D-backs bullpen squanders 2 home runs by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. vs. Nationals
May 7, 2023, 7:16 PM | Updated: 7:16 pm
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen spoiled a great performance from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and a solid start from Ryne Nelson in a 9-8 loss to the Washington Nationals at Chase Field on Sunday.
“This game teaches you lessons every day,” said Arizona manager Torey Lovullo. “… There were so many things that happened prior to the ninth inning that put us in a situation to allow that to happen.”
Leading 7-3 with one out in the seventh inning, the D-backs replaced lefty Joe Mantiply with righty Kevin Ginkel.
Ginkel proceeded to allow back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases. Nationals catcher Keibert Ruiz grounded into a fielder’s choice which allowed the runner on third, former D-back Illdemaro Vargas, to score.
Joey Meneses drove in Lane Thomas with an RBI single. Ginkel was pulled in favor of lefty Kyle Nelson after allowing two runs and recording just one out.
Nelson was able to halt the damage at two runs for the Nationals in the inning.
After Arizona added a run on a Jose Herrera fielder’s choice later in the inning, Nelson stayed in for the eighth. He was able to get through the inning without allowing an earned run, but former D-back Stone Garrett was able to score after he reached third base on a throwing error by D-backs second baseman Ketel Marte.
After not scoring a run in the bottom of the eighth, Arizona went into the ninth inning up 8-6.
The D-backs called upon righty Miguel Castro in a save situation. Castro, pitching for the third day in a row, proceeded to give up a double to Luis García which Gurriel struggled to see in the lights, a single to Ruiz and a three-run home run to Meneses without recording an out to blow the save.
“That was a big ask for Castro,” Lovullo said. “Within our model, he was available and he looked like he had good stuff. Four pitches, they score three runs – you can’t predict that. I think the bullpen’s going to be fine.
“We’ve got some guys who have thrown the ball well – Mantiply and (Kyle) Nelson. I just think the guys who aren’t and need to got to start to figure some things out. And they’ll get that done. That’s how this game is. They get coached up and they go out and execute. So, how do we fix it? Just continue to create the right matchups and give guys the right opportunities.”
It was the second game in a row in which the D-backs blew a multi-run lead in the ninth inning. And unlike Saturday’s game, where Arizona came back to win on a Pavin Smith walk-off walk, the D-backs were unable to score in the bottom of the ninth. The Nationals took the one-run victory and Arizona failed to complete the sweep.
The bullpen’s day overshadowed a great performance by Gurriel.
The D-backs’ left fielder, who tied Saturday’s game with a solo home run in the ninth inning, had another strong day at the plate. He went 2-for-3 with two home runs and two walks. He drove in four runs and scored four times.
Gurriel now has five home runs on the season and is hitting .310. He has four home runs in his last three games. His fifth home run, which tied his total from the 2022 season, came in his 112th at-bat of the year. He hit five homers in 453 at-bats for the Toronto Blue Jays last year.
Ryne Nelson had one of his best outings of the season, giving up two earned runs over five innings of work. It was just the second time all season he gave up fewer than three earned runs.
“It’s getting there,” Nelson said. “Still definitely some stuff to work on and got to put guys away in big spots and give the team a better chance to win.”
The D-backs start a three-game series with the Miami Marlins at 6:40 p.m. on Monday. D-backs ace Zac Gallen (4-1, 2.53 ERA) gets the nod against Marlins lefty Braxton Garrett. All the action can be heard on the Arizona Sports app, 98.7 and ArizonaSports.com.
D-backs first baseman Christian Walker spoke on what the team needs to do to bounce back on Monday.
“Acknowledge that we scored a lot of runs and be happy about that,” Walker said. “There’s things to celebrate in this game. Just be aware that the game’s never over no matter what the lead is or even if we’re down by a lot. It’s a good example of fight until the end and still giving the team a chance to win.”