Diamondbacks suffer 2 different losses in series opener with Rockies

Aug 24, 2020, 11:45 PM

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo reacts after being ejected from the game by umpire Rob D...

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo reacts after being ejected from the game by umpire Rob Drake during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX – It’s tough to figure out the 2020 Arizona Diamondbacks. And that could be a problem, because the season’s already halfway over.

Arizona once again struggled to get anything going at the plate on Monday night, falling to the visiting Rockies by a final of 3-2 at Chase Field. It’s the D-backs’ sixth straight loss, dropping them to 13-17. A week ago, they were in the midst of a six-game winning streak. Given how good they looked during that run, this sudden drop off doesn’t make much sense.

There’s a clear theme in this recent stretch of losses, though: no hitting. Torey Lovullo’s team has scored a total of eight runs over the last six outings – an average of 1.5 per game. During that six-game winning streak, they put up 44 runs. That’s 7.3 runs per game, and it clearly makes life a lot easier on your pitchers.

Taylor Clarke didn’t have that luxury in this one, though. Making a last-second emergency start for the injured Merrill Kelly, the 26-year old righty delivered an admirable performance. He allowed two runs — one earned — over four innings of work. His only real mistake was a pitch that Trevor Story launched 449 feet over the left field wall in the first inning.

From there, Taylor Widener, Kevin Ginkel and Stefan Crichton combined to allow only one run over the next five innings, giving Arizona a chance to grab the win and crawl out of last in the NL West. It just didn’t happen.

The bigger issue is Kelly’s injury. Aside from being a great story as a former Arizona State pitcher who bounced around the minors and the KBO before finally landing with the Diamondbacks as a 30-year old rookie last season, he’s been one of the few stable arms in the rotation this year. His 2.59 ERA and 0.99 WHIP are among the best in the National League, and that carries extra weight on a team that hasn’t gotten much from Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray or Luke Weaver yet.

“I honestly don’t know,” Kelly said, when asked about a potential timetable for his return. “Today was step one, just acknowledging the fact that I need to deal with this and not try to press through it. But after today I honestly haven’t dove into the schematics of what’s about to happen.”

That puts more pressure on the hitters, but they weren’t able to step up on Monday. Other than a Kole Calhoun home run in the third, and another solo shot by Christian Walker in the fourth, Arizona couldn’t solve Colorado starter Ryan Castellani. The Brophy product threw mostly sinkers and sliders, while scattering just three hits over six innings of work to notch his first career win.

For a low scoring game, however, this one did have some fireworks. Eduardo Escobar had to be looked at after Colorado catcher Tony Wolters ran into his left arm during a play at third base in the third inning. And Lovullo was ejected in the fifth, when the inning ended with Calhoun being called out for interference after being hit in the head by a throw as he ran to second base.

On top of all that, there was a balk called on the Rockies that was ultimately reversed as well.

“Probably as high as it’s been since I’ve been the manager here,” Lovullo acknowledged when asked where his frustration level is. “I wasn’t in a good spot and, obviously, I showed that out there today. But I’m passionate. I’m going to fight and I’m going to battle for the things that I believe in. It’s just who I am.”

Arizona’s got some fighting to do as a team now. Sitting last in the division with 40% of the rotation injured isn’t where this group expected to be at the halfway point.

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