After taking their most recent series over the San Francisco by winning the final two games of the series, the Diamondbacks may have looked a little comfortable.
That’s because they were trying to string three in a row for the first time this season, and managed only three, three game winning streaks over the past two months of last season.
If the Diamondbacks truly believe they are worthy of contending in the National League West, they must be more diligent in sustaining winnings streaks. In all of 2013, they managed only two winnings streaks of five games and no more. One lasted from May 6 to the May 10 and the was from July 3 to July 7.
Their inability to push victories together was considered a significant factor in reaching only the .500 level and elimination from the NL West Division race by early September.
In their attempt to put three wins together here in the second week of the season, they can blame Los Angeles Dodgers’ first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for the shoveling dirt on the latest grave. Coming into the Friday’s game, Gonzalez was hitting .189 but quickly took care of business
A two-run home run in the first from Gonzalez and his two-run single in the third dashed hopes of the Diamondbacks extending their winning streak. Eventually, the Dodgers pulled out 6-0 over Arizona before 33,349 in Chase Field.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez provided all the offense the Dodgers needed with a 3-for4 night and a five RBI night. With that production, Gonzalez came within one run batted in of a career mark. That was set against the Rockies on Sept. 15, 2010.
Afterward, Gonzalez said the Dodgers talked about approaching D-backs’ starter Brandon McCarthy and came to a simple conclusion.
“(McCarthy) is a pitcher who throws strikes and I was ready to go with the first pitch,” Gonzalez said. “I was not going to leave it and on the other hits, I managed to bat on the ball and it found spots.”
If the Diamondbacks produced any kind of energy with the consecutive wins in San Francisco, that momentum was quickly extinguished.
Thanks to a brilliant effort from Dodgers’ lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu and reliever Jamey Wright, the combined results allowed the D-backs only four runners for the game.
That included two singles from catcher Miguel Montero, a lead-off walk in the first to A. J. Pollock and another lead-off walk to Pollock to start the ninth. Ryu lasted seven strong innings and allowed three base runners.
Despite the numbers, Gonzalez said he felt good and prepared.
“I’m not worried about the average,” Gonzalez added. “You know what you can do and it’s all about routine and preparation. No, you don’t panic. Ever.”
While McCarthy was saddled with the loss and his ERA rose to 7.78, there were some lessons from his latest bout with futility.
“(McCarthy) made some mistakes, and it cost him,” said manager Kirk Gibson. “The home run to Gonzalez was out over the plate and you can’t do that to an experienced hitter like that. We know (Gonzalez) was off to a tough start but he’s starting to trend the other way. Look, he’s just a good hitter.”
SUBTRACT DELGARDO, ADD WOLF?
After the game Friday night, manager Kirk Gibson said right-hander Randall Delgado was demoted to the bullpen.
His spot in the rotation, for the moment, will be filled by Josh Collmenter, who will start Monday night at home against the New York Mets.
At the same time, right-hander Bronson Arroyo is moved up one day and will start Tuesday night at Chase Field also against the Mets.
To address deficiencies in the starting rotation, the Diamondbacks signed veteran left-hander Randy Wolf to a minor league contract. He will report to Triple A Reno.
At 37, Wolf has 14 years of major league experience and last pitched for Baltimore in 2012 (2-0 in five games). In 368 career starts, Wolf has a record of 132-117 and ERA of 4.20. His last major league contract was worth $9.5 million and he signed that agreement with Milwaukee at the start of the 2012 season.
In February of this year, Wolf signed with Seattle but was cut by the Mariners at the end of spring training.
Coming out of spring training, one player considered on “the bubble” to make the 25 man roster was reliever J. J. Putz.
In the final year of his contract obligation with Arizona, in which he will receive $6.5 million, Putz came off of 3-1 season but saved six out of 11 save opportunities. Plus, injuries caught up with the 37 year old native of Trenton, Mich.
Putz landed on the Disabled List two different times. First, he suffered a strained right elbow and placement from May 8 to June 29. Later, he dislocated his right little finger and went on the DL from Aug. 24 to Sept. 16.
With his health now restored, Putz is furiously out of the gate. In five appearances thus far in 2014, he has retired 13 hitters of 14 hitters faced. The only runner to reach base was on an intentional walk and owns a perfect 0.00 ERA.
“I’m healthy,” Putz said in the clubhouse prior to Friday’s game with the Dodgers. “Plus, I have much better fast ball command.”
In spring training, Putz said he spoke with Mike Harkey, the pitching coach, about the importance of fast ball command and getting the first pitch in for a strike.
“Right now, I’m going with guys who are available,” said manager Kirk Gibson. “His split is good, he’s getting the ball over and he has experience. He’ll get some big innings for us.”
Coming into the Diamondbacks’ series, two of the Dodgers productive hitters were not hitting their weight.
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez sported a .189 batting average and centerfielder Matt Kemp checked in with a .167 average.
Despite the low average, there was no concern from Don Mattingly, the L. A. manager.
“Adrian is swinging the bat better but I think Matt has some rust,” Mattingly said before Friday’s game with the D-backs. “You know these guys will hit. They don’t panic.”
True to Mattingly’s observation, Gonzalez deposited Brandon McCarthy’s initial pitch over the right field fence in the first inning and the home run pushed the Dodgers off to a quick 2-0 start. That was before the D-backs took their first swing against lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu.