After a successful stretch, Diamondbacks’ starter Josh Collmenter has hit the preverbal roadblock.
Reliable and worthy, Collmenter was brought in early in the season from his strong role as long reliever in the bullpen into a fireman’s role among the starters.
By necessity, Collmenter’s value as long reliever was placed on the back burner and his contribution as starter then realized.
By mid-April, starters Trevor Cahill was dropped from the rotation and eventually exiled to the minors, and both Randall Delgado and Brandon McCarthy were ineffective.
Pushed to the forefront, Collmenter was hurried to the rescue and, from May 18 to June 28, the native of Homer, Mich. complied a very creditable 6-2 record with one no decision.
Since, he’s managed only one win in his last six starts and the latest bout with futility transpired Wednesday night. Allowing a two-run home run to Mike Moustakas in the second and the go-ahead run in the fourth, Collmenter was charged with the loss in a 4-3 defeat to the Kansas City Royals before 16,157, the smallest crowd of the season in Chase Field.
Despite the defeat, Collmenter surrendered only three hits for six innings of work. Yet, two of the three was by Moustakas, who also drove in the game-winner with a ground-out in the ninth.
Otherwise, Collmenter was strong but could not eliminate two bad pitches to Moustakas. Plus, the three runs allowed by Collmenter all came with two out.
“I was pitching into jams and not able to get out of them is unacceptable,” Collmenter said. “It’s all on me. That home run (to Moustakas) was a fast ball down the middle and he just got it. Bad pitch and no excuse.”
For the record, Moustakas drove in his fourth run of the game with that ground- out in the ninth. His four RBIs in this one is one short of a career-mark established on July 2, 2012 at Toronto.
With the score tied at 2-2 in the fourth, Collmenter retired the first two hitters but then walked Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain. Moustakas followed with a single to right and the Royals edged into a one-run lead at 3-2.
For their part, the Diamondbacks had a number of good opportunities against Royals’ starter Yordano Ventura but could only pick up a pair in the second. Ventura, hitting the radar gun in the upper 90s and occasionally at 99 miles-per-hour, was able to escape jams in the second, third and sixth.
Overall, the Diamondbacks left 11 runners on base, went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and drew disappointment from manager Kirk Gibson.
“We had opportunities and have to have better at-bats with those opportunities,” Gibson said. “The run they scored in the ninth was a killer and we didn’t make good pitches in that inning.”
Perhaps the Diamondbacks best chance came in the sixth. Miguel Montero and David Peralta lead off the inning with back-to-back singles. From that point, Ventura struck out Didi Gregorius, Roger Kieschnick flied to right and pinch-hitter Jordan Pacheco grounded into a force.
With a one-run lead going into the eighth inning, the Royals unloaded perhaps the best bullpen tandem in the majors and preserved the victory.
Set-up reliever Wade Davis, who entered the game with 6-2 record in relief and a 0.95 ERA, allowed two hits in the eighth but struck out pinch-hitter Tuffy Gosewisch with runners on first and third and two outs.
In the ninth, closer Greg Holland, entering into the contest tied with the Mariners’ Fernando Rodney for the league lead in saves, allowed one run but struck out pinch-hitter Andy Marte with the tying run at first to end this one.
With the save, Holland jumps into the American League with 32. Additionally, the Tigers lost to the Yankees Wednesday night, and with their victory over the D-backs, the Royals climbed to within three and one-half game of first place Detroit in American League Central.
The Royals’ series ends Thursday night with a 6:40 p.m. start time.
The Diamondbacks, trying to salvage a game in this set, send left-hander Vidal Nuno (0-2, 3.07 ERA) to the hill against veteran righty Jeremy Guthrie (7-9, 4.50).
Then, the Colorado Rockies move in for the weekend and this three-game series concludes the present home stand.