As uplifting as Friday’s 11-7 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals was, Saturday’s 6-2 loss was just as disappointing.
Season-long issues regarding the durability of the team’s starting pitching, inconsistent hitting and bullpen performance plagued the Diamondbacks in their afternoon contest against the Cardinals.
Robbie Ray (2-3) lasted five innings, giving up two runs, one earned and walking four batters. Ray’s command looked off from the get-go after he threw over 30 pitches in the first inning, walked two batters and then gave up a two-run home run in the second inning to Jed Gyorko.
A questionable decision regarding Ray happened in the top of the fifth inning. St. Louis was holding a slim 2-0 lead, and the D-backs had runners on the corners with two outs. Instead of pulling Ray and throwing a pinch hitter out there with two outs to try and score Welington Castillo from third, manager Chip Hale elected to hit Ray. The pitcher grounded out into a fielder’s choice.
Hale’s decision to leave Ray out there might be due to the team using more of its bullpen during Friday night’s hectic five-run ninth inning by the Cardinals. But, essentially giving up a chance at an RBI in what was a close game at the time, is definitely a head-scratcher.
If the offense was performing how we saw in spring training, Hale’s decision to sacrifice a chance at a run in the fifth inning could have been justified. However, there continues to be a growing issue of inconsistency with this team.
Arizona failed to get a runner in scoring position until the fifth inning, but Hale did not pinch hit for Ray. The only other time the Diamondbacks had runners in scoring position was in the ninth inning when they scored two runs, and had bases loaded for Jean Segura. Arizona had two innings where their batters were sent down 1-2-3, and only had two innings where the team hit more than one base hit, the fifth and ninth innings.
The team’s bullpen did not make things any easier. Jake Barrett allowed one run in the sixth inning, and Andrew Chafin gave up three runs in the seventh inning. The Diamondbacks are tied with the most bullpen innings in the majors with 158.2 innings.
The Diamondbacks will lean heavily on Zack Greinke in the rubber match Sunday, however, Greinke’s first meeting against the Cardinals this season did not go very well. The right-hander gave up seven runs to St. Louis in Arizona. But, Greinke has performed exceptionally better on the road, posting a 2.25 ERA with a 2-0 record away from Chase Field versus a 6.63 ERA and 2-3 record.