What happened as D-backs blow save vs. Cardinals? ‘We’re all frustrated’

Jul 24, 2023, 11:38 PM

Andrew Chafin...

Relief pitcher Andrew Chafin #57 of the Arizona Diamondbacks is removed by manager Torey Lovullo #17 during the ninth inning of the MLB game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Chase Field on July 24, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Diamondbacks 10-6. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The frustration continued for the Arizona Diamondbacks Monday night as a blown save led to their fifth consecutive loss, 10-6 against the St. Louis Cardinals at Chase Field.

St. Louis tagged Arizona with five runs in the top of the ninth inning charged to southpaw Andrew Chafin, who had two strikes on six straight hitters but recorded only two outs.

The D-backs erased two deficits to climb back on top 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh. Pinch hitter Evan Longoria brought home two runs on a go-ahead double.

But the Cardinals knocked out the Diamondbacks with a bases clearing double by Tyler O’Neill off Kevin Ginkel after a pitching change.

“We did everything we could to get ourselves back into the game offensively with the big hit by Longo,” manager Torey Lovullo said postgame. “We didn’t execute on the mound, we didn’t throw strikes in some critical situations and we gave up some big hits in big moments.

“Of course there’s some decision making that I made that I’ve got to evaluate and I will. I know there’s always the opportunity to second guess and think through things a little bit differently and look at it from different angles. … We’re all frustrated. We know what’s going on.”

The D-backs set themselves up for their 26th comeback victory of the season. Lovullo turned to Scott McGough to face the heart of the Cardinals lineup in the eighth, and he got it done 1-2-3.

Chafin entered to face the bottom third, all right-handed hitters.

The lefty has some reverse splits this year with a .618 OPS allowed vs. righties and .742 OPS against lefties.

Lovullo explained he turned to Chafin knowing the Cardinals had left-handed pinch hitters on the bench to counter a righty, anyway.

Paul DeJong singled to leadoff the frame, a 69 mph flare. Chafin walked pinch hitter Willson Contreras and allowed a single to leadoff man Brendan Donovan.

The bases were loaded for Paul Goldschmidt, who homered in the first inning of his return to Chase Field.

Nolan Arenado was on deck, but Lovullo stuck with Chafin.

“It’s easy to say ‘Put in a righty,’ but their splits, if you’re looking at their splits directly, they don’t hit lefties as well,” Lovullo said. “I know Arenado was 4-for-9 off Chafin, I have a lot of information in front of me. But I wanted the ball on the ground, and I felt like the ball would be put on the ground with Chafin. That was the bottom line.”

Goldschmidt and Chafin battled, but on the seventh pitch of the at-bat, the first baseman slashed a 3-2 slider below the zone into left field to tie the game.

Chafin struck out Arenado swinging to bring up left-handed outfielder Lars Nootbaar. Chafin had him 1-2, but Nootbaar worked the count and took a sinker just low for ball four and an RBI.

Lovullo said he wanted to give Chafin the opportunity to dig out of the hole, but he brought in Ginkel after the walk.

“I wasn’t executing pitches to the degree I was trying to,” Chafin said. “We had the team on the ropes and it was my job to go shut it down and I didn’t get it done.”

Arizona’s bullpen now has 18 blown saves this year, four this month.

This July has been a struggle for the entire team, as pitching and offense has failed to sync up. That applies to the bullpen, which entered Monday with the third highest ERA this month at 6.44 with a 5.27 FIP (fielding independent pitching).

Arizona’s relievers have surrendered at least four runs in four of their last five games, including Sunday’s bullpen game (four runs allowed after the score was tied 3-3).

The Diamondbacks had opportunities to pad the lead and take some pressure off Monday night. They stranded 11 runners on base and were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. But the D-backs got the big hit when it counted most to pick up starter Ryne Nelson, who allowed five runs in six innings on Monday. The defense did its job.

They’re just struggling to put a complete game together and have fallen to 5-13 this month.

“When one of us struggles, we all struggle, it doesn’t matter,” Longoria said. “I get the big hit tonight, there’s been moments where other guys have gotten big hits late in games and then we don’t end up closing out the game for whatever reason. … The challenge is when things get bad like this not to blame others, not to look at your teammates and start to single guys out or single groups out and say, ‘I’m doing my job, but these people are not doing their job.’

“That’s kind of the death spiral of a team. That’s the challenge right now is to not do that, continue to put faith in the guys who are going to the plate in front and behind you and the guys who are going out on the mound. That’s really all you can do.”

D-backs’ comeback

The D-backs’ comeback started early after falling behind 2-0 after the first two batters on Monday’s game.

Goldschmidt obliterated a high fastball on the eighth pitch of his first at-bat. The ball smacked off the home run line in center field, an estimated 444-footer.

It was the eighth home run he’s hit against the D-backs after getting traded after the 2018 season.

Arizona rebounded with a run in each of the next two frames to tie the game.

Geraldo Perdomo walked, Ketel Marte singled him to third and Corbin Carroll hit a sacrifice fly for an efficient first run. Alek Thomas poked an RBI single the other way to score Emmanuel Rivera with two outs in the second inning.

Nelson didn’t help himself out with a leadoff walk in the fourth, which Jordan Walker followed with a double Carroll stopped on a dive. A sac fly and single brought the two runners home.

Arenado, who entered Monday’s game with 30 career homers against the D-backs, hit a solo shot to left in the fifth to go up 5-2.

Nelson lasted six innings and 87 pitches with five earned runs, eight hits, three walks and one strikeout.

“They were checking off his secondary stuff really well today,” Lovullo said. “Maybe he was changing arm angles or something on secondary stuff they were seeing. … When you throw 96 and you’re checking off the secondary stuff with a good load, it makes me think that something was going on.”

The D-backs got a run back on a Christian Walker solo home run in the fifth inning, his 21st of the year. Perdomo was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the sixth, but Marte bounced out to strand three runners.

Walker and Rivera each picked up their second hits in the seventh to set up Longoria, who split the left-center field gap on a slider by Giovanny Gallegos.

Merrill Kelly returns

Lovullo said pregame Kelly was most likely going to start Tuesday night, and he confirmed that note after the game.

Kelly was placed on the 15-day injured list with a blood clot on June 27.

He will match up with St. Louis lefty Steven Matz.

First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and 


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