Diamondbacks stay in rut offensively, cannot solve Padres’ Dylan Cease

May 3, 2024, 11:10 PM

Ketel Marte...

Ketel Marte #4 of the Arizona Diamondbacks safely slides in to second base ahead of the throw to Ha-Seong Kim #7 of the San Diego Padres during the second inning at Chase Field on May 03, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The turning point of Friday’s Arizona Diamondbacks 7-1 loss to the San Diego Padres was clear, when the game shifted from pitcher’s duel to blowout at Chase Field.

D-backs starter Slade Cecconi was perfect through three innings, and while the offense had not scored yet, it was making Padres right-hander Dylan Cease work deep counts.

Cease got through the third inning with seven pitches — two first-pitch outs by Corbin Carroll and Blaze Alexander. Cecconi said he got to sit down for a minute.

Padres leadoff man Jurickson Profar worked an eight-pitch walk, and that’s when Cecconi made what he called two mistakes that blew the game open.

Fernando Tatis Jr. and Jake Cronenworth went back-to-back, and while that was not the end of San Diego’s (17-18) scoring, it was all the offense needed.

“We made two outs on two pitchers in the bottom of the third inning,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “Even though (Cecconi) was cruising, it was a quick hurry-up offense to get back out there. So those are the little things that bother me.”

“I felt good … I know I made two very obvious mistakes,” Cecconi added. “Left a fastball middle in a hitter’s count to Tatis, he didn’t miss it. I missed with a changeup down the middle to Cronenworth, he didn’t miss it. But outside of that, I felt like the rest of the outing went how we planned it. … Some things I need to work on obviously to be ready for Cincinnati and we’ll just take it with our chin up.”

Cease gave San Diego 6.2 innings with one earned run and eight punch outs, as the Diamondbacks (14-19) finished the game with three hits, no walks and 10 strikeouts. Eugenio Suarez drove in the lone run on a single in the fifth.

Cease — who had 17 whiffs Friday, including 10 with the slider — has been a critical offseason pickup, as five of his last six outings have been quality. He was hitting 99 mph on the gun even 100 pitches in.

“We’ll tip our cap to him. I don’t want to take any credit away from him. But to get to where we’re going, we got to find a way to beat pitchers like this,” Lovullo said.

San Diego’s 2-through-4 hitters finished 7-for-14 with six RBIs after Manny machado took Matt Bowman (D-backs debut) deep. Arizona’s 2-through-4 hitters went 1-for-10.

The offense has scored 14 runs over the past eight games, failing to reach five runs in any of them.

“I don’t know, I think sometimes we come out hot and our offense is solid and their pitcher makes an adjustment to us and we might be a little late to the draw,” Lovullo said.

“I think they’re making quality judgments on us and we’re letting them back into some at-bats. It’s all a learning experience. We got some youth, we got some new players, they need to tie it up together one through nine and link it up. When they do, it’s gonna get fun to watch.”

There are no other teams with four 12-run games, but it has been streaky. These past two weeks have been tough sledding for hitters the Diamondbacks need to get going, namely Carroll (.103 since April 20), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (.184 since April 20) and Gabriel Moreno (.207 since April 20). They went 0-for-10 with four strikeouts on Friday.

“There’s gonna be times this year where those guys got my back,” Cecconi said. “They’re going to turn it around. Cease, look what that guy just did. It’s not always the bats, sometimes a guy goes out there and gives you seven unbelievable innings and I think that’s what happened.”

Cecconi looked dominant through three innings, pumping 98 mph in the opening frame before his velocity progressively decreased. He blew away Tatis and Cronenworth with heaters during their first at-bats, and mixed in his slider and changeup to avoid hard contact early.

The right-hander allowed three earned runs in his first 15 innings this season before the fourth.

“There were just two key mistakes and that’s kind of the story I think today,” Cecconi said.

When do the D-backs play next?

Lovullo was direct postgame, saying his team was outmanaged, outhit, outpitched and outcoached. He also said Saturday is a new day, and Brandon Pfaadt will have an opportunity keep his upward momentum going with three straight starts of two earned runs or fewer. Right-hander Michael King will pitch for San Diego.

First pitch is at 5:10 p.m. on 98.7 and the Arizona Sports app. 

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