Try, try, try again; but try as they might, the Arizona Diamondbacks just can’t reach .500.
The mark eluded them once again as the Los Angeles Angels scored five runs in the sixth inning on their way to a 7-1 win in front of an announced Thursday afternoon crowd of 28,942 at Chase Field.
Taylor Featherston and Johnny Giavotella kick-started the offense with second-inning solo home runs to help the Angels earn a split in the brief two-game interleague series.
Aside from Nick Ahmed’s RBI double in the fifth inning, the D-backs had no answer for Angels starter C.J. Wilson, who won his second straight start to even his record at 5-5.
In his first career start against the D-backs, Wilson scattered seven hits over eight innings, while striking out a season-best nine batters.
On the other side, Allen Webster (1-1) experienced an up-and-down home debut.
Through five innings, he kept the D-backs in the game, but then struggled with his command and ran out of gas in the sixth.
Webster went 5.1 innings, allowing six runs on five hits, including a pair of home runs, with five walks and four strikeouts.
The D-backs, who had won five of six, dropped to 0-8 in games in which they had a chance to climb back to .500 since April 24, the last time they were .500 (8-8).
It’s said the double play is a pitcher’s best friend. Webster would agree. He erased a one-out walk in each of the first two innings thanks to the double play ball. First, Webster turned a Mike Trout comebacker into a pair outs, 1-6-3; and later he induced Efren Navarro to hit a ground ball to Paul Goldschmidt, who started the 3-6-3 inning-ending double play.
In his first at-bat following a three-hit performance the night before, Yasmany Tomas drove a 2-1 slider into center field for a ground-rule double as the ball bounced into the seats to leadoff the second inning. It was his only base hit in four at-bats, but he has now hit safely in seven of his last eight games (.303, 10-for-33) and 12 of 14 overall (.345, 19-for-55).
A sharp ground ball up the middle and on into center field put Ahmed on first base to leadoff the third inning. The base hit extended Ahmed’s streak of reaching base safely to nine straight games. Two innings later, Ahmed doubled in the D-backs first run, plating David Peralta who had ripped his own two-bagger in the at-bat prior. Ahmed finished 2-for-3 to raise his batting average eight points to .225.
Showing his range and strong arm in right field in the fifth inning, Tomas ran to his right, scooped up the ball and rifled a throw to second to nail Wilson who was trying to (inexplicably) stretch a two-out single into a double. The play marked Tomas’ first career outfield assist.
Hitting second for only the second time this season, Aaron Hill went 2-for-3 with singles in both the fourth and sixth innings. He has now reached base safely in 11 of his last 13 games against interleague opponents. Hill also extended his overall errorless streak to 28 games.
Webster lost his no-hit bid and shutout two batters into the third inning. Featherston greeted an 89 mph fastball and put the 0-1 offering into the seats in left field to give the Angels a 1-0 lead. One out later it was Giavotella’s turn. He smashed the first pitch he saw over the left field fence and just like that the Angels had a 2-0 advantage. For Featherston, it was his first Major League home run and it came in his 37th big league at-bat.
Webster ran into trouble again in the sixth inning. With one out and a runner on first, Trout hit an RBI triple to make it 3-1 Angels and begin a stretch in which five straight batters reached base safely, including Navarro and Carlos Perez who each drove in a pair with a single and double, respectively. Once the dust settled, the Angels had sent nine men to the plate and scored five runs for a 7-1 advantage.
Of course it should be noted that one of the five runs was charged to Josh Collmenter, who for the first time this season made a relief appearance. The D-backs Opening Day starter was removed from the rotation last Friday and in his first outing out of the bullpen he pitched 2.2 innings, giving up the one run on three hits with one walk (it was intentional) and two strikeouts.
For the first time since May 19, Goldschmidt did not reach base safely, snapping a run of 27 straight games, which had been the longest active streak in the Majors. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Meanwhile, a more modest eight-game streak ended for Chris Owings, who failed to reach base safely in four at-bats. He, too, struck out three times.
STAT OF THE GAME
1-for-9 and 2-for-17: How the D-backs fared with runners in scoring position in the game and the series, respectively
HE SAID IT
“I don’t know if anybody is even thinking about it in there,” manager Chip Hale said, referring to another failed attempt at becoming a .500 baseball team. “We just didn’t play well enough to win and they did. I mean they had a better pitcher today and our guy battled the best he could. We just couldn’t get it done.”
David Hernandez pitched a scoreless eighth inning, giving him back-to-back appearances for the first time since his return from Tommy John surgery
Today’s attendance included more than 6,500 kids from various camps and summer programs throughout Arizona
As part of Throwback Thursday, D-backs alum Brett Prinz threw out the ceremonial first pitch, which was caught by alum Shea Hillenbrand
The D-backs return to action against opponents within their own league and division with a three-game series against the San Diego Padres.
Rubby De La Rosa is scheduled to start the opener on Friday, June 19. He’ll be opposed by 10-year veteran James Shields.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
De La Rosa (5-3) earned the win in his last appearance, an eight-inning scoreless effort on June 14 at San Francisco in which he limited the Giants to eight hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
The victory established a career-high in wins (five) and strikeouts (77).
De La Rosa is 2-0 in three starts lifetime against the Padres, winning both outings this season: April 13 at Petco Park (3 ER in 6.0 IP) and May 7 at Chase Field (0 ER in 7.0 IP).
Meanwhile, Shields (7-0) will be looking to snap a two-game winless streak.
Since his last victory on June 3 against the Mets, Shields received no decisions versus both the Braves and Dodgers despite allowing a combined five runs in 12.1 innings pitched.
Shields is 2-1 with a 6.50 ERA in three career starts against the D-backs, who begin a stretch of 16 straight games against N.L. West teams.
The D-backs are 3-4 (2-2 at home) facing the Padres this season.