Given the perception and expectation of this team, perhaps a repeated dose of dramatics might be out of the realm of probability.
After Jarred Dyson’s pinch two-run, walk-off homer Monday night, the Arizona Diamondbacks had difficulty picking themselves off the mat in the series finale against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night, unable to flash that miracle smile and pull out a lucky charm. After staking starter Robbie Ray to an early lead, the bullpen allowed the Rangers back in this one and Texas ultimately came away with a 5-2 victory before 15,871 in Chase Field.
In what could develop as a disturbing pattern, the Diamondbacks showed no power in the middle of the lineup, and that’s a consequence which several pointed out during spring training. The number three hitter in the lineup (David Peralta), number four (Christian Walker) and number five (Ketel Marte) went collectively 2-for-12, and Walker struck out in all four plate appearances.
“Not one of our best efforts,” manager Torey Lovullo told Fancred after the game. “I thought we left some runners on base in scoring position and got a little over-anxious at times. If you make several mistakes in the course of a game, it will cost you.”
If the hitting failed at critical times, the bullpen was equally disappointing. Reliever Archie Bradley, a steady and reliable force in Lovullo’s bullpen, give up critical hits at critical times. In the seventh, Bradley was called upon to shut the door. Instead, the allowed a two-out, RBI single by Delino DeShields up the middle which broke a 1-1 tie, and then Hunter Pence slammed a homer off Bradley over the right-center field fence with two out in the eighth.
While the Diamondbacks collected but six hits and one extra-base hit (a double from Peralta in the third), starting pitcher Robbie Ray managed to keep Arizona in the game. Leaving the contest at 1-1 in the sixth, Ray began his third start of the season with acute sharpness and economy of pitches. The lefty threw a first-pitch strike to the first 11 hitters in succession to start the game and needed only 42 to get through those 11 hitters.
In going five innings plus two hitters in the sixth, Ray surrendered only three hits, walked and fanned 10 hitters. After his third start of the season, Ray allowed three or fewer hits in each of these starts and that’s the longest streak in franchise history. The 10Ks was the 17th time in his career Ray reached double digits in strikeouts.
By his own admission, Ray is a strikeout pitcher and that quality carries a plethora of strikes that elevates a pitch count, By the time he finished the fifth and faced the first two hitters in the sixth, Ray’s pitch count reached 95 (60 for strikes) and at that point, Lovullo went to the bullpen.
“Felt really good and fast ball command was as good as it was all year,” Ray told Fancred. “Slider and curve was really good, too. They put together some good at-bats but overall, I felt strong and really good. I was around the zone and they had some tough at-bats. In the end, I felt I did what I could to give us a win.”
Roster moves …
With the continued desire to carry three catchers, the Diamondbacks recalled catcher Caleb Joseph from Triple AAA Reno before Wednesday’s game with the Rangers.
After Alex Avila was placed on the DL with a strained left quadricep on April 7, the idea to carry three catchers continued to permeate. After a few days with John Ryan Murphy and Carson Kelly as back-stops, the decision to return to the three-catcher system.
“This is a product of the system we have here with three catchers,” Lovullo told Fancred before Wednesday’s game with Texas. “We want to get that third guy in here, give us the ability to maneuver a little and be caught short-handed. The decision we made (after Tuesday’s win) was to get back to the three-catcher system.”
The evaluation was made in concert with Avila’s injury, which promoted Lovullo to add, “there is no indication to the time Alex will be gone.”
Reason for the move …
The move to increase the catcher population to three was made in concert with the corresponding move to send pitcher Jon Duplaniter back to Triple AAA Reno. Rated as Arizona’s number two prospect by MLB.com (80 overall) and the club’s number two (86 overall) by Baseball America, the need here is to stretch out Duplaniter as a starter and not languish in the Diamondbacks bullpen.
“It’s one of those classic questions of what’s best for the player or best for the organization,” Lovullo told Fancred before Wednesday’s game. “We have to understand that we are interrupting his development and he had not been stretched out. He is someone we will look to and lean on as a starter here in the future. We felt the best thing for him, and his development would get him out and get him starting again.”
The San Diego Padres came into Chase Field for the weekend and a four-game set that starts Thursday night. In the series-opener, look for Zack Godley (1-1, 6.55) opposes San Diego right-hander Pedro Avila, just recalled from Double AA Amarillo. The series continues with night games Friday and Saturday and a Sunday matinee.