Not the start Lovullo, players envisioned

In rock ‘n roll lore, J. P. Richardson was known as The Big Bopper. On the night of Feb. 3, 1959, Richardson, along with icons Richie Valens and Buddy Holly, perished in a plane crash and later, musician Don McLean’s referred, in 1971 song, that hour as “the day the music died.”

While Richardson gained fame with his guitar, Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo believes this team contains a few big boppers. Those are the kind of baseball players destined for game-changing events and lifting baseball out of ball parks.

On the eve of the current season, Lovullo told reporters during Zoom chat his team is more than capable of putting up crooked numbers, generating a great offense and his “big boppers” spraying baseballs around the confines of any stadium. During the initial series of the season, the Diamondbacks have shown little in the way of that kind of offense and proceeded to drop three games of a four-game set to the San Diego Padres.

“This wasn’t typical Diamondbacks baseball, whether it be on the mound or some of our at-bats,” Lovullo told the AP after Monday’s 6-2 defeat in Petco Park. “Trust me, we’re having consistent reminders with these guys about certain things. They’ll figure this one out.”

After those four contests, the Diamondbacks are hitting .195 as a team and only the Pittsburgh Pirates (.192) have a lower collective team average. Plus, Arizona has only one home run in through the opening four games and was produced by Kole Calhoun, during the seventh inning on opening night last Friday. The team’s eight RBIs for the four games is tied for last in the NL with the Colorado Rockies and four of position player starters are each hitting under .133.

As if the offense was struggling, the rotation seems to have dropped off a cliff. In the four games against the Padres, the starters had a combined 7.02 ERA, allowed 17 hits and 13 runs, all earned, in 16.2 innings of work.

Of the only win to date, that was a 4-3 victory on Sunday and closer Archie Bradley was credited with the win. If the Diamondbacks were to even their season record on Monday, right-hander Luke Weaver was sent to the mound. Instead of filling the role of a stopper, Weaver endured the opposite. In just 3.1 innings of work, Weaver allowed seven hits and six runs, all earned. Afterward, he took nothing positive from his opening outing of the season.

“It ended up being an abomination,” Weaver told the AP after his loss. “The first three innings, I was grinding a little, had a guy on base every inning. Just kind of fought against those first-pitch strikes. For whatever reason, I wasn’t able to land them.”

All of which points to a struggling team and a club which did not lack confidence and self-assurance less than one week ago.

Next …

Now, it’s off the Arlington, Texas a two-game set with the Texas Rangers.

Right-hander Merrill Kelly (13-14, 4.42 ERA for 32 starts last season) opens the series and draws right-hander Kyle Gibson (13-7, 4.84 ERA, 29 starts for Minnesota in 2019)  as his opponent. The short series concludes on Wednesday afternoon and then the Diamondbacks open the home portion of the schedule Thursday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Chase Field. The Dodgers are in for four and followed by the Houston Astros for three.