Execution, errors plague Diamondbacks in early weeks

PHOENIX – A disciple of the baseball gods, manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks preaches the ultimate path to victory is good pitching and solid defense. Through the opening two weeks of the season, the starting pitching for Arizona has been surprisingly good.

Yet, the fundamentals have not measured up to the starting pitching.

Enter Exhibit A, the travesty which turned into Sunday’s debacle. Coming into play the week of April 25, Arizona is tied with the Chicago White Sox for the most errors in the majors, and that fundamental aspect of the game is beyond troubling. Counting three errors, two hit batters in the same inning, and a shaky bullpen on Sunday, those elements all added up disaster.

The Diamondbacks appeared to be on the verge of a rare positive moment. Having split a series in Washington and on the precipice of taking this past weekend’s series from the New York Mets, that prospect evaporated like an ice cream cone in the searing desert heat.

Instead, Arizona fell in a forgettable 6-2 decision to the visiting Mets before 23,570 in Chase Field. The loss dropped the Diamondbacks to a season mark of 6-10 and the reality of facing difficult division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers for the next three games.

Elements of failure continue to weigh heavily on Lovullo, who manages to retain a politically correct disposition through these challenging times.

“There is a very fine line between execution and that will lead to win and execution that will lead you to losses,” Lovullo said after Sunday’s game. “There are certain plays defensively that are unacceptable. We have to tighten it down. We lead (the National League) in errors. We have to figure that out and we will.”

Such evidence was displayed through the first batter of the game.

The Mets’ lead-off hitter Mark Canha hit a bouncer to third. The ball eluded Sergio Alcantara and rolled into left field. Canha took second and scored on a single to center from Francisco Lindor. After Christian Walker tied this one with a monster home run with one out in the fourth, that’s when the execution of fundamental baseball eluded the Diamondbacks.

Two walks, two batters, and a single led to two New York runs in the seventh and two hits, including J.D. Davis’ first homer of the season and another error by Alcantara, produced two more Mets run in the eighth.

“Everyone here wants to win,” said Madison Bumgardner, who started for Arizona and turned in five effective innings. “Everyone wants to make all the plays, and everyone is trying to do that. This is a frustrating game sometimes, and it doesn’t always go your way. No one is more frustrated than the guys who it’s happening to, and I take pride in trying to pick up them up.”

Down by those four runs with two at-bats left, the Diamondbacks could manage only a one-out single from Alcantara in the eight and went down one-two-three in the ninth.  

Elsewhere … Walker’s home run traveled 467 feet, the second-longest blast of his career, and the third-longest this season. Only Mike Trout of the Angles (479 feet) and Kyle Schwarber of the Phillies (468 feet) have been longer in 2022. … the current homestand wraps up with three against the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the series opener Monday night, right-hander Merrill Kelly (1-0, 0.59) opposes Walker Buehler (1-1, 4.02). On Tuesday night, it’s righty Zack Davies (1-2, 5.02) taking on righty Tony Gonsolin (1-0, 0.69). In the series finale Wednesday afternoon, look for righty Zack Gallen (0-0, 1.00) to face lefty Julio Urias (1-0, 3.00). Then, it’s on to St. Louis for four and three in Mami against the Marlins. The Diamondbacks return home to face Colorado beginning Friday May 6.

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