D-backs get first taste of a new normal, fall to Dodgers in exhibition game
The Arizona Diamondbacks took the field against another team for the first time in 132 days on Sunday, losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-2 in an exhibition game at Dodger Stadium.
While the return to playing baseball brought back a bit of normalcy, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic were still present.
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said the team took four busses right from the airport to the stadium and separated in the dugout to practice social distancing.
Lovullo and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts wore masks in the dugouts, cardboard cutouts of fans were in the seats and artificial crowd noise was pumped into the stadium.
“This place obviously gets bumping … so you didn’t feel that vibe and that heartbeat that goes along with playing games in this stadium,” Lovullo said.
The atmosphere of not having fans in the stands will be something the players will have to get used to as the 60-game season goes on.
“We got to bring our own energy,” D-backs shortstop Nick Ahmed said. “Find a way in those tough stretch of games where you aren’t playing well or lacking energy, got to figure out how to get that and just dig deep.”
Even with the differences surrounding the game from just a few months ago, playing baseball against another team again was exciting for Lovullo.
“We were playing baseball again, we’re playing against another team and it’s the competition that we all know and love,” he said. “I looked out and thought this was unbelievable.”
Ketel Marte helped the return of normalcy with his at-bat in the first inning, smacking a home run to right field.
Ketel Marte, everyone. pic.twitter.com/k6qkGqmOgB
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) July 20, 2020
The rest of the game didn’t go well for the D-backs as the team only put three more hits on the board and starting pitcher Taylor Wiedner struggled through four innings.
Wiedner gave up six runs on five hits while walking four and striking out three.
He walked two and gave up a hit in the first inning, resulting in Dodgers centerfielder Cody Bellinger putting four runs on Arizona in the first inning with a grand slam.
Archie Bradley, who was named the team’s closer on Saturday, gave up two hits and a run while striking out one in his single inning of relief.
Two of the newest D-backs had a good evening, meanwhile, as Stephen Vogt picked up an RBI single and Junior Guerra struck out the side in an inning of relief.
The D-backs play another exhibition game against the Dodgers on Monday at 6:40 p.m. Listen to all the action on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.