So far this season, one of the Diamondbacks’ biggest enigma remains their inability to win at home.
Starting their current, six-game home stand, Arizona had dropped 15 of its 18 home games and that includes a pair to the Dodgers in Australia. With the prospect of cashing in on a plethora of home games over the next seven weeks, the task at hand is clear.
To recover from a humble and humiliating start to the baseball season, Diamondbacks need to start winning at home. To that end, D-backs closer Addison Reed could not hold a one-run, ninth inning lead and the Diamondbacks dropped a 6-5 decision to the Washington Nationals before 16,555 Monday night. That’s the smallest crowd of the season in Chase Field.
The loss dropped Arizona’s home run record to 3-16 and the Diamondbacks continue to lose at home at an alarming rate. Plus, the D-backs were 11-0 in their last 11 games when leading after the eighth inning.
Then again, ask Reed how important winning at home can be to a struggling team.
Not only did Reed blow a ninth inning save but further embarrassed himself by losing.
Coming into as the D-backs’ closer in the ninth and holding a 5-4 lead, Reed proceeded to give up a leadoff home run to Danny Espinosa to tie the game and then Kevin Frandsen unloaded with his second, career pinch home run two outs later and that was the margin of difference.
Despite the melt-down, Reed received an important vote of confidence.
“(Reed’s) saved 11 of his last 13 outings and he’s our closer,” said manager Kirk Gibson. “(Monday night), he didn’t have real good location but he’s been very good for us. He didn’t have as much coming out but generally, he’s been throwing the ball very well.”
Increasing, Reed is becoming a one-dimension pitcher. Though his fast ball jumps at the plate in the mid-90s, his ball is straight, has no movement and no location. Hitters like to sit on straight fast balls and Reed is becoming infamous for allowing critical, late-inning home runs.
The two home runs in the ninth inning, Reed indicated, were just plan, bad pitches.
“The pitches were not in good locations,” Reed said. “On the first one (to Espinosa) that was down the middle and he made me pay. On the one to Fransden, that was another bad pitch. Location is the key and I left those pitches up and over the plate.”
Despite a recent, heavy workload, Reed said he felt strong.
“No, I feel fine,” he said. “I need to work more on my slider and that’s a work in progress. Yeah, the home runs came off the fast balls and they just hit them out.”
Reed’s implosion Monday night negated what Gibson called, “a real good game for us. The hitting is coming around and the defense played well.”
Twice Arizona took the lead against Nationals’ right-hander Jordan Zimmerman and A. J. Pollock’s two-run home run with one out in the sixth could have been the game-changer.
The Diamondbacks knocked out Zimmerman in the sixth and 10 hits surrendered by Zimmerman represented a season high.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks demonstrated resiliency against Zimmerman and showed some life in their attempt to gain leverage from their terrible start.
Down 2-0 in the third, they took the lead in that frame with three doubles and a RBI single from catcher Miguel Montero.
After the Nationals responded with a two-run home run off the bat of Ian Desmond in the fourth, Pollock took over in the fifth and hit the fourth home run off of Zimmerman this season.
That 5-4 lead held until the ninth and Reed’s battle with imperfection.