Diamondbacks explain intentional balk, bullpen game decisions in loss to White Sox

Jun 15, 2024, 11:38 PM

Jake McCarthy...

Jake McCarthy #31 of the Arizona Diamondbacks attempts to catch a two run home run hit by Andrew Vaughn #25 of the Chicago White Sox during the fifth inning at Chase Field on June 15, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Between early stranded runners, an extended strike zone and a bullpen game that got away, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 9-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox was all kinds of frustrating.

Manager Torey Lovullo had enough in the eighth inning, as home plate umpire Nick Mahrley ejected Lovullo for voicing his displeasure about “a lot” of missed calls.

Perhaps the most peculiar moment was when the D-backs (34-37) dropped the ball.

It was the third inning, Arizona was up 1-0 but the White Sox (19-53) had longtime MLB catcher Martin Maldonado standing on second base with two outs. Andrew Vaughn was at the plate.

Lovullo went to the mound with a clear instruction for pitcher Thyago Vieira: Drop the ball.

Why did the Diamondbacks intentionally balk?

“Maldonado is very crafty, and he was giving signs. He was 9-for-9. He didn’t miss one,” Lovullo said. “So we picked up on what his habit was. … We just felt like it was too risky.

“I definitely didn’t want to have the hitter knowing what was coming and possibly put up a crooked number.”

Vieira was using PitchComm, which makes picking signs more difficult, but Maldonado was peeking inside the pitcher’s glove for his grips.

Lovullo said that is something the club works on in spring training, but Vieira is new. He was claimed off waivers less than 10 days ago. They went over fixes between innings, but in the moment, the call was to move Maldonado up 90 feet and attack the hitter clean.

“Maldonado was doing his job, I want to make sure I state that loud and clear,” Lovullo said. “Everybody’s on it. Kevin Newman came down and said, ‘Heads up. He’s 6-for-6,’ and we watched it happen three more times. … Everybody can see it. That’s the first thing you do when there’s a man at second base.”

Added context: Maldonado’s spring speed would be in the negative percentile if that was an option.

So when Vaughn punched a base hit into center field, it is hard to imagine Maldonado scoring from second. Instead he waltzed in to tie the game.

Chalk it up to something you don’t see everyday.

White Sox slug vs. Diamondbacks bullpen game

Why Vieira was in the game is more relevant to the defeat, as the D-backs used Scott McGough as an opener but decided to roll out as many righties as they could against a lineup with no lefties. Southpaw Tommy Henry was Arizona’s bulk option, and he did not pitch until the sixth inning.

This was a tough game to manage, but the arms held up enough through five innings to at least keep the Diamondbacks in it at 4-1. McGough allowed one run, Vieira gave up a solo shot to Paul DeJong and Bryce Jarvis a two-run homer to Vaughn.

Then came the crossroads.

Henry and Justin Martinez both warmed up in the bottom of the fifth when the D-backs cut the deficit to 4-2, but without a lead or a tied game, Lovullo opted to continue piecing it together without his top-end relievers.

“They clearly stacked up the righties knowing Tommy was going to get the bulk of the work,” Lovullo said. “We had budgeted enough of our right-handed relievers to get in there and stay right the whole way. We had a chance to definitely do that, but selling out to it in a game we were not ahead in wasn’t something I was willing to really explore. Sometimes you gotta be mindful of what’s gonna happen tomorrow, as well.”

The decision did not work out. Henry escaped his first inning but walks and home runs plagued the rest of his night. Chicago tagged him with five earned runs in four innings. Three walks directly led to three runs, as the trio scored on separate homers by Lenyn Sosa and Korey Lee.

Martinez, Kevin Ginkel, Joe Mantiply, Ryan Thompson and Paul Sewald were all left in the bullpen in a bullpen game. They will be fresh for Sunday.

Diamondbacks have off night getting the big hit

On offense, a tough moment for the club came in the second inning with the bases loaded and one out.

Corbin Carroll had the table set, but a season-long trend of high strikes called against him continued. Mahrley rang him up on a pitch up-and-in, and Ketel Marte bounced out to end the threat.

It was not the last chance Arizona had to string some runs together, but once the game was blown open, that was that.

White Sox starter Erick Fedde went 6.0 innings with two earned runs.

Five D-backs hitters had two hits each: Carroll, Marte, Jake McCarthy, Eugenio Suarez and Geraldo Perdomo. Carroll’s two hustle doubles (leading to runs) were the only extra-base hits for Arizona. Hard to win when a team is out-homered by four.

Series finale

Jordan Montgomery takes the mound Sunday at 1:10 p.m. before Arizona hits the road. White Sox prospect Drew Thorpe will make his second MLB start.

Catch the game on 98.7 and the Arizona Sports app. 

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