D-backs erase 6-run deficit but fall to Giants in extra innings
PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks are in full spoiler mode for the final two months of the season, sporting the worst record in Major League Baseball while playing in arguably the toughest division in the league.
The team was close to playing spoiler for what appeared to be an easy win for the division-leading San Francisco Giants on Monday night at Chase Field, responding from giving up five runs in the fifth inning and erasing a six-run deficit to send the game into extra innings.
Arizona couldn’t complete the spoiler effort, falling in 10 innings 11-8.
“We’re playing with a lot of heart and a lot of effort,” manager Torey Lovullo said via Zoom after the game. “Our guys kept fighting … it tells me the story of this team that just doesn’t want to shut down and doesn’t want to quit for 27 outs.
“Our record is not even close to where we want it to be and when you block that out every night … to go out and give the effort that they have, I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Taylor Widener took the bump for Arizona and gave up five runs – all earned – on five hits in 4.1 innings, but that pitching line doesn’t tell the whole story.
Widener was cruising through the first four innings but hit a speed bump in the fifth.
The only damage against Widener prior to the frame was a two-run home run off the bat of Mike Yastrzemski in the third inning.
He would go on to retire six of the next nine batters.
That’s when things fell apart for Widener.
Following a leadoff strikeout of the pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, he allowed back-to-back walks to Yastrzemski and Kris Bryant and gave up a base hit to Brandon Crawford.
That loaded the bases and resulted in him getting the hook after tossing 98 pitches.
Reliever J. B. Bukauskas came in and didn’t provide much help to Widener’s line, walking Buster Posey for one run and giving up a grand slam to Alex Dickerson to clear the bases. A strikeout of Darin Ruf and a groundout by Steven Duggar stopped the bleeding.
“I know it’s tough having to watch somebody else give up a couple of your earned runs but I felt like he (Widener) was teetering on that out of gas line,” Lovullo said.
“I think up to the fifth inning, he was throwing the ball effectively. I mean, there were some strikeouts but I know that he’s probably a little frustrated by the outing and I know he’s capable of more. We’ll get him there.”
While it was the third straight start Widener has allowed five runs without completing five innings, the previous two coming against Pittsburgh and Texas, he felt better about this outing.
“It’s definitely a step forward from last week,” Widener said, adding he had better mechanics and was throwing more strikes.
“I still got some things to work on, still trying to clean up some things, and I’m feeling better and I just got to keep doing what I’m doing and just keep improving and get back where I was.”
Widener had a 2.82 ERA across four starts in the season’s first month before hitting the injured list with a groin strain.
The D-backs offense woke up in the bottom half of the fifth inning against DeSclafani, who had held the team silent through four innings with the exception of a passed ball for an unearned run in the third inning.
Arizona answered the Giants’ five-run frame with a four-spot of their own, coming off a pair of two-run home runs from Josh Reddick and Asdrubal Cabrera.
The long balls drove DeSclafani from the game with a line of five runs allowed – four earned – on seven hits in 4.1 innings and marked the first time this season the D-backs have figured out the veteran righty.
DeSclafani came into the game having won both his starts against Arizona and pitching to a 1.98 ERA, including pitching 8.1 innings on July 4 and only allowing two runs.
The Giants would get one of those runs back on a home run by former D-back Wilmer Flores in the sixth inning.
Arizona’s offense would respond again an inning later, beginning the frame with singles by Kole Calhoun and Ketel Marte before Cabrera walked to fill the bases up with D-backs.
It appeared the Giants may squeak out of the frame with limited damage after Carson Kelly’s fly ball was too short for a sac-fly and Drew Ellis’ groundout only scored one.
However, Christian Walker stepped up to the plate and provided one of the bigger hits for the D-backs this season as he lined an RBI double down the left field line to score Marte and Cabrera to tie the game at eight runs apiece.
Scoreless frames out of the pen from Brett de Geus and Tyler Clippard sent the game into extras but Miguel Aguilar allowed three runs to score on two hits in the 10th inning as the D-backs offense couldn’t respond for a third time in the bottom half.
The Giants, the best team in baseball based on winning percentage, have been a difficult nut to crack for Arizona this season.
The win marks the team’s 10th in 11 tries this season against Arizona. It was also the 18th time in 21 games the Giants have beat the D-backs going back to last season, the best record for a team against a single opponent in the majors in that time span.
Arizona will have more opportunities over the next two weeks to play spoiler for the division-rival Giants and San Diego Padres.
The two teams, along with the Los Angeles Dodgers, are battling each other for the NL West division crown and subsequent Wild Card spots.
The D-backs are in the midst of a 16-game stretch against the three teams and have five more against the Giants and seven against the Padres in that time span. Arizona dropped two of three to Los Angeles over the weekend and will play the Dodgers twice in September.
Madison Bumgarner will toe the rubber for Diamondbacks in game two of the four-game series on Tuesday against Johnny Cueto.
First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m. and all the action can be heard on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.