Diamondbacks’ Ryne Nelson crushed by Twins as starts continue to be a mixed bag

Jun 26, 2024, 10:59 PM

Ryne Nelson...

Ryne Nelson #19 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Chase Field on June 26, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Mike Christy/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mike Christy/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Twins ran up the score on Arizona Diamondbacks starter Ryne Nelson, chasing him in the fourth inning of an 8-3 Minnesota win at Chase Field on Wednesday.

The Twins finished 10-for-20 against Nelson to tag him with six earned runs and make Wednesday’s game noncompetitive early.

It quickly became apparent Nelson’s command would not look quite like it has for much of June (3.75 ERA). He entered Wednesday coming off back-to-back wins with 13 innings and three earned runs.

But middle-middle misses were punished by Minnesota, and two hit-by-pitches in the second inning did not help. The Twins scored three in the second, another in the third and two in the fourth. Nelson exited after Carlos Correa recorded his third hit of the game, an RBI double to take a 6-0 lead.

“I think there were just some mistakes they capitalized on, and falling behind in counts,” Nelson explained. “I think they worked some good at-bats and got some pitches to hit. They didn’t miss them. … I didn’t feel like I had the best command today. Sometimes it’s like that. You got to find a way to grind through it and I just didn’t get the job done today.”

Nelson has yet to put three consecutive quality starts together in his career (43 starts), and most of his outings this year have been feast or famine.

He has four starts with at least 6.0 innings and two or fewer runs (three in June) and four others in which he did not record an out past the fourth inning — excluding injury.

“I think it’s maturity,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “I think there’s some middle ground. You’re going to have some starts that are going to be lights out and you’re going to pitch into the seventh, eighth inning at times which he’s done. And then there are those grinders where you just got to find a way to make pitches and keep your team in the game.

“He’ll figure that out. He’s going to find a way to give us five innings and four runs or pitch into the sixth inning with four runs. … It’s about making pitches and just saying, ‘Oh, this is where it stops right now. I’m going to keep my team in the game and I’m going to control what I can control.”

Lovullo said pregame he was encouraged by Nelson’s recent performances and adjustments. He explained how important it is to challenge young pitchers to push through a poor start and come through the next time out. The D-backs will need Nelson to continue making progress as they rely on him with banged up starters.

Seven of the last nine Diamondbacks losses have come by five or more runs. That’s the volatility the D-backs are playing with as three-fifths of the rotation remain out. Zac Gallen coming back as soon as Saturday will provide some alleviation, but the opportunity remains for younger starters to step up with Merrill Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez yet to begin throwing off a mound.

Offensively, the Diamondbacks were out-hit 14-4 on Wednesday. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit an RBI triple and Christian Walker drove in a run with a double, but the team finished 4-for-29. Joc Pederson was thrown out on a double steal attempt in the first inning with one down, and Arizona failed to score. Lovullo felt that was a noteworthy moment in a tied game before the Twins broke it open.

Twins starter Simeon Woods Richardson went 5.1 innings with three earned runs.

Lovullo made sure to shout out reliever Thyago Vieira for going 2.1 scoreless innings in relief to save much of the bullpen for Thursday’s series finale.

Odd trend

The Diamondbacks have lost six straight second games of series and 13 of the last 18 such games.

The D-backs were 3-15 in series openers but turned that around with seven straight wins. For whatever reason that trend has transfered over to the second game, setting up lots of rubber matches.

Hey, look over there

Over at Triple-A Reno, D-backs prospect Deyvison De Los Santos hit a 463-foot home run and followed with an opposite-field grand slam to lead the Aces to a win. Alek Thomas got seven innings of work in center field, and pitcher Cristian Mena struck out eight in five innings.

Diamondbacks-Twins finale

Arizona left-hander Jordan Montgomery will get the ball in Thursday’s rubber match at 12:40 p.m. The Twins will run out David Festa, the organization’s top pitching prospect, to make his MLB debut. 

The game will air on 98.7 and the Arizona Sports app. 

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