D-backs offense shows more positives, but losing streak continues to Royals

Mar 3, 2020, 11:36 PM
Manager Torey Lovullo #17 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on from the top step of the dugout duri...
Manager Torey Lovullo #17 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on from the top step of the dugout during the first inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field on September 02, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

A night game in Surprise during spring training can throw off a player’s routine. Maybe, Arizona Diamondbacks head coach Torey Lovullo said hopefully before the game, getting thrown off their routine would be good.

The Diamondbacks entered the Tuesday night game against the Kansas City Royals on a six-game losing streak. The offense has struggled to score runs early in the game, which has prevented Arizona from having much of a chance.

The offense was better Tuesday, only suffering one 1-2-3 inning, but the D-backs lost 6-4.

Before any of that, though, life threw them one more change in routine.

There was an hour-long delay when, during a routine security check, a trained explosive dog alerted police to a static display vehicle outside the center field gate advertising a local dealership, according to Surprise spokesperson Lt. Tim Klarkowski. The Glendale Police Department arrived and determined there was no threat.

First pitch was thrown at 7:05 instead of 6:05.

Whether or not the change in routine helped, the offense came alive earlier than it had during the past week.

“I thought overall the at-bats were better. The timing was improving and I thought we had some very good results,” manager Torey Lovullo said.

In the second inning, Tim Locastro did what he does better than anyone else: He got hit by pitch.

Domingo Leyba drove him home with a double and then Josh Rojas hit a two-run home run to take a 3-2 lead.

They needed those runs to counter a pair the Royals scored off Luke Weaver in the first inning.

Weaver walked the first two batters on nine total pitches, and both came around to score on a base hit by Maikel Franco. Weaver threw 31 pitches in the first inning, 18 of which were strikes.

Lovullo allowed him to go out to start the second inning. Initially, Weaver had a 45 pitch count, but because of how many he threw in the first, the plan changed.

Weaver struck out the only batter he faced in the second inning, but it took seven pitches. He finished the game with 38 pitches and 23 strikes.

Overall, it’s a good sign Lovullo let him go back out, considering Weaver is coming off injury last season and Lovullo has insisted there’s no limitations on him to enter the season.

Weaver thought that after the first couple batters, he pitched alright.

“Besides putting my fielders to sleep, throwing a bajillion pitches in the first inning again, and getting my heart rate above the normal limit, I think it went well,” he said.

“There’s a couple mechanical things, just real simple stuff. I think the adrenaline of the game is kind of dictating it, just the little things that are throwing my sites off the plate.”

Afterward, he said he felt good and there’s no hesitation coming off his injury last season. Weaver was pleased with his fastball, which tended to sit at 94 miles per hour.

The biggest thing he needs to fix: retiring the batter after getting him to two strikes. Five of his final six batters got to two-strike counts, but two of them got hits, including Franco’s single on an 0-2 count.

“Those kill pitches, those put-away pitches are just not landing where I want them to,” Weaver said, and added that it will be an emphasis for the rest of spring.

He came out of the game when the Diamondbacks had the lead. Overall, Arizona’s offense performed well: Carson Kelly had a nine-pitch at-bat in the first inning that ended in a base hit. Stephen Vogt had a ground rule double and a triple. Kole Calhoun hit a home run in the fifth that gave Arizona a 4-3 lead.

But in the bottom half of the fifth, Kevin Ginkel gave up a pair of runs. Keury Mella gave up a home run in the sixth, and the Royals were able to hold onto that lead for the win. Ginkel took the loss.


– Locastro has now been hit by pitch twice this spring.

– Jake Lamb made an error at first base on a routine play. His foot wasn’t on the bag when he received the throw and Hunter Dozier got to the bag safely.

– Relief pitcher Stefan Chrichton had some good movement in his secondary pitches. After Lamb’s error, he forced a double play and then a popup to second base to get out of the third inning unscathed.

– Catchers Carson Kelly and Stephen Vogt both started the game, with Kelly in the designated hitter spot. Lovullo said he’s trying to get them both more swings.

“They’re the group that gets hammered the most when it comes to consistency with the at-bats,” Lovullo said before the game.

Kelly is scheduled to catch for Madison Bumgarner on Wednesday against the Cleveland Indians.

– While there are no limitations on Weaver entering the season, Lovullo expects there to be an inning count on him late in the year. Weaver only threw 64.1 innings last season because of injury, and his highest number was 136.1 innings in 2018.

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