Despite scoring in the first inning yet again and getting a very strong outing from Daniel Hudson, the Arizona Diamondbacks were unable to put anything else on the board, and were eventually overcome by the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 in the series finale at Chase Field Wednesday afternoon. Pedro Alvarez hit a solo home run off the top of the wall of the right field bullpen in the seventh inning to pull the Pirates even, and Neil Walker’s RBI single in the 8th capped off a two-out rally that saw the Pirates finally chase Hudson from the game and David Hernandez allow yet another inherited run to cross the plate.
For the Diamondbacks, it was yet again a matter of not being able to add on insurance runs after scoring early. Their first inning run marked the 10th time they have scored in the first inning in their first 12 games of the season, and continued a streak of six games in a row in which they have done so. It was a loud run as well, with Willie Bloomquist hammering a triple to right center field and scoring on an RBI single by Jason Kubel, who was batting third today in the absence of Justin Upton.
The Diamondbacks had a couple of other opportunities to make noise, including in the sixth inning when Aaron Hill nearly tied the game with a deep fly ball to center field that barely bounced below the yellow line for a long triple. Kubel struck out following the hit, then Miguel Montero was intentionally walked to bring Ryan Roberts to the plate. Tat-man couldn’t produce, unfortunately, belting a ball right to third base for an inning ending double play.
The Diamondbacks had another opportunity to take the lead after they had let the game get tied in the seventh, when AJ Pollock, called up to replace the injured Chris Young on the 25-man roster, walked with one out. He ended up attempting a steal with Gerardo Parra at the plate, but overslid the bag and was tagged out despite beating the throw by a wide margin. Parra then walked, but Hudson struck out looking to end the frame.
Finally, Arizona had one more chance in the ninth inning when Montero reached with a lead-off single. Roberts struck out, and then Lyle Overbay hit a rocket at shortstop that was gloved cleanly for an out. Finally, Pollock grounded out up the middle to end the game and end the third threat the team had to score additional runs.
We’ll have more on the breakdown of when the Diamondbacks have been scoring their runs later on tonight for Rant Sports, but as is evident by the way this game progressed, Arizona simply is not doing a good enough job in supporting their pitchers despite the great outings they have been putting together. Managing only seven baserunners in eight innings following the first is not a recipe for success, and that inability to get insurance put a lot of undue pressure on Hudson, who looked economical and downright filthy for much of the day with his stuff.
The other concerning thing for the Diamondbacks is the continued inability of Hernandez to record outs when he comes into games. In his last four outings, he surrendered a game winning home run to the Padres, surrendered another run against the Rockies while facing five batters, did manage to work a scoreless inning against Pittsburgh on Monday, and then today couldn’t record an out when needed in relief of Hudson in the eighth inning.
The ball he gave up the RBI single on today wasn’t hit particularly hard, but it shows once again that his stuff just isn’t where it needs to be right now. With the team playing a lot of close games lately while the offense tries to sort itself out (and get healthy, for that matter), the Diamondbacks are going to need their bullpen to step up and deliver, and Hernandez hasn’t been doing that much to the chagrin of the fanbase.
Arizona will try to overcome its second straight series defeat when they begin a four game series against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night at Chase Field. First pitch is at 6:40pm MST, and the pitching matchup pits Mike Minor against Josh Collmenter.
Player of the Game: Daniel Hudson
An honorable mention does need to go to Montero for his efforts today in getting on base three different times, but it was Hudson who truly shone for the Diamondbacks today. For starters, he pitched very well up until he got into a little bit of trouble in the eighth inning, and that included forcing three double plays in the first four innings. It could have been four in five innings, but Hill bobbled a transition at second base that ended up allowing the runner to reach safely.
Hudson also induced 10 ground ball outs and struck out five Pirates hitters on the afternoon. He did allow three walks, but his command was so good that oftentimes he wasn’t getting very deep into counts, so the occasional wildness can be forgiven.
-If you are in Arizona and want to go to the Diamondbacks’ Thursday game against the Braves, you can do so on the cheap. In honor of tax day, the team is selling upper level tickets for just $5, and bleacher tickets for only $10. To get them, you need to go to the team’s website and enter the promo code “DHall”.
-Even with matinee day pricing slashing tickets to as low as $7, Chase Field was once again mostly empty on Wednesday afternoon. The paid attendance was only 18,368, which represents only about 38% of the park’s capacity.
-Both Young and Geoff Blum were placed on the 15-day disabled list by the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. Pollock and infielder Cody Ransom were called up to fill out the 25-man roster.
Young is out with an injured right shoulder sustained running into the wall during Tuesday night’s game, and Blum has a strained left oblique and was placed on the DL retroactive to Tuesday.
Upton also missed Tuesday’s game, and didn’t start Wednesday, but was used to pinch run for Montero in the ninth inning. He is nursing a sore thumb that has been bothering him since he injured it sliding into second base on opening weekend.