Record: 25-21. Pace: 88-84. Change on 2017: -1.
The Diamondbacks are now 5-13 in the month of May. It’s probably telling that my reaction to this fact is, “We have won five games?” Even those seem a long time ago, with the team having dropped nine of the last ten. Our starters have precisely one W to their names after 18 attempts in the month of May, that being Matt Koch’s victory over Justin Verlander and the Astros on May 6. With nine games left, they are 1-7 and need to win three of those to avoid tying the franchise record for fewest wins by their starters in a month: Arizona’s rotation had a record of 3-15 over their first month ever, in 1998 (one of those losses was technically in March), and then went 3-11 in June 2013.
Not for the first time though, it would be unfair to blame the starter for the loss today. Clay Buchholz made his debut for Arizona and performed perfectly serviceably. He didn’t seem to be particularly missing many bats - he had only six swinging strikes all afternoon - but was mixing up his pitches well, and generally avoiding much in the way of hard contact. He was certainly helped by BABIP: the Mets were 1-for-14 on balls in play, which will rise, and a K:BB of 2:1 over five innings is not going to terrify opponents. But the end result is what matters, and Buchholz entered the sixth inning in line for a W, having thrown a remarkably economical 59 pitches.
Two pitches later, his day was over. Buchholz tried to double up on a curveball and although it was located down, the batter was ready, depositing it into the bleachers for the game-tying score. Torey Lovullo went to get him, a decision second-guessed by many on social media, but one I’m not necessarily averse to this. As noted, Buchholz had not been dominating, and putting him through a left-handed heavy order for the third time might well have been asking for trouble. Initially, it worked well, with the Arizona bullpen doing their job. Left-hander T.J. McFarland came in to replace Clay, and worked around a one-out single to keep the game tied after six.
Jorge De La Rosa in the seventh... Not so much. He got the first two outs on four pitches, but then needed 18 pitches and five batters to get the third. That included home-runs on consecutive pitches, a two-run shot followed by a solo homer, that gave the Mets a three-run lead. While De La Rosa has been incredibly effective against left-handed batters, I’m not sure he should ever be left to face any right-handers. Yoshihisa Hirano was locked and loaded in the bullpen, but he - along with last night’s goat, Archie Bradley, and Brad Boxberger - got the night off. Boxberger has appeared in one game since May 10, mostly due to the severe lack of games to be saved.
Fernando Salas worked a scoreless eighth, but the three-run lead might as well have been thirty, the way the D-backs have been hitting of late. This was the seventh time in May alone they have been held to one run or fewer, and twelfth time the Diamondbacks have managed six or fewer hits. They did manage to scratch a run across in the second inning. Jarrod Dyson appears to have reached Goldschmidt/Lincecum levels of ownership over Noah Syndergaard. He’s now 5-for-5 lifetime, having had three hits today - half the Arizona total, and improving his season average by 23 points. His first hit today was followed by another single, from Nick Ahmed; although Jeff Mathis could only ground out, it was enough to give us an early lead.
A couple of base-running blunders certainly didn’t help the struggling offense, though perhaps this might be a case where the team and coaches are trying to make up for that issue by aggressiveness on the basepaths. Mathis reached to lead off the fifth, taking advantage of an error at the hot corner, and was bunted into scoring position by Buchholz. David Peralta then shot one through the infield to right, for our obligatory sole RISP hit of the day, and Tony Perezchica sent the runner. But Mathis - who is among the slowest men on the team - found the ball waiting for him at home-plate. Rather than runners on the corners with one out, we had only a man on first, with two outs. and unsurprisingly, failed to score.
The following inning, with the score still tied, saw Paul Goldschmidt single with one out. But he was picked off and caught stealing, though almost made it to second, the decision requiring a long review by the video umpires. It’s interesting how even Goldy’s running game appears to be slumping this season too: after 21, 32 and 18 SB the previous three years, he has only two to this point. Admittedly, while he hasn’t been on base quite as often in 2018, he does also appear to be being significantly more cautious. It was another day filled with swings and misses. Arizona’s K:BB ratio for the day was 11:1, and for the series was a startlingly bad 36:2.
Click here for details, at Fangraphs.com
Believe: Clay Buchholz, +10.4%
Thieves, Thieves: Jorge De La Rosa, -35.1%
Tramps and Thieves: David Peralta, -11.2%
Present in the comment thread were: AZDovs11, AzDbackfanInDc, BobDolio, DORRITO, DeadManG, Fangdango, GuruB, Jackwriter, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, MrMrrbi, Renin, The so-called Beautiful, Xerostomia, edbigghead, frienetic, hotclaws, jjwaltrip, onedotfive, ponus, samath, shoewizard, suroeste. You are better than I am, since my sole contribution was the link to the quick recap. But no Sedona Red comments, and so clearly not much better... We move on to Milwaukee in the hope that the series there will go a bit better, and in the safe and certain knowledge that, results-wise, it certainly cannot go any worse.