Soria implodes in the ninth inning; D-backs losing streak reaches 9
PHOENIX – Arizona Diamondbacks’ closer Joakim Soria blew the team’s first save attempt since May 10, giving up four hits and three runs in the top of the ninth inning in an 8-7 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday afternoon.
This was Soria’s first blown save of the year and his third loss. The D-backs have now lost nine in a row and 23 out of their last 25 games.
“Some situations where the balls coming out of his hand good, but there was just mistakes in the middle of the zone,” Manager Torey Lovullo said via Zoom on Soria’s outing. “We know how effective he is with landing pitches in the right spot at the right time. Today there were some mistakes in the middle of the zone.
“I know he’s not trying to throw the baseball there. If there’s another situation where he’s landing those pitches in the right spot and maybe has some weak contact, we’d get some quick easy outs. But that wasn’t the case.”
Utility man Josh Rojas hit two solo home runs in the loss and first baseman Christian Walker, who has struggled at the plate since returning from an oblique injury on May 29, was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored.
The D-backs finally put together the big offensive inning that Lovullo had been seeking, plating five runs in the third inning for their most runs in a single inning since a matchup with the New York Mets on June 2.
The big inning started with a single from Stephen Vogt. With two outs, Pavin Smith walked and Eduardo Escobar singled to bring in Vogt.
Walker followed it up with his second hit of the day, an RBI single, and David Peralta brought everyone home with a two-run RBI double. Peralta then moved to third on a Josh Reddick single and scored a run by way of a Nick Ahmed RBI single that gave the D-backs five runs in the inning.
Rojas added a solo dinger off relief pitcher Jose Suarez in the seventh for some breathing room. Arizona had a tough time against Suarez in relief, getting just two hits against the 23-year-old lefty.
“People say our offense is struggling, but I don’t feel like we are,” Rojas said postgame.
“I think there’s times when we miss opportunities, we could be better,” Rojas said. “But the last week or so you look at our games and we’ve put together good at-bats.”
Meanwhile, D-backs starting pitcher Caleb Smith was dialed in for his fourth start of the season. His primary weapons were a four-seam fastball that touched 92 MPH and a formidable slider that kept Angels hitters off balance.
Smith allowed one base runner per inning worked the first time through the rotation and into the second, which included two walks of outfielder Justin Upton, but he then got himself into some trouble in the fourth.
The D-backs starting pitcher then allowed a leadoff home run to third baseman Anthony Rendon that landed in the Arizona bullpen. With two outs in the inning, he gave up a double to outfielder Juan Lagares who scored on a Phil Gosselin pinch hit RBI single.
Smith, who continues to be a reliable starter for this team that is in dire need of stability with the starting rotation, had his day ended early by his pitch count.
He put in 4.1 innings of work and allowed four earned runs on five hits, two of which scored after he left the game. He threw 65 of his 103 pitches for strikes, logging six total strikeouts with three walks to Upton.
“Caleb threw up those zeros, and we were trying to get him through that fifth inning. But it was time to maneuver at that point of time and matchup and try to keep that lead where it was,” Lovullo said.
Once Smith left the game with two runners on, relief pitcher Taylor Clarke allowed both runs to score on a two-run RBI double by Rendon.
The Angels added a run in the eighth on a sac bunt by Kean Wong, but the real damage came against Soria in the ninth.
Down by one, Jared Walsh started the inning with a leadoff double off Soria, who scored on a sac fly by Rendon, followed by a Max Stassi single. Jose Iglesias would give the Angels the lead with an RBI double that scored Stassi, and he would then score on a Taylor Ward double.
Rojas added a solo home run in the ninth, his second of the day, but the rest of the offense was shut down for yet another heartbreakingly close loss.
“I think teams can sense when you’re lacking a little bit of conviction and you’re hoping for things to come. We need to eliminate that hope. That’s where we’re at right now. We got to believe and get it done,” Lovullo added.
“We’ve got to go out and execute at the high level and expect to have good outcomes.”
Jon Duplantier will take the mound for Arizona against the Angels on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m.
In three starts this season for the D-backs, Duplantier is 0-2 with a 10.03 ERA, 12 strikeouts, and a 1.800 WHIP.