PHOENIX – For a team in rather desperate straits, the Arizona Diamondbacks, these days, display little emotion or response. Coming into Friday’s game with San Diego at home, the club has lost eight straight and fell below the .500 mark.
While players like pitcher Merrill Kelly insist no player has quit, no player is moping around in the clubhouse, and post-season play remains on the horizon, a sense of purpose, drive, and emotion is clearly absent.
Dropping their ninth in a row, they fell to San Diego 10-5 before 26,210 Friday night in Chase Field. That left the Diamondbacks with a precarious one-game lead over the Padres in the National League West division and the teams play six additional games through next weekend.
The lack of intensity and emotion is without notice. After the latest debacle, field manager Torey Lovullo alluded to this vital dynamic. While not clearly referencing “emotion,” he turned the conversation into why things have turned sour so quickly.
“I look for us to be a little more dynamic through the course of an at-bat,” he said in referencing the offense. “If a pitch is not there, take it, have the ability to take a two-strike approach, and have an all-field approach. When you create that dynamic aspect, you become unpredictable. Here, pitchers start to make mistakes. I think we’re slowing coming out of this but looking similar day after day from an offensive standpoint. We have to make some adjustments and I’ve been talking about this in the post-game for several days now. We’ll break out. Coaches are coaching as hard as I’ve seen and we have to get this thing turned around, somehow, some way.”
The start of the game Friday night put the Diamondbacks down a familiar rabbit hole. So ineffective was starter Ryne Nelson, Lovullo pulled his starter after three innings. With an elevated pitch count and allowing a pair of homers and triple, Nelson exited with 73 pitches over his three innings of work. That included a 26-pitch second inning and 34 pitches in the third.
“This was a frustrating one for all of us, myself included,” he said softly. “The game is not treating us very well, right now. Personally, I feel better than I ever have and it’s just not quite showing up.”
From the first hitter, Nelson pitched from behind. Lead-off hitter Ha-Seong Kim fouled out to the catcher but worked Nelson on an 8-pitch at bat. From there, Nelson’s pitch slowly rose and he threw a combined 60 pitches in the second and third innings. Within this space, the Padres put up six runs and a pair of two-run homers from Xander Bogaerts in the second and Jake Cronenworth in the third quickly put this game out of reach.
By the time Lovullo pulled Nelson after only three frames, the 25-year-old tossed those 73 pitches and tagged for six runs.
“I never felt this game was unraveling at all,” Nelson said. “There was some soft contact again that set up things in the beginning. Some balls that did not go right at guys. Unraveling is probably not the way that I would say.”
Remainer of the weekend … the Diamondbacks attempt to break this nine-game skid on Saturday with their ace. That’s when Zac Gallen (11-5, 3.37) takes the mound against veteran lefty Rich Hill (7-11, 5.09). This series and current home stand wraps up with the finale on Sunday. Look for Brandin Pfaadt (0-6, 7.16) to face righty Seth Lugo (4-6, 4.19).
Monthly honors … for July, the Diamondbacks named Double-A infielder Deyvison de los Santos and High A Hillsboro’s Dylan Ray as the organization’s players-of-the month.
At AA, de los Santos hit .364 with a pair of homers and 10 RBIs. He reached base safely in all 14 games and had a 10-game hitting streak from July 14 to July 25.
Ray, a right-hander, went 4-0 with a 0.72 EDRA and was named the Northwest League July pitcher-of-the-month.