Diamondbacks keep finding ways to lose, swept by Dodgers to fall under .500
Aug 9, 2023, 11:28 PM
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX — Through another comedy of errors and misfortune, the Arizona Diamondbacks found themselves on defense with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning of a 0-0 game with Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder David Peralta at the dish.
Peralta, a Diamondback for more than eight seasons, ripped a fastball into right field off lefty Kyle Nelson to bring home two runners.
Arizona didn’t have a response, getting shut out for the third time in 10 games and falling 2-0 at Chase Field. The D-backs fell below .500 for the first time since the opening week of the season and extended their losing streak to eight games.
The Diamondbacks have been in almost each game of this losing streak, minus a 12-1 loss against the Twins. Every other defeat has come by two runs or a single run.
Before the game, manager Torey Lovullo said it gives the coaching staff fits when the team does not “win the margins” on a given night, and now those instances have piled up over the course of six weeks. Lovullo said they’ve done just enough to lose baseball games, which he called unacceptable.
“When we are playing games the way I expect us to, the baseball 101 concepts are locked down,” Lovullo said postgame. “I’ve been having to defend some of the activities that show me we are not executing on a high level in that area. That is what bothers me more than anything.”
Although much of Wednesday’s contest was a pitching duel between Merrill Kelly and L.A. rookie Bobby Miller until Kelly exited in the seventh inning due to a right leg cramp, the Diamondbacks left runs on the board with lack of execution at the plate and on the bases.
In three innings, they had multiple runners on base with less than two outs — twice with no outs — and did not score.
Lovullo shuffled up the lineup on Wednesday, and the bottom of the order set the table with runners on second and third and no outs after a Geraldo Perdomo double in the fifth.
Corbin Carroll, Ketel Marte and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. struck out, lined out and struck out in sequence against Miller, who got Carroll and Gurriel to chase low sliders.
With runners on first and second in the seventh, Lovullo called for a bunt with Perdomo at the plate.
Reliever Caleb Ferguson threw a 96 mph fastball up that Perdomo attempted to put in play. He popped it up, and Ferguson made a diving catch for the out. Alek Thomas wandered too far off second base and was doubled off. Carroll grounded out to end the inning.
Dodgers reliever Caleb Ferguson just laid out to catch a bunt mid-air then doubled up the runner at second pic.twitter.com/iVF23rO7MZ
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) August 10, 2023
Lovullo said Thomas had to see the ball down before taking off.
Perdomo had previously popped up a bunt Friday against the Minnesota Twins with runners on the corners and one out in the ninth inning down by a run. He had two bunt attempts go foul during the at-bat in which he doubled.
“I’m looking for guys to lock it in the most critical moments, want to step up there and get the job done, expect to get the job done,” Lovullo said. “Those are themes that we talked about from spring training. We rehearsed it, we watched these guys execute. The fact that we’re not getting it done is extremely frustrating.”
Kevin Ginkel replaced Kelly mid at-bat with nobody out in the seventh and got through it, so Lovullo kept him in. He got the first two outs in the eighth inning when Lovullo turned to the bullpen with Dodgers star first baseman Freddie Freeman coming up.
Nelson entered for a lefty-lefty matchup. Freeman, however, has been great this season against southpaws, even better statistically than he is versus righties.
He entered Wednesday with a 1.115 OPS and 12 home runs against left-handed pitchers. Plus, he was 3-for-4 against Nelson with a home run, two singles and a walk.
The first strike Freeman saw was pummeled into right-center field 100 mph off the bat for a ground-rule double. Arizona intentionally walked righty Will Smith to get to lefties Max Muncy and Peralta, the former of whom walked on a seven-pitch at-bat.
“It looks like the absolute most craziest stupid move a manager can make when the next four hitters get on base, but I loved the matchups with Kyle Nelson against three of the next four lefties,” Lovullo said.
“I was looking to keep the ball in the ballpark. I’m gonna go left on left. I know he was 3-for-4 off Kyle Nelson with a home run and the splits are fairly even. I just liked our guy in that situation to go out there and get Freddie out. I didn’t want to worry about the next several, but I felt like if it got to Muncy and Peralta there were some matchup advantages that were created. He got clipped.”
David Peralta delivers against his old team! Dodgers break the scoreless tie in the eighth pic.twitter.com/TpYbhjeAQP
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) August 10, 2023
Peralta came up for the second time with the bases loaded after grounding into a double play in the fourth inning. He fell behind 0-1 before watching a pair of sliders miss outside. But the 35-year-old finally got a fastball over the middle and delivered the game-winner.
“I was just trying to calm down and try to do my job. I had an opportunity the first time and didn’t do it. So I was like, ‘I gotta do something this time,'” Peralta told reporters.
Kelly faces demons
The Dodgers have had Kelly’s number throughout his career. He entered Wednesday with a 5.45 ERA and no wins against them in 14 career starts.
Kelly came out aggressive on Wednesday, getting ahead with the fastball early and throwing in a heavier dose of changeups that L.A.’s lineup had trouble with.
The Dodgers had a couple innings of traffic on the base paths, but Kelly kept the D-backs even despite getting no run support from the offense.
“I think there’s no mystery on how I fared against the Dodgers since I’ve been here, hasn’t been very good,” Kelly said. “So tonight was one of those times I just wanted to come out and be aggressive, assert the fact that I was not going to not going to shy away from them. … Hopefully that would get them off the secondary pitches later in the game. Also just the first couple of innings, I felt pretty good. I felt like the fastball was coming out of my hand pretty well.”
He was at 83 pitches when he walked off the field with the athletic trainer, forcing a premature pitching change that put in motion the chain reaction.
Kelly and Lovullo said they were not concerned about the cramp moving forward, saying it was unrelated to the blood clot in the same leg that landed him on the injured list for a month.
Lovullo was confident Kelly will make his next start, no problem.
Merrill Kelly spoke with reporters after leaving tonight's game with a right hamstring cramp. pic.twitter.com/pys6XI5U5i
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) August 10, 2023
Glimmer of hope (scoreboard watching)
Kelly said he’s proud of his teammates for not hanging their heads during this stretch, noting that the close games mean they are not far off.
He said their continued proximity to a playoff spot provides a glimmer of hope for the clubhouse to work toward, as Arizona remains 2.5 games back of the third National League Wild Card spot.
The Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs and most recently Miami Marlins have all claimed the third spot just this week.
Zach Davies update
Diamondbacks right-handed starter Zach Davies will start for Triple-A Reno on Thursday. It has not been determined how many rehab starts Davies will need.
He’s been on the injured list with lower back inflammation since July 19.
In another pitching development, the D-backs signed 2016 All-Star and ERA title winner Aaron Sanchez to a minor league deal, and he was assigned to Triple-A Reno, where he started on Wednesday.
D-backs take on Padres next
The Diamondbacks host the San Diego Padres for a three-game series Friday-Sunday.
This weekend is the club’s 25th anniversary celebration with nearly 60 former Diamondbacks set to attend. The D-backs will wear throwback uniforms to celebrate.
It’s a major series in the wild card chase, as the Padres are two games behind Arizona and on a four-game losing streak. Something has to break.
First pitch on Friday is at 6:40 p.m., and all three games can be heard on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.