Diamondbacks’ Brandon Pfaadt takes positive step, offense falters in loss to Reds

Jul 22, 2023, 3:52 PM | Updated: 5:06 pm

Brandon Pfaadt...

Brandon Pfaadt #32 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the third inning of a baseball game at Great American Ball Park on July 22, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jeff Dean/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jeff Dean/Getty Images)

Rookie starter Brandon Pfaadt gave the Arizona Diamondbacks his longest outing in the big leagues, but the offense went quiet in a 4-2 loss against the Cincinnati Reds Saturday afternoon at Great American Ballpark.

The D-backs (54-45) relied on Pfaadt, despite a rocky start to his MLB career (9.82 ERA in 25.2 frames), with Merrill Kelly and Zach Davies on the injured list.

Through five scoreless innings, he sat at 72 pitches, 53 for strikes. The RHP retired 16 straight Reds hitters, allowing only one hit through the first two rounds of the batting order.

Pfaadt was tested early: A single, error by 2B Ketel Marte and hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with no outs in the first. Cincinnati blew the game open on Friday with a grand slam, but Pfaadt struck out a pair and forced a groundout to escape the jam.

He got the fastball up and in, found success with the sweeper and changeup and missed bats with 14 whiffs in five innings.

This high-and-in heater to Reds rookie Christian Encarnacion-Strand came after a low changeup and low-and-in sweeper to set up a defensive swing.

An adjustment caught by the MLB broadcast cameras was his placement on the rubber. He was closer to the first-base side than before when he set up more closed. Pfaadt still had his misses over the middle through five, but he was much more effective getting the fastball away from Cincinnati’s wheelhouses.

The Reds got to him eventually, though, touching him up with back-to-back-to-back jacks in the sixth inning.

TJ Friedl clubbed an 0-2 fastball up and out of the zone over the wall in right. Matt McLain, who hit the aforementioned grand slam Friday, got ahead 2-1 and didn’t miss a sinker on the inside corner. Jake Fraley followed with a homer to right on a fastball on the inner half.

The Reds last hit three consecutive homers on July 13, 2022, when Kyle Farmer, Mike Moustakas, and Stuart Fairchild went deep at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s a tip your cap situation,” Pfaadt said. “I thought they were good pitches. We stuck with our game plan. There’s a lot of takeaways.”

Pfaadt has now allowed 12 home runs in 31.2 innings.

Pfaadt’s final line: 6 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 Ks

“I’m going to highlight the good things he did,” Lovullo said. “Getting out of that first inning gave him that push for the next five. He made some statements out there.”


From nearby Louisville, Kentucky, Pfaadt had a large cheering section at the ballpark. “I definitely heard them a few times,” he said.

His run support on Saturday was absent, as Arizona scuffled against Reds rookie southpaw Brandon Williamson.

The lefty went six innings with one run and three hits allowed. He was perfect through three innings and did not allow a hit until Evan Longoria doubled in the fifth.

The D-backs had a runner in scoring position in the fourth and fifth innings with less than two outs and didn’t capitalize. They finally broke through in the sixth after a Jake McCarthy double and Marte RBI single. Marte stayed hot after hitting two home runs on Friday.

Reds OF Will Benson made a diving catch to rob Corbin Carroll of a hit, and Marte was caught stealing to avoid any more damage.

Williamson held Arizona to an average 85.3 mph exit velocity with no balls hit 98 mph or harder.

“I got ahead a lot,” Williamson said. “That’s the name of the game. I don’t want to say I was oblivious to the hitters (but) I just threw my pitches and let it work.”

Carroll homered in the top of the ninth off closer Alexis Diaz, his 20th big fly of the season.

Alek Thomas came up as a pinch hitter and the game-tying run with two outs, but Diaz struck him out to end the game. The D-backs face a second sweep on this road trip Sunday.

Arizona’s offense entered Saturday’s game having scored at least five runs in four straight contests.

Saturday was another game the D-backs failed to sync strong pitching with offense. Arizona is 3-4 this month when it scores five runs and 4-5 when it allows five or fewer runs.

The Diamondbacks are 5-11 in July and 2-6 on this road trip with the trade deadline is just over a week away on Aug. 1.

Chafin sets D-backs record

Andrew Chafin pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the D-backs in his 378th career appearance with the club.

That surpassed Brad Ziegler for most games pitched in franchise history.

Chafin pitched for the D-backs from 2014-20 before getting traded, and he returned this past offseason. He is one of four D-backs relievers with at least 40 outings this year.

Moreno update

Diamondbacks catcher Gabriel Moreno was scratched from the starting lineup because of discomfort in his left shoulder. Carson Kelly caught until Moreno entered the game in the eighth.

Moreno is is hitting .333 with a double and a homer since the All-Star break.

What’s next

The Diamondbacks cap their nine-game road trip Sunday at 10:40 a.m. against the Reds.

Former D-backs RHP Luke Weaver will pitch for Cincinnati, while Arizona has not named a starter. Utilizing a bullpen game is an option.

Catch first pitch on 98.7, or the Arizona Sports app. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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