Called-up contributors provide D-backs added boost in sweep of Giants
Things weren’t exactly looking up for the Arizona Diamondbacks as they traveled to the Bay Area for a three-game series against the Giants.
In the series before San Francisco, the D-backs struggled mightily against the San Diego Padres, recording just five runs in the three-game sweep.
Injuries to Wilmer Flores and David Peralta, two of the more productive hitters in May, added to the team’s woes.
But luckily for the team, there was a light at the end of the tunnel as four minor-league call ups picked up the slack in a big way, helping erase the bad taste of what had turned into a five-game skid.
Here’s a look at the four who contributed to the team’s three-game series sweep of the Giants over the weekend:
Let’s start with Ildemaro Vargas, the so-called veteran of the bunch with 29 games logged this season.
After only mustering three doubles and a homer in his first 26 appearances, Vargas was optioned to Triple-A Reno as the team reinstated catcher Alex Avila from the injured list.
He wouldn’t wait long to get back in the lineup, however, as a right foot fracture to Flores brought Vargas back up to the majors on May 21.
It was a different Vargas this time around as the infielder went to work against the Giants.
In two games (11 plate appearances) against San Francisco, Vargas averaged .545 from the plate, with six hits, a home run and four RBI. He also posted a .545 OBP and scored five runs.
Joining the team three days after Vargas was Tim Locastro on May 24.
Recalled ahead of the Giants series for the injured Peralta, who went to the 10-day IL with inflammation to his right AC joint, Locastro quickly left his mark.
And so did the Giants pitchers on the outfielder.
In his first game back with the D-backs, Locastro was hit a franchise record three times by pitches to go along with a hit. He became just the 11th player all-time to have three HBP and a hit in MLB history.
It’s nothing new to Locastro, as he was pegged three times as member of the Reno Aces on May 16. Locastro is now up to seven HBP in 13 games played.
It was a different story on Saturday as the outfielder recorded two doubles, an RBI and two runs scored.
In his two games against the Giants (11 plate appearances), Locastro averaged .429 from the plate with a .636 OBP.
While most of the call ups produced runs, righty Taylor Clarke provided some stability at the back end of the D-backs pitching rotation.
After being called up Saturday, Clarke produced a solid outing in just his second career MLB start.
Picking up his second quality start in as many times, the pitcher went 6.1 innings, allowing just three earned runs on six hits. He also struck out four as he notched his first career win.
Clarke now sits at 1-1 with a 2.93 ERA, allowing five earned runs on 14 hits in 2019.
There could be more on the way for Clarke as manager Torey Lovullo called the outing “gritty” as the skipper noted the pitcher wasn’t fully hitting his marks on his secondary pitches.
Clarke’s also contributed from the bullpen, earning his first career save in his Major League debut on April 20 against the Cubs.
Recording a hit in the game as well, Clarke became the first pitcher since the save became an official stat in 1969 to record a save and a hit in his first MLB game.
Rounding out the contributing call ups is Kevin Cron, who joined the team on May 24.
With Christian Walker continued struggles in the month of May, the team looked to Cron to provide an added bat in the lineup.
While he didn’t get the same amount of reps as the other batters on the list, Cron produced when called upon.
In his first career MLB start, the first baseman recorded his first career hit, which was a double, and two RBI in five plate appearances.
Lovullo credited Cron after the game.
“He had a really good idea of what he’s trying to do per at-bat,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo told reporters of the Mountain Pointe alum’s performance.
“He’s very comfortable, he’s been in this surrounding for a long time — he was born in a bat bag — so I think he’s very, very comfortable knowing he’s at the big-league level and ready to perform.”