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Diamondbacks drop series finale to Seattle Mariners

Seattle Mariners shortstop Donovan Walton, center, reaches over to tag out Arizona Diamondbacks' Josh VanMeter, left, at second base as umpire Rob Drake, right, looks on during the fifth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Despite a solid outing from starting pitcher Luke Weaver, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ offense was held in check by the Seattle Mariners’ bullpen in a 7-3 series finale loss at Chase Field on Sunday.

Third baseman Josh VanMeter was 2-for-4 with an RBI double and a walk while second baseman Josh Rojas walked three times and scored twice in a game where six of the 10 runs scored were base runners who walked.

Weaver made his first career start against the Mariners, coming off an excellent appearance against the Los Angeles Dodgers where he only allowed two runs in four innings.

“I think in Luke’s case today, he wasn’t winning that first pitch battle,” said manager Torey Lovullo after the game. “I think overall the entire day, we weren’t winning that first pitch battle.”

“They scored several runs with leadoff walks, and that’s the name of the game. You got to throw strikes and swing at strikes, and you can see that when we do it well it yields us base runners on the offensive side and when we don’t from a pitching standpoint it can lead to some quick, easy runs.”

Both teams took advantage of walks in the first, with the Mariners’ Kyle Seager walking and scoring on a Jose Marmolejos RBI double, and the D-backs bringing in leadoff man Rojas with a VanMeter double that Seattle centerfielder Dylan Moore was unable to track down.

The Mariners struck again in the second inning after Weaver walked leadoff hitter Phillip Ervin, who reached third on a Dee Strange-Gordon single and scored on a fielder’s choice.

Weaver entered the game allowing only one walk or fewer in his last six starts, but he was burned early by the walks he allowed in this start.

In the bottom half of the inning, D-backs catcher Daulton Varsho put himself in scoring position in a similar way with a walk and two stolen bases that eventually led to the bases being loaded, but the D-backs were unable to convert the opportunity.

The D-backs had another opportunity in the third inning after David Peralta doubled with one out, but Nick Ahmed was absolutely robbed on a liner back up the middle by Mariners second baseman Strange-Gordon.

“The big part of the day for us was that we did a good job of building some innings, and put ourselves into a position to strike and put up some crooked numbers several times and we just couldn’t get that big hit,” stated Lovullo.

“We couldn’t cash-in at the right time with the right guys up in the right spots.”

Even without the run support, Weaver had a strong outing for Lovullo and the D-backs. The 22-year old righty went five innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits with three strikeouts and three walks allowed.

“I thought it was a little sloppy at first, just kinda grinding through the flow of the game, the rhythm, some mechanical stuff,” said Weaver when asked how he felt about his outing.

“But I think when the third hit, I just knew I had to get back into attack mode and was able to do so and make a really big pitch there in the fifth and get to five and keep my team in the ballgame.”

Two more walks in the sixth inning by Travis Bergen in relief of Weaver to Marmolejos and Ervin led yet again to more runs from a Donovan Walton 2-RBI double.

The D-backs got back two runs in the bottom of the seventh that started with a Pavin Smith single, the second hit of his young career. He later scored on a fielder’s choice that brought them within two. Rojas also scored in the inning on a Kole Calhoun sac fly.

But in the eighth, relief pitcher Junior Guerra let the lead get back to three after giving up a pair of singles to Marmolejos and Evan White, followed by an RBI double to Ervin. White scored on a wild pitch by Guerra a few batters later.

The bullpen had posted a 1.50 ERA in its last four games, but they gave up four earned runs in four innings of work in this one.

The loss also means the organization will experience their first losing season under Mike Hazen as GM and Lovullo as manager.

“It pisses me off,” said Lovullo. “I don’t like to lose at anything, I know that entire room doesn’t like to lose at anything, and it means we got to be better.”

“But we’re going to keep fighting until the end. Even though our record isn’t going to be what we want and it’s not something that we’ve ever grown used to nor will we ever grow used to that, we got to play our best baseball day by day and see where it takes us at the end of the year.”

After an off day, the D-backs will travel to Anaheim for a three-game series with the Angels. First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 40 minutes earlier on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. Arizona has a 14-15 record all time against the Halos and are 7-6 at Angel Stadium.

Madison Bumgarner will make his seventh start of the year and will try to get his first win as a D-back. His last win was as member of the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 30, 2019 against the San Diego Padres. He’s 0-4 this season with a 7.52 ERA. This will be his first career start against the Angels.

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