Diamondbacks bench several starters, not ‘throwing in the towel’

Sep 19, 2018, 4:49 PM | Updated: 9:55 pm
Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo watches his team play the Atlanta Braves during the seco...

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo watches his team play the Atlanta Braves during the second inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept 9, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

PHOENIX — There was an unmistakable deviation from the Diamondbacks’ typical lineup on Wednesday in the team’s series finale against the Cubs.

Paul Goldschmidt, Eduardo Escobar, A.J. Pollock, David Peralta and Steven Souza Jr. were missing from the starting nine.

Patrick Kivlehan (four games played, 1-for-3 in 2018), Ildemaro Vargas (20 career games played) and Christian Walker (7-for-41 this season) were in the lineup.

The move comes a day after the D-backs lost 9-1 to the Cubs to lose the home series, fell to six games out of first place and took their 13th loss in 17 September games.

“I know when you look at the lineup today, you’re probably thinking like we’re throwing in the towel and I want to get a look at guys, that’s not the case at all. That’s not it at all,” manager Torey Louvllo said. “If-and-when something does happen like that, yeah, certainly we may take guys off the field and get a different look at certain guys.”

Arizona had scored a combined two runs over the last two games entering Wednesday, both of them losses at the hands of the first-place Chicago Cubs at Chase Field. The D-backs came to the ballpark looking to avoid a sweep with Robbie Ray on the mound against Cole Hamels.

“What’s been happening over the past several days has not been working, and I feel like it’s my job to pay attention to certain things and the needs of this team daily to win a baseball game,” Lovullo said. “I talk about maybe adjusting some cards in my hand every once in a while, today I just shuffled the deck.”

Lovullo said the changes were not to give rest to the starters, per se.

“I just felt like things that have been going on for the past couple days haven’t been going great. I wanted to switch it up and see what that looked like,” Lovullo said. “I’m excited for the guys that are getting the opportunity to play, I know they work hard for this type of moment, they’re prepared, and hopefully it will yield good results.”

The D-backs’ elimination number is five, with 10 games to go, including Wednesday. For each win by the first-place team (currently the Dodgers) or each loss by the D-backs, the elimination number decreases by one, until Arizona is mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.

“I don’t think we’re at that point yet where we’re turning the page. Like I said last night: We’ve still got a foot in this race,” Lovullo said. “This was just my way of saying, ‘Let’s go out and perform, try to win a game, score some runs and hold them down.'”

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Diamondbacks bench several starters, not ‘throwing in the towel’