The first time was like a charm.
Now, let’s see how the National League catches up with Diamondbacks’ left-hander Vidal Nuno.
Acquired from the Yankees for Brandon McCarthy over the past weekend, Nuno made his 15th start of the season but his first for Arizona. This is where the pot thickens.
Nuno turned in a great performance in his National League debut Tuesday night but came away with a no-decision before 18,319 in Chase Field. The pitiful ending was left to Arizona closer Addison Reed, who gave up a two-run home run to Marcell Ozuna with two-out in the ninth and the Marlins walked away with a 2-1 win.
For Reed, that was his fifth blown save of the season, and his demise is usually walks and home runs in the ninth inning.
That was exactly the scenario Tuesday night. Reed opened the ninth with a walk to Ed Lucas and then burned by Ozuna.
At least for one night in this forgettable season, the hour belonged to Nuno.
“Thought I mixed my pitches well and put up zeros,” Nuno said, who retired 17 of the last 19 hitters he faced. “I was very pleased and wanted to make the hitters guess. Now, I’m ready to move on to my next outing.”
The immediate result could be a boost to a starting rotation that has been through more changes than Madonna’s wardrobe during any performance.
“(Nino) was great,” observed manager Kirk Gibson. “He showed great command of the strike zone and gave us seven great innings. He did his job.”
If Nuno held up his part of the bargain, Diamondbacks’ hitters essentially took the night off. They were 1-12 with runners in scoring position, scored one run and that was unearned, and left 11 on base.
“When you leave that many on, everything gets magnified,” Gibson added. “We had our chances.”
The Diamondbacks managed that unearned run in the fifth and Nuno, a 5-11, 195 native of San Diego, made it hold up. Through a solid seven innings of work, the 26-year-old allowed three hits, walked one, and that was in the first, fanned a career-high seven hitters and threw 91 pitches.
Nuno was impressive with a change that kept Marlins’ hitters off-balanced and first pitch strike command.
“That’s my style,” Nuno said of landing a strike on the first pitch to a hitter. “Keep my focus and keep driving.”
To place another emphasis on a rather memorable evening, Nuno scored the D-backs’ only run of the game. He also contributed with two sacrifice bunts in three trips to the plate.
Leading off the fifth, he reached base on an error by third baseman Casey McGehee and moved to second on a bunt single from Endar Inciarte. Aaron Hill followed with a sharp single to left and Nuno scored what proved to be the go-ahead run.
Hanging precariously to that one-run lead in the ninth, Reed could not slam the door.
After walking Lucas, he managed to strike out Giancarlo Stanton and McGehee lined to center. Then, Reed delivered his signature pitch of the season, a fast ball to Ozuna, who drove the offering well above the yellow, home run line above the 407 sign in straight-way center.
“(Reed) missed his spot and has to learn to mix his pitches,” Gibson of the fast-ball delivery to Ozuna. “He wanted to get it down and away but grooved it over the plate.”
For his part, Reed was not available to the media after the game and many took that as a sign that the reliever just didn’t want to talk about another blown save.
Coming into Tuesday’s game with the Marlins, outfielder Cody Ross needed one RBI to reach 500 for his career.
Though he will have to wait another day, Ross had two opportunities Tuesday night to reach that target number.
With runners on first and third and two out in the fifth, Ross grounded to second to end the threat.
Then, Ross had another chance in the seventh. With Paul Goldschmidt on second with his 34th double of the season and two outs, Ross again grounded to second.
HOME RUN DERBY UPDATE
While Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt declined participation in the Home Run Derby next Monday night in Target Field, there may be a strong explanation.
“(Goldschmidt) is really not interested in this,” manager Kirk Gibson said before Tuesday’s home game with Miami. “If you look at Goldy in batting practice, he really doesn’t hit it out. He has a routine and his choice is not to participate. That’s his own personal preference.”
After games of Tuesday night, Goldschmidt was hitting .312 with 16 home runs and 59 RBIs.
Captain Troy Tulowitzki selected the Reds' Todd Frasier, Dodgers' Yasiel Puig and Giancarlo Stanton of Miami to compete for the National League.
For the American League, it will be captain Jose Bautisa of the Jays, last year's winner Yoenis Cespedes of Oakland, the Orioles' Adam Jones and Brian Dozier of the Twins.
A fifth player for each league will be announced Thursday.