Here’s a team which prides itself in character and its’ ability to overcome nearly every circumstance on the baseball diamond. Many of those variables were tested Sunday, and though the Diamondbacks were able to build a courageous come-back, the journey was not complete.
Down by four late in the game, they rallied for two in each the eighth, the ninth and 12th to tie, but could not detour the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates in extra innings. Highlighted by pair of doubles from Josh Harrison and Sean Rodriguez, the Pirates picked up a two-spot in the 13th and defeated the Diamondbacks, 12-10 before 27,573 in Chase Field. The game, which lasted 5-hours, 25-minutes, was the second longest in Chase Field history.
With the loss, the Diamondbacks’ season record dropped to .500 (10-10), and had its two-series winning streak snapped. As well, Arizona has dropped seven of their first 10 home games this season.
The comeback was staged on two levels. First, Paul Goldschmidt’s second home of the game with one on and one out in the ninth tied the contest at 8-8. The Pirates managed two in the top of the 12th and that was matched by a two-run Arizona rally in the bottom of the frame. The Pirates then pulled out the game-winner with that two-run 13th inning against Evan Marshall, the Diamondbacks’ eighth pitcher.
“We had opportunities, and had a chance to win,” said manager Chip Hale. “We did come back from tough situations, and we let pressure overwhelm us.”
Without citing players or conditions, Hale’s reference seemed pointed at Yasmany Tomas. In the both the 11th and 12th innings, Tomas had opportunities to win, and to add a second career walk-off hit to his resume. Instead, he struck out both times in critical situations. In the 11th, he left runners on first and second with one out, and left the bases loaded with two outs in the 12th inning.
“We can’t let pressure get to us,” Hale added. “We need to make pressure our friend. We had chances, but didn’t get it done.”
While the comeback was rather heroic, the start was inglorious. Starter Robbie Ray ran into pitch count trouble early, and could not get out of the fourth inning. Over the past week, Hale lauded his starters as a principal catalyst for recent success. One in particular cited was lefty Ray, who sported a 1.96 ERA coming into his start Sunday.
In a team which prides itself in resiliency, the Diamondbacks feel every obligation to pick up struggling teammates Despite Ray’s opening starts as productive, his outing Sunday was less than celebrated. Still, teammates could not ultimately come to his rescue.
The unsettling specter of a high pitch count doomed Ray last season, but the left-hander was confident throughout spring training that such demons were exorcised. That dilemma was revisited Sunday. That’s because Ray’s pitch count reached 33 after the first tinning. When he left after three innings and two batters in the fourth, his count rose to 84, and Hale indicated the high pitch count was the catalyst to Ray’s demise Sunday.
“The first inning was bad, and I was not able to bounce back,” Ray said. “I have to go out and make pitches. Yes, it’s frustrating, but I’ll continue to do what I’ve doing.”
At one point in this game, the Diamondbacks actually staked Ray to a lead. Down 3-1 in the third, Arizona took a 4-3 advantage after that frame, and three came on a three-run bomb from catcher Welington Castillo, whose homer hit off the left-field foul pole.
Then, the wheels came off in the fourth. Ray lasted two hitters into that inning, but Tyler Wagner, who gained his initial major league victory last Thursday in San Francisco, was hit hard in relief. The Pirates managed five runs in the fourth inning, and a two-run, bases loaded single from Gregory Polanco highlighted the frame.
From there, the Diamondbacks managed to deadlock matters. Down 8-4 in the eighth, their fight was contagious.
After a two-spot in the eighth which narrowed the Pirates lead to 8-6, Goldschmidt homered with one on in the bottom of the ninth to send this one into extra innings. Earlier in the first inning, Goldschmidt’s blast over the right field fence gave the Diamondbacks an early 1-0 lead. Goldschmidt’s multi-homer run game was the eighth of his career, and, with 121 home runs, he ties Mark Reynolds for fourth place on the club’s all-time list.
“We kept coming back, but (the Pirates) found a way to win,” Goldschmidt said afterward. “We had guys on, and I’m proud of the way we played. The Pirates are a very good team, and kept us off the board when they had to do that.”
This week, the Cardinals move in for four games. On Monday night, right-hander Zack Greinke (1-2, 5.25 ERA) gets the start for Arizona, and draws left-hander Jaime Garcia (1-1, 2.70 ERA) as his opponent.
On Tuesday night, right-hander Shelby Miller (0-1, 8.59) attempts to recover from his terrible start last Thursday in San Francisco, and opposes righty Carlos Martinez (3-0, 2.70). For Wednesday, lefty Patrick Corbin (1-2, 3.51) matches up with right-hander Adam Wainwright (0-3, 7.25). For the series finale Thursday, Rubby De La Rosa (2-3, 5.94) and righty Michael Wacha (2-0, 2.82) square off.
The current home stand concludes this weekend. That’s when the Rockies make their second trip into Chase Field and engage the Diamondbacks in a three-game series.