When pitching fails, it’s up the offense.
On a night when Vidal Nuno was about effective with his pitching as Vidal Sassoon was with his hair-styling, the Diamondbacks made a collective, executive decision. That included an premature exit for Nuno after four innings and a deficit of three runs as early as the fourth inning.
Down early by those three, the Diamondbacks had no answer in trying to pick up Nuno. Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie made sure of that fact and limited Arizona to seven hits and two runs on his way to a 6-2 victory over the Diamondbacks before 17,809 in Chase Field.
The sweep by the Royals of this three-game series was their first over Arizona and second-ever sweep on the road in inter-league play. The other came against the St. Louis Cardinals June 17-19, 2008.
After allowing single runs in the first and third, Guthrie settled down, retired the final 19 hitters in a row to end the game and cruised to his eighth victory of the season. In the process, Guthrie picked the Royals’ first complete game of the season and the eighth of his career.
This was a retribution of sorts for Guthrie, who faced the Diamondbacks for the second time in his career. Previously, he lost to Arizona 10-0 in Chase Field on June 5, 2012 while pitching for the Rockies.
Though Guthrie’s effort helped the Royals inch closer to the American League Central division-leading Detroit Tigers, the offense appeared to walk the plank.
Part of their demise Thursday night was Guthrie but the Diamondbacks left five runners on base through the opening three innings.
That’s when Guthrie closed the door and dropped the Diamondbacks 17 games under the .500 mark.
“We got to his fast ball and curve early in the game, but he made some adjustments,” said left fielder David Peralta, who went 0-for-4 against Guthrie. “Then, he was getting us with a cutter and the cutter was especially good to left-handed batters. We tried to make adjustments and we couldn’t do it. Sometimes you just gave to give the other pitcher credit.”
If Guthrie was shutting down the offense, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson did not like what he saw from Nuno. Poor location and elevating pitches doomed Nuno from the start.
For starters, take the second inning.
First, Billy Butler led off the Kansas City frame with a double down the left field line. Then, left-fielder Alex Gordon deposited his 10th home run of the season into the right field bleachers and the Royals took a 2-1 lead. From there, they added two more in the third and another in the fourth. By that time, Gibson reached for the hook and Nuno was history.
“I was a little frustrated because I couldn’t get the ball down,” said Nuno, and his record dropped to 0-3. “I couldn’t command the ball down and somehow kept it up. The homer to Gordon was over the plate and in a bad location. He got his pitch and drove it.”
So effective was Guthrie’s cutter that the Diamondbacks could not get any height. Of the final 19 outs in a row, Arizona batters hit only three balls to the outfield and all to centerfielder Lorenzo Cain.
Guthrie then put his own signature on this one when he struck out Didi Gregorius to end the game.
If there was moment for the Diamondbacks, it came in the third inning. That’s when Jake Lamb, recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Reno, dropped a fly ball in short left field and that drove in Mark Trumbo, who singled and moved to second on a single from Miguel Montero.
Appearing in his initial major league game, the hit and RBI were each the first for Lamb.
“Yep, just a little jam job,” Lamb smiled afterward. “Getting called up, seeing my family for the first time since spring training, it’s just been awesome. Being here hasn’t hit me yet.”
PITCHING MATCH-UPS FOR ROCKIES
The home stand ends this weekend with three against the Colorado Rockies.
On Friday night, Chase Anderson (6-4, 3.19 ERA) takes on lefty Tyler Matzek (2-6, 5.31). For Saturday’s 5:10 start, Trevor Cahill (1-8, 5.12) opposes lefty Jorge De La Rosa (11-7, 4.27) and on Sunday, it’s a pair of lefties. Wade Miley (7-8, 4.61) goes for the Diamondbacks against Franklin Morales (5-6, 5.08).
On Friday night, Anderson is making his first career start against the Rockies and Matzek is making his initial appearance against the Diamondbacks.
For Saturday against Cahill, Carlos Gonzalez is 4-for-14 (.286) while Troy Tulowitzki is 2-for-12 (.167). Against De La Rosa, Aaron Hill is 4-for-14 (.286) and Miguel Montero is 2-for-14 (.143).
On Sunday against Miley, Gonzalez is 8-for-21 (.381) while Tulowitzki is 6-for-16 (.375).
Then, the D-backs hit the road for 10 games, including stops for three in Cleveland, three against the Marlins in Miami and four with the Nationals in the nation’s capital.