7-6. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

PHOENIX, Ariz. — A struggling bullpen can certainly make life tough on a baseball team. Fortunately for the Arizona Diamondbacks, they’ve gotten some pretty good pitching from the likes of Archie Bradley, J.J. Hoover and Jorge De La Rosa in middle relief.

The ninth inning is becoming an issue though.

Making his first appearance since blowing a save against the Padres on Wednesday, things got away from Fernando Rodney again in the ninth on Saturday. When the dust settled, a 6-4 Arizona lead had evaporated into a 7-6 loss to Colorado in front of 30,445 at Chase Field. And what looked like a night in which the D-backs would take over first in the NL West ultimately turned into a gut-wrenching finish that saw Colorado somehow widen their lead to a game and a half.

Questions about the closer role are growing louder by the day now too. For his part, Rodney converted each of his first six save opportunities this year, before letting these most recent two chances slip away. But these last two have been particularly awful, to the point where he has surrendered eight earned runs over just 1.2 innings of work.

What’s worse, Rodney was far from dominant in the saves he did convert. So it’s not like anyone felt particularly comfortable even when he was finishing the job. His ERA now sits at 12.60 for the year, and he’s allowed at least one run in six of his 11 appearances as Arizona’s closer.

Granted, he’s made a pretty long career out of toeing the line while still finding ways to register saves. But this is suddenly a critical juncture for the Diamondbacks. Yes, it’s very early in the season – but nobody wants to make a habit of handing games to their division rivals.

Things were going pretty well for Arizona over the first eight innings on Saturday too. Zack Greinke allowed three home runs, but they were all of the solo variety. And he struck out nine while keeping everyone else from crossing the plate. That allowed him to exit in the seventh with a 6-3 lead.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks were getting it done with the bats again. Brandon Drury, Jeff Mathis and Jake Lamb all smacked home runs, and five different Arizona hitters crossed home. It wasn’t an amazing offensive outburst or anything, but it was another solid night at the plate – the sort of evening that usually leads to a win with Greinke on the mound.

Instead, the D-backs will have to recover and look to salvage a win on Sunday. No matter what happens, this will be the first home series they’ve lost this season. But bouncing back with a victory would help erase the memory of Saturday’s loss and pull them back to within a half-game of first place.

THE GOOD

-Once again, Arizona executed a successful double steal. This time, it was A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt getting it done in the first inning.

-That’s now 25 consecutive successful stolen base attempts for Goldschmidt.

-Drury hit his first home run of the season in the bottom of the second, putting the ball into the left field seats so quickly that Colorado outfielder Gerardo Parra didn’t even move.

-Two batters later, Mathis launched one into the same area. Parra at least turned around to look at this one though.

-Greinke worked out of a jam in the fifth, getting Nolan Arenado to pop up to the catcher, then striking out Carlos Gonzalez to strand runners on first and second.

-Lamb absolutely crushed his home run in the fifth, sending it an estimated 481 feet. That’s tied for the fifth-longest shot ever by a Diamondback at Chase Field.

-Lamb also made a great barehanded grab and throw to first to record the second out in that dreaded ninth inning. At the time, it looked like that might still be enough to help Arizona escape with the win.

-Bradley tossed another two-thirds of an inning of shutout baseball. His ERA now sits at 1.20.

THE BAD

-Trevor Story has seven home runs in 35 career Chase Field at-bats after his third-inning blast tonight. The D-backs might need to explore trading for him at some point, just so they don’t have to pitch to him anymore.

-Rodney’s ninth inning was the sort of stuff that gives managers nightmares. He entered with a 6-4 lead, but allowed a single, issued a walk, then an intentional walk, followed by a single and a pair of wild pitches. He nearly hit a couple batters along the way as well.

STAT OF THE GAME

6: The number of consecutive games in which Arizona pitchers have registered at least 11 strikeouts. They’re the first team in National League history to pull that off, and the only other Major League club to ever do it was the Cleveland Indians, in 2014.

HE SAID IT

“For right now, Fernando’s our closer. It’s going to be the same situation the next time he’s ready.” – Torey Lovullo

NOTED

-As a hitter, Greinke took a Tyler Anderson pitch all the way to the right-field warning track in the fourth inning.

-It was announced earlier in the day that Shelby Miller will undergo Tommy John surgery.

UP NEXT

These two clubs will meet again at Chase Field on Sunday. First pitch is set for 1:10, with pregame coverage beginning at 12:30 on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

Patrick Corbin (2-3) will take the mound for Arizona, looking for his second straight win. He scattered two earned runs over seven innings in a victory over the Padres on April 25, and already has four quality starts on the season.

Corbin’s last two outings, in particular, have been impressive, as he has allowed just four earned runs while fanning 17 over 13 innings. He’s 5-2 with a 4.99 ERA in 13 career appearances against Colorado.

The Rockies will counter with German Marquez (0-1), who will be making just his second start of the year and fifth of his Major League career. He was lit up by the Nationals earlier this week, to the tune of eight runs over just four innings. His only experience against the Diamondbacks was tossing two scoreless innings in a game last season.

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Sedona Red Recap: Meltdown in ninth inning costs Diamondbacks first place