For all of the reliability of the back end of the bullpen, there was the fear this would happen. Probably more to the point, this was a matter of time, and equalization of the law averages,
Though not a save situation in Saturday’s game with Colorado, the reliability of closer Brad Ziegler is taken for granted. Here’s the Diamondbacks closer with a franchise-record 32 straight saves over two seasons, and he came in to preserve a tie. For this game, he had to simply prolong this contest. Entering a tie game in the ninth, Ziegler failed to keep the Diamondbacks in this one, yielded, three, late inning runs, and the Colorado Rockies took a 5-2 win before 32,987 in Chase Field Saturday.
The loss was the second straight in this series for the Diamondbacks, and Arizona dropped their fourth game in their last five contests. The defeat also sent the Diamondbacks two games under .500 at 12-15.
Ziegler entered the ninth in a 2-2 game and could not allow the Diamondbacks an opportunity to walk-off this one. With one out, he surrendered four hits and an intentional walk to five straight hitters. The key hit was a two-run triple down the right field line from Trevor Story. By the time he left in favor of lefty of Zac Curtis, making his major league debut, Ziegler gave up four hits, and three runs in just 1/3 of an inning.
“I thought I made a good pitch to Story,” said Ziegler afterward. “The pitch was about one-third in on the plate and he put the barrel on it. Usually, that’s a grounder to second or short, but he managed to get the inside part of the bat on the ball. Right now, he’s barreling up with his swing.”
The victory was the Rockies fourth win in five games at Chase Field this season. To manager Chip Hale, that math is frightening.
“They’re outplaying us right now,” Hale said. “They’re beating our butts and our guys know that. We’re not happy with this, and need to salvage a win in this series (Sunday).”
This one started with all of the trapping of recent Chase Field extravaganzas. Starter Zack Grienke, looking for his first quality start at home this season, gave up two runs early, and that seem consistent with his recent outings. A run-scoring double from Story and an RBI single off the bat of Gerardo Parra in the third staked Rox starter Chris Rusin to a 2-0 advantage after three innings.
Until like his other starts at home, Greinke settled into a groove and, after Parra’s single, retired 15 of the next 21 batters he faced. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks could not solve Rusin, who left after five shutout innings and slamed the door.
“Made some good pitches, and could have made better,” Greinke said. “The one to Story (in the third for a double) was a bad pitch, but other than that, it was pretty good. Felt fine, and thought I did okay.”
Down 2-0, the Diamondbacks picked up Greinke with a two-spot in the sixth. From offensive standpoint, that was all they would get on the night. With one hit and four base runners through the opening five innings, third baseman Brandon Drury then tied the score with a two-run homer in the sixth that landed half-way up in the left-field bleachers.
Despite a 2-2 tie going into the ninth inning, the Diamondbacks managed only five hits in total for this one. Jean Segura singled ahead of Drury’s homer, Paul Goldschmidt chipped in with a pair of singles, and Welington Castillo doubled with two-out in the ninth.
REVOLVING DOOR CONTINUES
Before Saturday’s game, the Diamondbacks called up left-hander Zac Curtis from Advanced A Visalia. In a corresponding move, the club designated left-handed reliever Keith Hessler for assignment.
In his third professional season, Curtis, at 23-years-old was 1-0 and two saves in eight games with Visalia. Out of Henderson, Tenn., Curtis was a sixth pick for Arizona in the 2014 draft.
“(Curtis) is tough and competitive,” said manager Chip Hale before Saturday’s game with the Rockies. “This is help for (Andrew) Chafin, and gives us another lefty down in the bullpen. It’s a long season, and we don’t want to burn out Chafin.”
In Saturday’s game, Curtis came in behind Brad Ziegler in the ninth inning with runners on first and second on one out. Quickly, he induced Gerardo Parra to ground into a 6-4-3 double play that ended the inning.
“Just trying to execute pitches,” he said after making his major league debut. “I was looking for the ground ball, and I’m out there to make good pitches.”
The home stand concludes Sunday (1:10 p.m.) with the Rockies. Right-hander Shelby Miller (0-2, 8.59 ERA) gets the start for Arizona, and righty Chad Bettis (2-1, 3.77) goes for Colorado.
Then, the Diamondbacks embark on a 9-game road trip. First stop is Miami and three with the Marlins. That’s followed by three in Atlanta and three in Denver with the Rockies. The team returns to Chase Field May 12, and start of a 6-game home stand. This set features three with the Giants and three with the Yankees.