Pitcher Wade Miley’s night on Tuesday was a microcosm of the Arizona season.
Hit hard, hit often and behind hitters, Miley’s result, and compounded frustration, monitored the Diamondbacks’ 2013 venture.
Here was a team destined for a competitive summer and challenger for post-season play. Instead, the D-backs seemed to flat-line all season, and failed to generate a consistent string of victories.
Miley clearly flat-lined Tuesday night when he could not survive the second inning. In dropping a 10-4 decision to the Toronto Blue Jays before 19,100 in Chase Field, Miley failed to gain a win in his last five starts. Following a streak of four wins in five starts from July 6 and August 6, Miley has fallen back on hard times.
The defeat extends to Diamondbacks losing streak to three games and they have dropped nine of their last 13 games.
While the last month appears to duplicate his first two months, Miley’s inconsistent season could give the Diamondbacks’ organization some cause for concern. In his first 17 starts through July 1, Miley went 4-7 with six no-decisions.
Chased in the second, Miley’s resume on Tuesday included a two run homer to Rajai Davis and two hits each to Jose Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie and a walk to opposing pitcher Todd Redmond. Plus, his 1.2 innings against Toronto is the shortest of his major league career.
“I thought I was okay in the first inning and there have been times where I had the same stuff for seven innings and came away with a win,” Miley said. “They have some good guys over there and can flip a switch in a minute. I’ll put this one behind me and get ready for the next start.”
While numbers do not always tell the story, Miley’s pitch count provides a peak into troubled times. When he left with two outs in the second, he threw 59 pitches but only 31 for strikes. That demonstrated pitching behind hitters and then the challenge of coming come-from-behind.
“They did a good job of putting the ball in play,” Miley added. “Yeah, I pressed a little and got the ball up. Yep, this one is on me.”
The fact that the Diamondbacks fell behind 5-0 early may provide further testimony to a tired team and a club, at this point in the season, just plain frustrated.
Equally telling is the Diamondbacks fall from grace. With the loss Tuesday night, they were surpassed by Washington in trying the land the second Wild Card spot in post-season play. Plus, the defeat Tuesday brings the Diamondbacks to just one game above .500 to 69-68.
Coming into play Wednesday, the Nationals were 7.5 games behind Cincinnati for the final wild card spot and Arizona was eight games in back of the Reds.
For most of the last month, Gibson told reporters his bullpen is simply tired and worn.
There was plenty of evidence on Tuesday to support this contention. The Jays hit four home runs off Miley and two Arizona relievers, and Eury De La Rosa gave up two in the ninth. One was to pinch hitter Adam Lind and another to Moises Sierra, his first of the season.
“It’s disappointing right now and we need to figure it out,” said Adam Eaton, who went 1-for-4 with his third home run of the season. “Overall, I thought Wade was okay but games like this happen. You can’t be perfect all the time.”
Aided by a solo shot from Miguel Montero, a two-run bomb from Didi Gregorius and the single bomb from Eaton, the Diamondbacks climbed to within three at 6-3 but three Jays homers in the last two innings put this one out of reach.
“We’re fine but right now, can’t seem to get the big hit,” said manager Kirk Gibson. “This team can hit and with home runs, they didn’t miss. We didn’t get away with it (Tuesday night).”
To be fair, the Diamondbacks had a number of opportunities to crawl back in this one. Yet, the Jays turned three double plays to kill rallies in the fourth, sixth and seven innings.
POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE
First baseman Paul Goldschmidt joined a growing number of professional athletes who earned their college degrees while active.
Goldschmidt was awarded his degree from the University of Phoenix this week and told reporters before Tuesday’s game that the accomplishment was on his radar screen for some time.
Goldschmidt started his degree at Texas State but suspended studies while he pursued his baseball career.
While riding the buses in the minors, Goldschmidt said other players used their mobile devices to complete courses and the technology then influenced his academic decision.
Using time at home after day games, mornings of night games and time while traveling, Goldschmidt was able to complete his degree in business and management.
“At this point, I wanted to get my degree but, honestly, I’m not thinking on how to use right now,” he said. “I’ve been in touch with some people about investment companies, but I haven‘t given that much thought. We‘ll see what happens.”
Goldschmidt said he’s satisfied with his undergraduate degree for now, but has no plans to pursue an MBA.
Plus, he discounted, at least for the present, using his degree in combination with baseball administration.
For now, Goldschmidt said he’s happy the process is over and hopes to influence other players in their pursuit of their college degrees.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Diamondbacks recalled infielders Matt Davidson and Chris Owings and catcher Tuffy Gosewisch from Triple A Reno.
With conclusion of the Aces’ season on Labor Day, manager Kirk Gibson said the promotion of the three to the major league level was as much as reward as a “thank you.”
Gibson indicated the Diamondbacks are likely finished with September call-ups, but said left-hander David Holmberg may be back. Currently, Holmberg is pitching for Double A Mobile in the BayBears post-season play.
Regarding Owings, who was named both the Pacific Coast rookie-of-the-year and Most Valuable Player, Gibson said the organization is interested in closely following his development.
“We need to see (Owings) in the (major league) environment,” Gibson said before Tuesday’s game. “We want to bring him slowly so he’s in a comfortable position.”
In his major league debut Tuesday night, Owings grounded to second as a pinch hitter in the fifth inning.
In Davidson, Gibson sees a man with a lethal stick.
“I was blessed with speed as a player and, at the same level, I feel Davidson can hit,” Gibson added. “Right now, he needs to gain confidence. When he was here earlier, he started slowly. He made some adjustments and he’s more confident than when he left.”
In his previous stint with the Diamondbacks this summer, Davidson hit .179 (5-for-28) and two RBIs.