Padres, Hitting Woes Doom Diamondbacks

Padres Diamondbacks

Padres 5, Diamondbacks 1

Designated hitter Wil Myers hit a three-run home run, and third baseman Manny Machado added a two-run homer as the San Diego Padres defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-1, Saturday night at Petco Park.

Pitchers’ Duel Early

Diamondbacks left-hander Robbie Ray and Padres right-hander Dinelson Lamet traded zeroes for the first three innings. Lamet only allowed one hit – a two-out double in the third by second baseman Ketel Marte – while walking one and striking out five. Ray retired the first eight hitters he saw – five via the punchout – before allowing a single to the ninth hitter, center fielder Trent Grisham. After walking shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. to put runners on first and second, Ray fanned Machado to end the inning.

The fourth inning was a different story. Center fielder Starling Marte led off the top of the inning with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a passed ball. Two batters later, DH Christian Walker stroked a double to right, scoring Marte and giving the Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead. Walker advanced to third on a single to right by right fielder Kole Calhoun. They remained on the corners, however, as catcher Stephen Vogt and first baseman Jake Lamb followed with a called strikeout and a grounder back to the mound, respectively.

Ray walked the first hitter in the bottom of the fourth, Pham. He stole two bases in Friday’s game, so Ray kept a close eye on him. Ray fooled him with a pickoff move, but Pham sprinted to second fast enough to beat first baseman Jake Lamb’s throw, and he stole second anyway. After second baseman Jurickson Profar popped to first, first baseman Ty France singled. This put runners on the corners for Myers, who deposited the sixth pitch into the (empty) left-field seats to give the Padres a 3-1 lead. Ray said, “I tried to go backdoor with a curveball, and it came back over the middle. It was middle-middle – just a bad pitch.”

Ray Runs out of Gas

After a double by right fielder Edward Olivares – his first major league hit – and a strikeout by catcher Austin Hedges, Grisham walked. This ended Ray’s day, as Stefan Crichton took over and got Tatis to fly to center. This ended the inning with the Padres leading, 3-1.

Although Ray started well, the third and fourth inning saw him run into trouble due to something that haunted him in 2019: a high pitch count. After the game, manager Torey Lovullo said, “He got off to a really good start, attacking the zone. He gave us a good chance to take the lead. In the third and fourth inning, it built up on him. He had too many three-ball counts and was not attacking the zone the way he was. (He was) not finishing off hitters when he had the opportunity. It was two consecutive innings that were very, very long and were grinding on him. In those two innings, he lacked consistency and the repeatability that we’ve seen from him in the last several outings of summer camp.”

Ray added, “I was battling my timing a little bit the whole game. I felt like I was getting a little quick. Obviously, it was the first time I was facing someone with a different jersey on this year. You could credit that to adrenaline. I was getting under the ball – fastballs were riding up and away on me. (This had me) falling behind in some counts. I was getting away with it, because I feel like my stuff was really good tonight when it was in the zone. That’s something to take away from it, for sure – that when it was in the zone, it was really good.”

Diamondbacks Bats Go Silent

The Diamondbacks went down in order in the fifth, and Crichton pitched a scoreless bottom of the fifth despite allowing two baserunners. In the top of the sixth, a leadoff double by Starling Marte put a runner in scoring position with no outs. Consecutive grounders to the left side by third baseman Eduardo Escobar and Walker brought Calhoun to the plate with two gone and Marte still on second. On 0-2, Marte broke for third. He was out on a close play, retiring the side while violating one of the cardinal rules of baseball – never make the first or last out at third base.

Marte’s double was the not only the last Diamondbacks hit of the evening, but it was also the only one beyond the fourth inning. The only other baserunner the Diamondbacks had beyond the fourth, in fact, was second baseman Ketel Marte, who reached on a throwing error with one out in the top of the eighth.

It seems like the main reason for the offensive woes is that, odd as it may sound, the hitters are trying too hard. “We’re trying to do too much per at-bat,” Lovullo said. “We have two walks in two games, (and we were) forcing things on the bases. Those are small signs that show me that we’re fighting to make something happen. In this game, you’ve got to allow the game to come to you. (You have to) patiently wait for mistakes. Trust your teammate, the person in back of you, that he’s going to be doing the job. That’s Diamondback baseball. We’ll continue to remind these guys that that’s what it’s all about for us. I’m looking to see some patience at the plate and for us to execute the way I know that we can.”

Padres Finish It Off

The Padres padded their lead in the seventh. This came after a leadoff double by Tatis and a home run by Machado, who came up next.

Lamet earned the win while Ray took the loss. Padres reliever Matt Strahm pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Craig Stammen pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Both earned holds. Kirby Yates – the 2019 save leader for both the NL and the AL – pitched a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation.

The two teams will square off again Sunday for the third game of this four-game stretch. Zac Gallen will face Garrett Richards in a battle of right-handers. First pitch is at 1:10 pm Pacific Time.

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