Late rally not enough for D-backs to snap losing streak now at 8 games
PHOENIX – Baseball can be a cruel game sometimes. It’s felt that way for the Arizona Diamondbacks a lot lately.
Wednesday night was no exception.
For the second straight evening, Arizona rallied late. And for the second straight evening, the game ended with the bases full of D-backs and Nick Ahmed striking out. The Rockies won by a final of 5-4 on Tuesday. Tonight it was 8-7.
“I don’t want to rest on the fact that we’re playing good baseball late,” Torey Lovullo explained. “We’ve got to find a way to put that thing in gear earlier, and go out and play an Arizona Diamondback-brand of baseball. We’re going to get there. We’ve got to find a way to go out and start taking care of business and expecting to win baseball games.”
The loss is the Diamondbacks’ eighth in a row, and this one may have coincided with Robbie Ray’s last game in an Arizona uniform. He won’t make another start before Major League Baseball’s trade deadline on Monday, and he’s arguably the most likely name on the roster to be dealt.
If this was Ray’s last game, at least he went out in vintage Robbie Ray fashion.
The enigmatic lefty struck out eight while allowing only two runs, lowering his ERA for the season. That’s the good news. But the bad news is he walked six guys and only lasted four innings. And that ERA? It’s still at 7.84 for the year.
He also threw 99 pitches, putting him on a 223-pitch pace over nine innings. Not ideal.
“Felt like the command was way better, second inning on,” Ray pointed out. “But overall, that first inning just came back to bite me with so many pitches.”
Ray wasn’t the reason the D-backs lost this one, though. At least not directly. A taxed bullpen surrendered six runs to Colorado over five innings, putting Arizona in an 8-1 hole heading into the bottom of the eighth. And once again, the bats went missing for large chunks of the evening.
They did come to life late in this one at least, beginning in the eighth. Starling Marte tripled home a run and Christian Walker doubled home another to trim the deficit to 8-3.
Two more runs came home in the ninth as well, before Walker stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. Continuing his recent hot streak, he ripped one off the left field wall, missing a walk-off grand slam by less than a foot.
“You could feel the momentum building,” Walker said. “Even the last few times through the lineup leading up to that point, I felt the at-bats were really solid on everybody’s part. We were just passing the baton, getting it to the next guy. Put ourselves in a position to make a great comeback and have a great rally, unfortunately it was just a little bit short tonight.”
Walker’s single made it 8-7, but Ahmed took a third strike that may have been a bit outside to end the game.
With the loss, the Diamondbacks are now 13-19 on the year. That puts them last in the NL West, and general manager Mike Hazen has some tough decisions to make.
On one hand, his team entered this season with lofty expectations, and they’re still sitting just two and a half games back of a playoff spot because of the 16-team postseason format this year. Do they really want to be sellers at the deadline when they’re that close?
On the other hand, they’ve lost eight in a row. Worse yet, they just don’t look right. It’s hard to imagine them as buyers. They had scored 12 runs over their previous seven games, prior to tonight. And even in this one, they had just one run on three hits through the first seven innings. They still haven’t hit a multi-run home run since Aug. 18, and they look every bit the part of a team that is desperately searching for anything positive to build off of.
A walk-off Walker grand slam would’ve done the trick.
-Riley Smith made his Major League debut in the eighth, but not under the easiest circumstances. Stepping onto the mound with runners on first and second and no outs, he managed to strike out Trevor Story. Nolan Arenado singled into shallow left next though, and then Charlie Blackmon hit a grand slam that is still in orbit somewhere over Queen Creek right now.
-The Diamondbacks will look to avoid a four-game sweep Thursday when Zac Gallen takes the mound. First pitch is at 3:10 pm.