In the first month of the season, the top tier of the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation has been less than stellar. For the all the hype, emotion and build-up starting in the off-season, the Diamondbacks have simply not received many quality starts from those pitchers expected to carry most of the team’s fortune.
With Zack Grienke and Shelby Miller sporting a combined 2-4 and 7.37 ERA, add Patrick Corbin to the club. Coming out of spring training as the number three starter and a training camp of accomplishment, many pundits believed Corbin was ready to challenge Greinke and Miller as titular heads of the staff. Instead, Corbin has been the near antithesis of his spring success.
In his latest bout with futility, Corbin failed to get out of the sixth inning, and could not hold a lead powered by home runs. The result was an 11-4 defeat to the St. Louis Cardinals before 18,339 in Chase Field.
The loss was the second straight for Arizona, and dropped the Diamondbacks under .500 to 11-12. They have lost four of six games in their current 10-game home stand.
Usually a quality control pitcher, Corbin walked an uncharacteristic five hitters, and surrendered a season-high seven runs, all earned. More than the defeat, the amount of walks represented the catalyst for the defeat.
“I felt good, and kept the fast ball down in the zone,” was Corbin’s interpretation of his performance. “But, I walked five guys and that’s too many. I need to bear down and make quality pitches.”
If Corbin was guilty of yielding a plethora of homers in previous starts, the Diamondbacks had his back at the start of this one. Brandon Drury staked Corbin to an early lead with a two-run homer in the second, and Paul Goldschmidt’s monster blast into the picnic pavilion in dead center field gave the Diamondbacks a 3-1 advantage by the end of the fourth inning.
From that point Corbin could not sustain the lead. The Cardinals rallied for five runs in the sixth, and the key hit was a bases-loaded triple from pitcher Adam Wainwright. Considered a strong hitting pitcher, Wainwright came into the game with a career .198 average and six home runs. His triple was smoked between third baseman Jake Lamb and the bag, and deflected past Yasmany Tomas in left. The Cardinals then added two more in the inning on a pair of run-producing doubles from Stephen Piscotty and Matt Holliday.
“The pitch to Wainwright was too much down the middle,” Corbin said. “Not a good pitch, and you can’t let him beat you.”
Manager Chip Hale agreed that walks were difficult to overcome. That is especially the case these days with the nature of Chase Field clearly bending in favor of the hitters.
“Walks were the difference,” Hale said. “Walks are tough in this ball park, and tough to get around. You can’t walk guys here, and it’s just unfortunate.”
From Greinke, Miller and Corbin, Hale said he’s noticed a distributing trend. Hale pointed out the fire and passion among his starters is missing, and that’s an important variable which needs to be captured. Without the drive, determination and emotion, he hinted, there can be no winning attitude.
“It’s like they expect something bad to happen,” Hale said. “We’ll talk to them and there’s a need to get after them a little more.”
For Corbin, the result dropped his season mark to 1-3 and elevated his ERA to 4.88. Despite Hale’s observation Corbin’s effort against the Cardinals was better than his previous 8-7 defeat to the Pirates on his last start, the bottom line is winning. That’s something his starters have to failed to accomplish in the first month of the season. With Greinke, Miller and Corbin combined, the trio sports a 3-7 record and a 6.57 ERA.
After Wednesday night’s game, the Diamondbacks optioned reliever Dominc Leone to AAA Reno. The team announced they will make a corresponding roster move prior to Thursday’s game with the Cardinals in Chase Field.
The Cardinals’ series concludes Thursday night. That’s when righty Rubby De La Rosa (2-3, 5.94 ERA) takes on right-hander Michael Wacha (2-0, 2.82 ERA). The Colorado Rockies then move in for a 3-game weekend set, and that concludes the current home stand.