Welcome to another bullpen melt-down.
Through the season, pundits thought this experience was reserved for closer Addison Reed, who developed a penchant for walking hitters late in games and giving up crushing home runs.
On Friday, Randall Delgado and Eury De La Rosa did their best Reed impersonation and allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates to climb from back from three runs down in the eighth inning to tie.
In the end, back-to-back doubles in the ninth from Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer brought the Pittsburgh Pirates to life and the Bucos scored five in that ninth inning to break the deadlock and defeat the Diamondbacks, 9-4 before 22,766 in Chase Field.
The defeat created a no-decision for starter Vidal Nuno, who deserved a better fate.
Nuno left after six strong innings and beneficiary of a 4-1 lead. Yet, the bullpen could not hold the lead and Bo Schultz, who came on in the ninth, allowed four straight hitters to reach base at one point in the frame, two scored, and that ended what began as a promising evening for Arizona.
In the ninth inning alone, Schultz allowed six hits, five runs, all earned, and for three appearances since his recall from Triple-A Reno on July 29, his ERA is 12.27.
“It was a tough situation for the bullpen,” said manager Kirk Gibson. “I’m using guys like (Evan) Marshall, (Brad) Ziegler, (Matt) Stites almost on a daily basis and they can’t go every day. I hoped that Delgado could give us some good innings but he did not make quality pitches. Too much down the middle and same with De La Rosa.”
For Nuno, the only blemish on an otherwise strong night was the Pirates’ sixth inning. With one out, Mercer doubled and was chased home on a single from first baseman Gaby Sanchez. Otherwise, Nuno allowed one other hit and that was a two-out, first inning single by Andrew McCutchen.
“Finally, I found my delivery,” said Nuno. “I threw with much more consistency and used both sides of the plate. My fast ball command was better and (catcher Miguel) Montero called a great game. Every time out, I’m learning and improving.”
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks retained a strong measure of patience and then scored against Pirates’ starter Edinson Volquez in the fifth.
In addition to Ender Inciarte’s three-run home run into the right field bleachers, the Diamondbacks picked up a key run also in the sixth. With one out, David Peralta walked, stole second and moved to third on a throwing error from catcher Russell Martin. From there, Peralta crossed the plate on a wild pitch by Volquez, and it appeared the Diamondbacks were cruising at 4-1.
Then, the bullpen escapade initiated by Delgado and choreographed by De La Rosa and Schultz.
Though he did not start Friday night, Paul Goldschmidt entered the game when it was tied in the ninth.
After things went south quickly and the Diamondbacks faced a five run deficit in the bottom of the frame, Pirates’ reliever Ernesto Frieri retired Andy Marte on a routine fly to center to open the inning.
With that five-run lead, he proceeded to hit Goldschmidt on the left hand with a pitch. Frieri then ended the game by getting Inciarte to pop to short and struck out David Peralta.
At that point, festivities just began.
Pirates’ catcher Russell Martin, with his teammates right behind, crossed home plate and started toward the Diamondbacks dugout. Though no Arizona player would admit, a dialogue began on hitting Goldschmidt. Immediately coach Dave McKay and reliever Oliver Perez responded to Martin but little transpired and the team repaired quickly to their respective dugouts.
Afterward, Perez refused to comment on any exchange he had with Martin and manager Kirk Gibson firmly told reporters, “I’m not going down that road.”
Gibson said he left the dugout and headed to the clubhouse before both teams began to congregate.
“Look, I was not happy and we already had two bad innings,” Gibson said. “I will say that the bullpen has to make better pitches.”
The Diamondbacks took every precaution with Goldschmidt and had his left hand immediately X-rayed. About 30 minutes after the game, the X-ray results were not available and Goldschmidt was seen leaving the clubhouse with his left hand bandaged.
M*A*S*H UNIT REPORT
Outfielder A. J. Pollock, recovering from a broken right hand, was hit on the same hand with a pitched ball in an Arizona League game Thursday night.
Manager Kirk Gibson told reporters Pollock was not hit on the same spot where he was smacked by the Reds’ Johnny Cueto on May 31. While the latest hit was not regarded as serious, Gibson said, Pollock is on schedule to return within the next two weeks.
When he went down, Pollock was hitting .316 in 52 games for Arizona. That included 16 doubles, four triples, six home runs and 15 RBIs from the lead-off spot.
Elsewhere, infielder Cliff Pennington, after a brief rehab assignment in the Arizona League, is heading to Triple-A Reno. Out since June 2 with a sprained ligament in his left thumb, Pennington was hitting .243 in 33 games.
AFTER THE TRADES
Following transactions involving Gerardo Parra and Martin Prado, the Diamondbacks began a transition to eventually move prospects to Chase Field.
Most notably, third baseman Jake Lamb, was leading the Southern League with a .318 average and that included 14 home runs and a league-leading 79 RBIs, was promoted from Double-AA Mobile to Triple-A Reno Friday.
At the time of the trades, general manager Kevin Towers told reporters Lamb is very high the D-backs of list of potential suitors for third base. Towers also cited infielder Brandon Drury as a strong prospect and on Friday, Drury was promoted from High Single-A Visalia to Double-AA Mobile.
Also outfielder Zack Borenstein, acquired from the Angels in the Joe Thatcher-Tony Campana deal earlier this season, was promoted from Mobile to Reno.
Catcher Peter O’Brien, acquired from the Yankees in the Prado trade, will join Mobile and outfielder Mitch Haniger, picked up from the Brewers in the Parra deal, will also join Mobile.