Bumgarner dominant as D-backs finish 2020 season with win over Rockies

Sep 27, 2020, 3:08 PM | Updated: 5:41 pm
Arizona Diamondbacks' Madison Bumgarner delivers a pitch against the Colorado Rockies during the fi...

Arizona Diamondbacks' Madison Bumgarner delivers a pitch against the Colorado Rockies during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks’ turbulent 2020 season came to an end Sunday on a high note with an 11-3 win against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Sunday’s finale had everything the D-backs were expecting of their team when entering the season, a dominant outing from their new ace and an offense that took advantage of opportunities.

Madison Bumgarner tossed five scoreless innings allowing two hits while striking out four and walking none on only 66 pitches, 43 of which were strikes.

The offense, meanwhile, gave their lefty starting pitcher two runs right away in the first inning and added four more in the third inning.

Arizona put the game out of reach with a run in the sixth inning and four more runs in the seventh inning.

Kole Calhoun, who signed a two-year deal in the offseason, hit his 16th home run of the year and drove in three of the team’s runs.

Ketel Marte also grabbed three RBIs, while Nick Ahmed and Carson Kelly both had two RBIs and Daulton Varsho added one RBI.

The team was 5-for-13 on the day with runners in scoring position and chased opposing pitcher Kyle Freeland after just 2.1 innings, tagging him with six earned runs on eight hits.

Caleb Smith, Yoan Lopez and Riley Smith kept the Rockies to three runs the rest of the way home, with all three runs being charged to Lopez.

Sunday’s game was about as perfect as it could be, problem is games like Sunday were few and far between in 2020 for the D-backs en route to a last-place finish in the National League West with a record of 25-35.

“I’m battling through some frustration right now, I’m not going to lie,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said in a Zoom call with the media after the game. “We should not be going home today, that’s my mindset and I think everybody in that room feels the same way.”

After the acquisitions of Calhoun, Bumgarner and Starling Marte, along with the expanded playoff format, the D-backs looked like a good bet to make the postseason.

Inconsistent performances and injuries both at the plate and on the mound derailed the D-backs in 2020, including a stretch in which the D-backs lost 18 out of 20 games.

The Opening Day starting rotation of Bumgarner, Robbie Ray, Zac Gallen, Luke Weaver and Merill Kelly were credited with only nine of the team’s 25 wins, Bumgarner’s first coming on Sunday.

Bumgarner and Kelly both suffered injuries, with Kelly only making five starts before his season was ended prematurely due to a shoulder injury.

Weaver struggled to find consistency, while Ray couldn’t find his footing this season and was eventually traded to Toronto at the trade deadline.

Gallen was by far the team’s bright spot in the rotation, possibly the entire team, finishing with a 2.75 ERA in 12 starts.

Key players with the bat also didn’t produce as much as in the past.

Eduardo Escobar finished the year with a batting average hovering around the Mendoza line and Ketel Marte only hit two home runs while also missing time with a wrist injury.

Glass half full for the D-backs, however, is things started to turn in the right direction as the shortened 60-game season came to a close, starting with Bumgarner, who ended the season with 10 consecutive innings not allowing a run.

The offense also went in a positive direction to end the season, with the D-backs finishing top-five in the National League in batting average, runs, home runs and OPS since Sept. 15.

Arizona in that time went 8-4 and finished the month of September with a record of 11-14 after starting the month with a 3-10 record.

Lovullo said he isn’t placing complete blame for the lack of offense on the quick ramp-up prior to the start of the season,  adding the struggles aren’t going to be overlooked for the positives witnessed at the end of the season.

“We staggered for 20 games and I want to find out why and how that happened,” Lovullo said. “We’ve got to address that.”

He gave credit to young players like Varsho, Wyatt Mathisen and Pavin Smith as reasons the offense has come around as of late, along with veteran hitters finding their swing.

“There was an infusion of young hitters that were controlling at-bats and finding themselves on base quite a bit,” Lovullo said.

Despite the positives, the fact of the matter is the D-backs will be left on the couch watching October baseball in a year they were expected to participate in the playoffs.

That leaves Lovullo and general manager Mike Hazen, who both suffered their first losing season in 2020, with questions to address in order to get back to where they thought they would be entering the season.

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