D-backs frustrated by hitting woes in loss to floundering Rockies
Sep 5, 2023, 11:38 PM
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX — “Tense.” “Disappointed.” “Frustrated.”
Every game for the Arizona Diamondbacks at this point feels magnified in a tight postseason race, and as Evan Longoria put it after Monday’s 3-2 loss to the last-place Colorado Rockies, “We can’t have those lapses.”
The offense jumped on Rockies (51-87) starter Kyle Freeland early with a lead-off triple by Ketel Marte and an RBI single by Emmanuel Rivera. From there it went 4-for-29 and 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Walks and defensive mistakes contributed to Colorado picking up three runs early off Brandon Pfaadt, and the lead held even with a scoreless performance by Arizona’s relievers.
The Rockies’ bullpen entered the game with a 5.30 ERA, the highest in the NL. Yet, the D-backs went 0-for-9 against it on only 30 pitches. It’s a unit the Diamondbacks (71-68) have had success against this year.
Lovullo and Longoria felt there were at-bats with hitters trying to be the hero.
“I think our chase in some critical moments was there. We’re a little too aggressive,” Lovullo said. “The intention is good. Everybody wants to go up there and be the guy offensively but I think we just got to slow the game down, get some kind of leverage, let the ball come to us, realize the pressure is on the pitcher and then go to work. … We just didn’t make any adjustments.”
The manager felt the dugout was tense. The building had a malaise with a modest attendance of 12,994 and not much scoring to cheer about.
Longoria said it is up the the players to bring that energy and not try to do too much.
“Single, steal a base, get a bunt down, get a guy over, drive in a guy with less than two outs from third. Obviously a little disappointed as a group,” Longoria said after an 0-for-4 night. “I’m probably the most mad I have been after a game in a while. I feel like I’m obviously not pulling my weight, I feel frustrated with some of the pitches that I’ve been getting and not producing on.”
The D-backs fell out of the playoff table with the loss, as the Cincinnati Reds regained sole possession of the third National League Wild Card spot with a walk-off win over the Seattle Mariners. Arizona ended the night one game back.
The D-backs have a rubber match with Colorado on Wednesday before a four-game road series with the Chicago Cubs, the NL’s second wild card team after Tuesday’s slate.
Longoria said the team understands what is coming but had to focus on winning a series now.
Shortstop Nick Ahmed was slotted into the eighth spot in the batting order, right behind Corbin Carroll, against a left-handed starter. He came up with runners on base and two outs three times and didn’t execute, going 0-for-4 on the evening.
The veteran has platooned with Geraldo Perdomo for most of the season yet entered the night with a .414 OPS against lefties. That was the lowest in baseball among qualified hitters by a significant margin. Colorado’s Brenton Doyle was next on the list at .488.
Ahmed’s reverse splits are atypical compared to the rest of his career, and Lovullo continues to wait for the flip.
“It’s been a grinding year for him, I know that,” Lovullo said. “He’s good to have on the field. He’s a solid defender. He’s a good baseball player. But I think there’s just a lot of unknowns as to why that’s happening. … I just keep waiting for something positive to happen. Because hitting lefties is definitely a strength of his.”
Arizona’s top prospect, shortstop Jordan Lawlar, hit two home runs on Tuesday and is 9-for-15 in September for Triple-A Reno.
Brandon Pfaadt’s early exit
Lovullo pulled Pfaadt at 70 pitches with two outs in the fourth inning.
Pfaadt was a bit surprised to get the hook, but the first three innings were a grind. He felt that he had quality stuff but fell behind hitters.
He walked lead-off man Charlie Blackmon after a couple close calls went the other way. It came back to bite when he allowed a pair of two-out hits.
The defense faltered in the third inning, as Gabriel Moreno of all players sailed a throw to third base on a steal attempt that let in a run.
Doyle hit a triple to lead off the fourth inning and scored.
Doyle still rules and Charlie brings him home! pic.twitter.com/qItRo9aaEy
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) September 6, 2023
“I wasn’t being aggressive when I needed to be, I think just trying to nitpick again,” Pfaadt said.
Bullpen does its job
The D-backs received 5.1 scoreless innings from the bullpen with one hit allowed and no walks.
Joe Mantiply and Luis Frias got three outs each, and Lovullo turned to Andrew Saalfrank for his MLB debut.
The southpaw got all five of his hitters out with two strikeouts, and Lovullo was boo’ed when he took Saalfrank out of the game.
He was at 27 pitches.
“Got ahead of guys, tried to finish them late, got some, didn’t get others,” Saalfrank said. “Executing early in counts and tried to stay in my counts and go from there.”
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 6, 2023
Ryan Thompson got the final four outs.
Lovullo heard the boos and certainly some heckling after that.
“Somebody, a foul ball came in the dugout like a half inning later, he was still mad that I took out Salfraank. He’s like, ‘I wish that ball hit you, Torey.’ … The fans are beautiful.”
Zach Davies will take the mound for Arizona in the final meeting between the NL West opponents on Wednesday.
He has allowed two runs in 11 innings since returning from the injured list (back).
Chris Flexen will pitch for Colorado.
First pitch is at 12:40 p.m. on ESPN 620 AM, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.