Don’t look but this could be déjà vu.
Remember last season when the Diamondbacks’ bullpen essentially imploded and led the major leagues in blown saves? Look no further than this week to turn back the page of history.
After Addison Reed gave up two, ninth inning home runs to lose a very winnable game Monday night, the usually reliable Brad Ziegler followed with another debacle. Lasting just one-third of an inning, Ziegler gave up three hits, two walks, one intentional and four runs in a forgettable ninth inning. In the process, the Diamondbacks dropped a 5-1 decision to the Washington Nationals before 18,325 Wednesday afternoon in Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks were on their way to the first home series win when Ziegler dropped the baton. The loss spoiled a stellar performance from starter Brandon McCarthy, who retired the first 12 hitters he faced and allowed only three base runners in seven innings of work.
For Ziegler, the loss was particularly discouraging for he entered the game with a 19-game scoreless streak and a season ERA of 0.86. Though he leads the majors in game appearances, Ziegler discounted the notion that fatigue may have contributed to his implosion Wednesday.
“I felt fine but left a few balls up and you can’t do that,” Ziegler said. “I just didn’t execute. It’s disappointing for McCarthy because he pitched so great and disappointing for the team. We played hard (Wednesday) and battled this whole series.”
Just as the Diamondbacks were prepared to accomplish a home series win, the lack of closing out an opponent haunted the team once again.
Clearly, McCarthy did his part but ninth inning blues surfaced.
Only three hitters reached base against McCarthy but one was Jayson Werth, whose blast into the left center-field bleachers leading off the seventh tied the game at 1-1. Previously, Aaron Hill staked McCarthy to a 1-0 lead with his fourth home run of the season with one out in the fourth.
“I changed a few things and they seem to work,” McCarthy said afterward. “I wanted to pitch off the plate just a little and miss the zone. It’s something like planned misses and you try and confuse the batter’s eye level. For the most part, it worked.”
Save his last start, in which he surrendered seven earned runs in 3.1 innings against the White Sox May 9, McCarthy turned in his third quality start in his last four starts. Yet, the bullpen did not pick him up.
In the ninth, Ziegler started the inning by walking Denard Span and Anthony Rendon followed with a double over the head of right-fielder Gerardo Parra. After Werth received an intentional walk to load the bases, Ian Desmond laced the first pitch he saw from Ziegler between short and third for a two-run single.
Then, Tyler Moore added a two-run single to center off of Ziegler later in the inning and that closed to curtain on this one.
“(Ziegler’s) been our guy who hasn’t given it up,” said manager Kirk Gibson. “(Wednesday), he gave it up. Look, we’ve asked (Ziegler) to do a lot and he’s responded. (Wednesday) was just not his day.”
Save Hill’s blast, the Diamondbacks managed only five scattered singles and put but seven runners on base for the nine innings.
Meeting with reporters prior to the Wednesday game with the Nationals, D-backs general manager Kevin Towers again dismissed talk regarding his tenure with the team.
After a dreadful start to the 2014 season, speculation arose that both Towers’ and field manager Kirk Gibson’s future in Sedona Red could be in jeopardy. On Wednesday, Towers reiterated that his future lays with both performance on the baseball field and at the pleasure of the club ownership.
“All I can do is stay focused and stay positive,” Towers said. “That other stuff is out of my hands.”
Veteran left-hander Randy Wolf, whom the Diamondbacks signed to a minor league contract last month, exercised a clause in the agreement and opted out of his obligation with Arizona.
The clause indicated that if Wolf, who turns 38 in August, secures a spot on a major league roster, the Diamondbacks would have to honor that passage.
On Wednesday morning, ESPN.com reported Wolf signed with the Miami Marlins and that would make Wolf less than two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.
Wolf is expected to move directly in the Marlins’ rotation and replace Miami ace Jose Fernandez, who will undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
In six starts at Triple-A Reno, Wolf went 5-1, 4.50 ERA in six starts.
In not promoting Wolf to the parent Diamondbacks, Towers said the organization has adequate depth.
“We have guys like Bo Schultz, Charles Brewer, Mike Bolsinger and Randy enjoyed his stay here,” Towers said. “We did not envision moving anyone out of the present rotation to the bullpen and move Wolf in there. We wanted to go with younger players and give opportunities to the younger guys.”
For the upcoming weekend, the Diamondbacks take on the Dodgers in the fourth series thus far.
In 2014, the Diamondbacks are 1-7 against Los Angeles and the only victory was a 4-2 win in 12 innings April 18 in Dodger Stadium.
In the Friday night opener, Zach Greinke (6-1. 2.38 ERA) takes on Wade Miley (3-3, 4.82). On Saturday, it’s Chase Anderson (1-0, 1.69) in his home debut start for the Diamondbacks and takes on two-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 1.74).
For Sunday, Josh Collmenter (1-2, 3.89) opposed former D-back Dan Haren (5-1, 2.84).
After the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks hit the road for a six game road trip with stops first in St Louis for three and New York for three with Mets. Arizona then returns to Chase Field for a seven game home stand and faces the Padres for three and the Reds for four.