Diamondbacks Shoot Themselves in the Foot, Bow to Padres

Padres Diamondbacks

Padres 7, Diamondbacks 5

PHOENIX, Aug. 30 — Sloppy defense reigned in the first two innings, helping the San Diego Padres take a 4–0 lead that they never relinquished en route to a 7–5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks Monday night.

The miscues came largely in the first two innings. In the first, center fielder Trent Grisham drew a leadoff walk. After shortstop Jake Cronenworth popped foul to his counterpart and third baseman Manny Machado fanned, right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. dug in. During his at-bat, left-hander Tyler Gilbert threw to first. The move fooled Grisham, and the Diamondbacks had him caught in a rundown. However, second baseman Josh Rojas muffed first baseman Christian Walker’s throw, and Grisham was safe at second. On the next pitch, Tatis made them pay, belting a no-doubt home run into the left-center-field bleachers for a 2–0 lead.

In the top of the second, a leadoff double by left fielder Wil Myers combined with a one-out single by catcher Austin Nola to extend the lead to 3–0. Pitcher Chris Paddack, in a sacrifice situation, followed with a well-placed bunt up the first-base line. Walker, charging hard, picked it up and wheeled to fire to first. However, catcher Daulton Varsho got too close to Walker, and Walker’s hand hit Varsho’s chest while rearing back to fire. Everyone was safe, bringing up Grisham with runners on the corners and one out instead of runner on third and two out. Grisham also bunted to the right side, placing it between the mound and first base. Walker had to field it. He threw to first, timing it so that it would reach the bag as Rojas did, but Grisham beat the throw. 4–0.

Lighting a Fire

After the half-inning ended, manager Torey Lovullo tore into his fielders in the dugout, something Lovullo typically does not do. “I’m human. I have my emotions, and I have my breaking point,” Lovullo said after the game. The speech turned around the defensive play, but the damage had already been done.

It wouldn’t have been as bad for the Diamondbacks had they been able to hold the Padres scoreless the rest of the way. That, however, did not happen. Tatis led off the third with a single. A pair of force plays (1–4 and 4–6) brought up Frazier with Myers on first and two out. After Myers stole second, Frazier singled to right, plating Myers and making the score 5–0.

The Diamondbacks made it a 5–1 ballgame in the fifth. It started with a two-out single by Varsho, who advanced to third on a single by shortstop Nick Ahmed. As pinch-hitter Jake McCarthy batted, relief pitcher Craig Stammen uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Varsho and advancing Ahmed to second. McCarthy could not extend the inning, flying to left for the third out.

Diamondbacks Climb to within a Run, Padres Hang On

Eric Hosmer hit a solo home run in the top of the seventh, making the score 6–1. It seemed academic at the time, but the bottom of the seventh turned it into a key hit. Former Diamondback Daniel Hudson took the mound and promptly walked the first batter, third baseman Josh VanMeter. Varsho advanced him to third with a double. After consecutive strikeouts by Ahmed and pinch-hitter Andrew Young, Rojas drew a walk to load the bases. In came Emilio Pagan to pitch to the ever-dangerous Ketel Marte. Marte blasted an 0–1 cutter into the right-field bleachers for the third grand slam of his career, cutting the Padres lead to 6–5. Pavin Smith — the eighth hitter of the inning — followed with an inning-ending strikeout.

The top of the ninth saw the Padres pad their lead. Against new pitcher J.B. Wendelken, Machado got the ball rolling with a loud one-out double off the wall in left-center. Tatis followed with one of his own, almost exactly to the same spot. 7–5. The Diamondbacks wanted no part of the next hitter — Hosmer, who has nine home runs against the Diamondbacks since the beginning of 2017 — so they walked him intentionally. That brought up pinch-hitter Jake Marisnick, who ripped a low liner near third. VanMeter, going to his left, made a diving catch for the second out and quickly threw to second to double up Tatis, retiring the side.

National League saves leader Mark Melancon pitched around a one-out double in a scoreless bottom of the ninth to earn his 35th save of the season.

Josh Rojas Reflects on the Game

Padres starter Chris Paddack started his first game since July 27. According to Rojas, Paddack had a nasty curveball working for him. “I knew, first time through, he was going to be heavy with his heater, trying to get on top of it,” Rojas said. After missing “a couple of good pitches to hit,” Rojas said that Paddack “threw that first curveball down that I would manage to get a piece of somehow but just didn’t quite see it.”

As for the first-inning error, Rojas said it was a matter of trying to get the tag down too quickly. “(I) tried to make the tag before I made the catch,” he said. “That would have been the third out, and then the next ball gets hit out of the park for two runs. And that’s not what you want. I felt terrible for Gilbert. He (made a) great pickoff, gave us a chance to get out of the inning unscathed (and) send us into the bottom of the first. (Then I) don’t make a catch there, don’t make the tag, free runner, and Tatis made us pay.”

Looking Ahead

The Padres (70–62) inched to within a half-game of the Cincinnati Reds — who lost, 3–1, to the St. Louis Cardinals — for the second Wild Card spot, while the Diamondbacks (44–89) remain on pace to lose 108 games in the season. Game Two of the three-game series will be Tuesday evening at 6:40 Arizona time. Zac Gallen (2–7, 4.32 ERA) will take the hill for the Diamondbacks against Padres left-hander Blake Snell (6–5, 4.58 ERA).

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Players/managers mentioned:

Trent Grisham, Torey Lovullo, Jake Cronenworth, Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Josh RojasChristian Walker, Wil MyersAustin NolaChris Paddack, Daulton Varsho, Nick AhmedJake McCarthyCraig Stammen, Eric Hosmer, Daniel Hudson, Josh VanMeter, Andrew Young, Emilio PaganKetel Marte, Pavin Smith, J.B. Wendelken, Jake Marisnick, Mark Melancon, Zac GallenBlake Snell, Tyler Gilbert