PHOENIX — Things were finally running smoothly for Shelby Miller at Chase Field on Tuesday night. They really were.
Then the fifth inning happened.
The struggling 25-year-old righty seemed well on his way to his best outing of the year early on. He essentially cruised through the first four frames, allowing just two singles while striking out five St. Louis Cardinals. But the wheels came off in the fifth, when Aledmys Diaz singled, Jeremy Hazelbaker walked and Stephen Piscotty snuck a two-run double into shallow center that a sliding Chris Owings couldn’t quite come up with.
To make matters worse, Brandon Moss deposited a three-run home run in the right field seats just three batters later.
That was basically it for Miller. He finished off the fifth, but his night was done after that. The Cardinals plated three more in the seventh off of reliever Dominic Leone — fueled by a two-run shot over the center field wall, courtesy of Piscotty. When the dust settled, the D-backs were on the wrong end of an 8-2 final, in front of 19,074 fans.
David Peralta continues to hit the ball hard. He just missed his third home run in five games when he flew out to deep left-center in the first, then he delivered Arizona’s first hit of the night in the fourth.
Miller struck out the side in the third, fanning Carlos Martinez, then catching Hazelbaker and Piscotty looking.
Yasmany Tomas doubled to left in the seventh, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games. He later homered for good measure.
Nick Ahmed made a slick play in the field to rob Martinez of a single in the eighth, bare-handing a slow roller up the middle and firing to first for the second out of the inning.
Jake Lamb uncorked his third home run of the season to break up the shutout in the ninth.
Piscotty’s game-changing double in the fifth was nearly an out, and while no one would consider the play Owings would have had to make in center field a “routine” one, it wasn’t impossible either. It would have been a tough catch, but, if he could have somehow come up with it, there would have been two outs with the score still tied 0-0.
With the leadoff runner aboard and the meat of the order up next, Lamb grounded into a double play to kill a potential D-backs’ rally in the sixth.
The six-run loss is one of Arizona’s most lopsided defeats of the year. Only a 14-6 loss to the Cubs on April 7 was by a wider margin.
STAT OF THE GAME
8.69: That’s Miller’s ERA this season, after the five earned runs he allowed over five innings in this one. He was one of Arizona’s prized acquisitions over the winter, so the organization obviously needs him to find his groove as soon as humanly possible. To be fair, he did look a lot more like the pitcher the Diamondbacks hoped they were trading for through the first four innings tonight. But he still hasn’t been able to put together a quality start since landing in the desert.
HE SAID IT
“We make that catch and it’s a different inning. And, you know, if you don’t throw – you don’t execute a pitch, I should say — if you don’t execute a pitch to good hitters like Brandon [Moss], they’re going to hurt you. And he did. But I was very encouraged by his [Miller’s] velocity and his location. So that was definitely a step forward.” – Chip Hale
• The D-backs have managed at least one extra-base hit in all 22 games this year and have now homered in seven straight.
• David Johnson and Michael Floyd of the Arizona Cardinals threw out the ceremonial first pitches before tonight’s contest.
• Both Johnson and Floyd took part in the Fry’s Catch-A-Ball promotion after the sixth inning. Each of them went 2-for-2 fielding fly balls.
These two clubs will be right back at it again on Wednesday night, for the third of four meetings this week. Patrick Corbin will take the mound for Arizona, while St. Louis counters with Adam Wainwright. First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning at 6:00 on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
Corbin (1-2) will be making his fifth start of the season for the D-backs. He suffered a loss in his last outing – a game in which he yielded four earned runs over six innings in a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Pittsburgh on April 22.
That game marked the second time this year that the 26-year old lefty has surrendered three home runs in a game. He’s been stellar in his other two starts, however, giving up just two earned runs over 12.2 innings.
Meanwhile, Wainwright (0-3) will be looking for his first victory of 2016. The two-time 20-game winner has gotten off to a rough start, posting a 7.25 ERA and 1.75 WHIP over 22.1 innings so far. His most recent action came on April 22 in San Diego, when the Padres got to him for three earned runs over six innings in a game St. Louis ultimately lost 4-1.
The big righty is 6-4 with a 2.36 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 12 career appearances against the Diamondbacks.
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