D-backs bats quieted, singles get to Mike Leake in series finale loss
PHOENIX — Two phenomena seemed to have emerged in Mike Leake’s short time with the Arizona Diamondbacks so far.
Number one: He’s been efficient, getting through a large volume of opposing hitters in a relatively low number of pitches. Number two: He’s giving up a lot of hits.
Leake, who allowed eight hits in five innings pitched on Wednesday — a Diamondbacks 7-2 loss to the Rockies — has now given up 37 hits in his first four starts since joining the D-backs via trade on July 31.
The 31-year-old’s WHIP in four starts with Arizona is 1.875. Yet he’s still averaging just 16.36 pitches per inning in that span, which over the course of this whole season would have him ranked 40th among 70 qualifying major-league starters. His mark for the season overall is 15.35 pitches per inning, which ranks him 10th in MLB.
Manager Torey Lovullo said after the game that he felt like Leake, while giving up eight hits, succeeded in preventing the Rockies from squaring up balls and making hard-contact.
Of Leake’s eight hits allowed on Wednesday, seven were singles. In his five-inning start, he only allowed two baserunners that didn’t get on via the single: One was a double by the Rockies’ Dom Nunez in the second inning, and the other was a Yonder Alonso hit-by-pitch in the fourth inning.
“That’s his style. He’s going to pitch to contact and he’s not afraid of putting the ball on the plate,” Lovullo said. “And he’s making adjustment. That’s really what we’re looking at. We know that there’s going to be some balls that get through the infield.
“We try to work very hard at positioning guys and putting them in the right place and making adjustments off of that. So I can live with the base hits. It’s the slug that we’re trying to stay away from.”
Leake gave up back-to-back hits four times. The eight hits and one hit-by-pitch amounted to two Rockies runs in the first inning and three in the sixth.
“Sometimes balls through holes can beat you, and today was that,” Leake said. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite missing enough barrel to where they could hit it to our guys.”
Leake’s final line was five innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits, no walks, a strikeout and one hit batter. He threw 73 pitches.
The other two runs were scored one each in the sixth and seventh innings, both off D-backs pitcher Joel Payamps. It was Payamps’ MLB debut. Payamps went three innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk with three strikeouts. Matt Andriese pitched the scoreless ninth inning.
D-BACKS BATS STIFLED BY MELVILLE
The probable pitcher for the Rockies to face the D-backs on Wednesday was Jon Gray, until Gray was placed on the 60-day DL with a left foot fracture. In his place, the Rockies recalled Tim Melville, who pitched seven innings, allowing one run on two hits and two walks with four strikeouts in the spot start. He threw 101 pitches.
Lovullo said he found out late last night that the Rockies would start Melville instead of Gray, but that he felt like the D-backs had enough time to prepare for the new hurler.
“Looked to me like he was making the crafty pitch when he needed to, and then going out of the zone and we were chasing,” Lovullo said of Melville. “I don’t know what our swing percentage was on balls out of the zone, but I’m imagining that it was a little bit higher than it has been in a while.”
The D-backs’ offense was victim to a 1-2-3 inning on four different occasions with Melville on the mound. He retired 11 hitters in a row from the first inning to the fifth inning. Arizona’s first run came from a solo home run by Ketel Marte, who sent one out in the sixth inning. It was Marte’s 27th home run of the season.
Facing Jesus Tinoco, the D-backs got another run in the eighth inning on a solo home run by Alex Avila, his ninth of the year. Arizona got four hits total on the day.
The loss meant the D-backs failed to complete the sweep against the Rockies. Arizona is now 64-64, back at .500 once again. The D-backs entered Wednesday 4.0 games back of the second NL Wild Card spot with four teams to leapfrog to take that spot.
“Been like that all year, we ain’t been able to get over the hump,” Jarrod Dyson said. “But you know what? Nobody’s in here hanging their heads, because we know it’s a lot of games left. Games got to be played, we’ve got to show up and play them.”