Despite a horrendous record, right-hander Brandon McCarthy is not as bad as his record would indicate.
That’s the assessment of manager Kirk Gibson when asked about McCarthy over recent weeks. The broken record continued Saturday when Gibson again came to support of his right-hander.
After dropping a 5-0 decision to the Cincinnati Reds before 23,765 Saturday night in Chase Field, there is likely more to the McCarthy saga than the Diamondbacks have listeners believe.
In lowering his season mark to 1-7, McCarthy could be on the brink as the first Arizona pitcher to drop 20 or more games in a season. Brandon Webb holds the club record for most losses in a season and that was 16 in 2004.
For now, McCarthy seems to say all the right things but is clearly troubled by his inability to find reasons for his current ruin. His only victory this season was a 4-3 win in San Diego on May 3.
“What happened (Saturday) was similar to the last five, six starts and I’m not finding answers,” he said. “That’s pretty disheartening.”
After the Reds batted around in the fourth and scored three runs, this one was unofficially over. Cincinnati right-hander Johnny Cueto took care of the rest and he limited the Diamondbacks on five hits until taken out in the eighth inning.
Afterward, McCarthy continued to search for a way out of his current circumstances. On Saturday, he was no match for Cueto.
With his win Saturday, Cueto lowered his ERA to 1.88, and also snapped a personal two game losing skid, Cueto won for the first time since shut out San Diego with a three-hitter on May 15.
For McCarthy, the mysteries of the season continue.
“Something is missing and I’m not sure what it is,” McCarthy added. “If my fast ball is flattening, I didn’t see it. I‘m starting to give up runs again and I need to find some answers.”
Manager Kirk Gibson saw some things Saturday that may have eluded McCarthy.
“(McCarthy) is fine, but the way he was pitching (Saturday), it was time to get him out of there,” Gibson said. “It was a matter of execution and looked like his fastball flattened on him.”
At the end, the Diamondbacks made things interesting.
Down 5-0, they loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but reliever Jonathan Braxton struck out Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero popped to shortstop to end the frame.
That was one of two threats on the night. The other was in the first inning. That’s when Gerardo Parra and Goldschmidt singled to create a first-and-third situation with one out. Cueto then settled down. Montero grounded to second and Martin Prado bounced to the mound to end the inning.
Afterward, Gibson was asked if there was any concern surrounding McCarthy and his 1-7 record.
“There’s always concern when you lose,” Gibson replied. “It doesn’t matter is it’s pitching, hitting or something else.”
ONE BAD BREAK
If things are not going the Diamondbacks way in the first two months, they were hit with bad news during Saturday’s game.
Centerfielder A. J. Pollock, who is leading the team with a .316 batting average, will not be swinging the bat any time soon.
Pollock sustained a fractured right hand in the eighth inning Saturday when he was hit by Johnny Cueto. Wearing a protective bandage when he met with reporters after the game, Pollock said more tests are needed to determine the full extent of the injury.
“It’s frustrating but part of baseball,” Pollock said. “There’s nothing I can do except listen to the medical staff and do what they tell me to do.”
This is second major injury Pollock sustained in his career. In 2010, he missed the entire season after suffering a right elbow fracture during spring training. He came back the following year in 2011 and hit .307 in 133 games for Double A-Mobile.
“It’s a big blow to us,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “He’s emerging and has been a huge difference for us.”
In his six games prior to the injury, Pollock hit .464 (12-for-23).
Pollock will go on the disabled list Sunday and general manager Kevin Towers will make a roster move to fill Pollock’s spot.
After Saturday’s game, Gibson said he was uncertain who would play centerfield every day and his options are Gerardo Parra or Ender Inciarte, both left-handed hitters, for starters.