Diamondbacks can’t find run support behind stellar start from Blake Walston vs. Marlins

May 26, 2024, 6:15 PM | Updated: 10:55 pm

Starting pitcher Blake Watson was "more than efficient" in his first MLB start on Sunday. (Photo by...

Starting pitcher Blake Watson was "more than efficient" in his first MLB start on Sunday. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Recently called up pitcher Blake Walston was excellent on the mound but the Arizona Diamondbacks struggled to provide run support in a 3-1 loss to the Miami Marlins on Sunday at Chase Field.

In his first start in the majors, Walston — who said he was “kinda calm actually” coming in — held the Marlins scoreless over 4.2 innings in which he assaulted the strike zone to force weak contact from Miami hitters.

“Blake, for me, was more than efficient. It looked like he was getting a little loose with his stuff. I don’t like to clip a starting pitcher that early, but I wanted to handle him with care,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said postgame. “He did his job, stepped off the mound and kept us in the game.”

“They were a super swing-heavy team so I knew that if I just attacked with my off-speed and my best stuff that I should be alright,” Walston said.

Of Walston’s 65 pitches, 46 were for strikes. He struck out four batters, all of whom were swinging. Lovullo had pinpointed Walston’s aggressive approach as the reason he earned the start on Sunday over other prospects, such as Tommy Henry and Cristian Mena.

“His ability to attack the zone with a variety of pitches … but player development has really enjoyed his growth so far,” Lovullo said pregame. “We just wanted to see what Blake would be able to do, and this is a good opportunity for him.”

He took advantage of the opportunity, but it will take time before Walston’s conditioning is up to the challenge of a longer outing.

“I had to eat a couple energy gummies, like in the third inning, the adrenaline started coming down I felt, and I ain’t (pushing) it again,” Walston joked postgame.

Lovullo added that he could see things start to look a little worse on the back end.

“I was just gonna be situational at the 18-batter mark. I was gonna watch him very closely, and batters 17-18 it started to get a little loose, and I just felt like he had done his job. Emotionally, it’s a big ticket. You’re starting your first major league game, so I’m sure he was a little bit exhausted emotionally.”

Walston made his debut out of the bullpen on May 1 against the Dodgers when he came in for a roughed-up Jordan Montgomery. He gave up two runs on three hits over 3.2 innings with 42 strikes in 79 pitches, but hadn’t made a major league appearance since.

Wild 7th inning for D-backs’ defense

In the seventh inning with the score still 0-0, D-backs reliever Kevin Ginkel appeared to bait Miami’s Bryan De La Cruz into an inning-ending double play.

Kevin Newman was unable to make the throw to get the first out, allowing the first Marlins run of the day to score.

“Tried to make the play at second base, obviously just a little too far for Blaze (Alexander) over there, and (we) weren’t able to get the out and they scored,” Newman explained. “I don’t think it slipped out, I think it was just a bad throw. Tough angle, but a play I really wanna make.”

Later in the inning, a wild pitch from Ginkel brought runners over from first and second to second and third.

Then, Newman was unable to make a grab over his outstretched arm as two more runs came in, proving to be the difference.

Offense continues to grind through slump

The Diamondbacks mustered just one hit through the first four innings and although they found five more over the final five innings, they were never in position to hang a crooked number and pull ahead.

“Offensively, we couldn’t get anything going,” Lovullo said postgame. “It’s causing me a great deal of frustration because our guys are good hitters. … And when you’re walking up there and you’re thinking little, big things happen.”

“We play so many games that the longer you think about it, the more you kinda let it fester, so flush it and we’ll come back out there ready to go,” Newman added. “If I had any answer, I’d probably be sharing it with the guys, but you know, baseball’s tough sometimes.”

One hitter who personifies the grind is Corbin Carroll, who has six hits in his last 35 plate appearances, but four have been triples. On Sunday, he was the only run Arizona scored following his triple and a fielder’s choice.

“I can’t (explain the slump), and that’s what’s causing me that frustration,” Lovullo said. “They are proven hitters and they are very solid workers, and I wish I could just snap my fingers and have an answer and tell you it’s gonna get better tomorrow, but it’s not gonna get better until we make it get better.”

Road trip coming up for D-backs

After an off day on Monday, the Diamondbacks are wheels up for a two-game series against the defending World Series champion Texas Rangers and a four-game series at the New York Mets.

“I talk about balance here. I want these guys to go out and relax their minds and their bodies and come out and be really hungry on Tuesday,” Lovullo said. “It’s the defending World Series champions, we’re going into their building, and they’re gonna be tough. We gotta be ready.”

First pitch on Tuesday against the Rangers is at 5:05 p.m. on the Arizona Sports app and 98.7.

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Diamondbacks can’t find run support behind stellar start from Blake Walston vs. Marlins