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Diamondbacks Strand Nine, Suffer Frustrating Loss to Dodgers

Dodgers Diamondbacks

Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1

PHOENIX, May 29 — The Los Angeles Dodgers only had four hits, but they made them count en route to a 3–1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks Sunday afternoon. Will Smith slapped a solo home run in the second. An RBI single by Freddie Freeman and RBI groundout by Trea Turner, both in the third inning, combined with the dinger to complete the Dodgers’ scoring. For the Diamondbacks, an RBI pinch-triple by David Peralta in the bottom of the ninth scored Alek Thomas from first to prevent the shutout.

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The game, like most of the season series thus far, was competitive, but the result was familiar — a Dodgers victory. “I don’t like moral victories,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said, “I like wins — I want this team to win baseball games. And we’ve got to find a way to get that done. I don’t care whom we’re playing.” That hasn’t happened much against the Dodgers, who have won nine of the eleven meetings between the teams so far and the last eight in a row. In the two Diamondbacks victories, the Dodgers essentially beat themselves, as fielding errors played a significant role in each outcome.

Dodgers Strand Diamondbacks Runners Time and Time Again

It’s not like the Diamondbacks didn’t have their chances Sunday afternoon. They left nine men on base, four in scoring position. Second baseman Ketel Marte hit a fruitless two-out double in the first off starter Tyler Anderson, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. But first baseman Christian Walker had another hard-hit ball fail to find a gap. This time, his sharp liner to center was almost directly to Chris Taylor, who only shuffled three or four steps to his right to make the catch.

The bottom of the fifth brought more frustration. Thomas, the center fielder, led off the bottom of the fifth with a single. He reached third thanks to a sacrifice bunt by Jake Hager and grounder to second by catcher Jose Herrera. But after left fielder Cooper Hummel walked, third baseman Josh Rojas whiffed, and Thomas was left standing at third, waiting for a teammate to bring him his glove and hat.

Another opportunity came in the sixth. Walker singled with one out. Right fielder Jake McCarthy hit a bouncer to the right side of second base. With the overshift in place, this was the shortstop’s ball. Turner, however, tried to run the ball to second before he actually fielded it. The ball clanked off his glove, and everyone was safe. Geraldo Perdomo, however, couldn’t capitalize. His one-hopper up the middle was fielded easily by Anderson, starting an inning-ending 1–4–3 double play.

The two-out triple by Peralta in the bottom of the ninth not only scored Thomas — who reached after being hit in the foot by Dodgers closer Craig Kimbrel — but brought up Hummel as the tying run. However, Kimbrel fooled him with a 2-2 knuckle curve, which clipped the outside corner for a called third strike and the final out.

Diamondbacks Relievers Keep Dodgers off the Bases

Although Davies fell in an early 3–0 hole, he pitched effectively in the fourth and fifth, doling out 1-2-3 innings in both. After locking up Freeman with a generous called third strike, he allowed a single to Turner and walked Will Smith. That brought in left-handed reliever Caleb Smith, who promptly picked Turner off second and retired third baseman Edwin Rios on a fly to center. Smith went on to pitch a 1-2-3 seventh, making a slick play to nab Taylor on a bunt attempt before retiring the next two hitters on grounders.

“I felt a lot better about getting better guys and using all my stuff to be able to make them put it in play for soft contact,” Davies said after the game. “(Herrera) was behind the dish was calling a great game… the defense behind me makes plays, night in and night out. I was happy about, collecting myself after the second third and tried to get through six, but not quite.”

It was Davies’ first appearance after taking a 112-mph drive off the shin the previous Monday. Davies said, “I got a little bit tired towards the end, but I checked off all the boxes before today. I was happy with where it was and was able to manage it through my bullpen with no worries. So I wasn’t worried about anything going into the game.”

J.B. Wendelken pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. Catcher Austin Barnes flied to right before Betts and Freeman grounded to short and third, respectively. Sean Poppen hurled a perfect ninth, as Turner popped to second, Will Smith flied to right, and Rios grounded to short.

Postgame Reflections

“It wasn’t an ideal series for us,” Lovullo reflected. “We made a game of it in the ninth inning with some real clutch hitting by David. It gave us a chance to bring the tying run up to home plate. But prior to that, I felt like we could have done a few things in better fashion. Our out-of-zone chase rate was a little bit too high. We got to continue to preach patience to these hitters and let them understand how to how important it is to eliminate chase, force a pitcher to get on the plate and make mistakes, and then punish those mistakes.

“That’s been the theme for the times that we’ve done a really good job of putting up some crooked numbers. Defensively, there were some very good moments, but we threw to the wrong base, which gave a free 90 feet to this team. You can’t do that when you’re playing this group.”

Lovullo praised Davies for his efforts. “There were a couple of hiccups, and I expect those from starting pitching. It’s not always going to be pristine, but he was attacking the zone. I’ve talked about attacking things when you’re pitching, attack the strike zone when you’re hitting, attack the ball defensively. Zach did a really good job of that. Coming off the injury, the line drive off his back push leg, I thought he did a really nice job for us. He gutted it out. I know he wasn’t 100%, but I still know that it was a long four or five days to get ready for today’s start. He did a very good job pitching into the sixth inning for us.”

Looking Ahead

Anderson (6–0) earned the win after scattering five hits over six scoreless innings. Davies (2–3) took the loss, while Kimbrel notched a pyrrhic save.

The Diamondbacks will not see the Dodgers again until September. Given that the Diamondbacks are 21–17 against the rest of their opponents, this will come as a welcome relief to their fanbase. However, over the next three days, the Diamondbacks will have to face the defending champion Atlanta Braves (23–25). Zac Gallen (3–0, 2.22) and Spencer Strider (1–1, 2.22) will take the mound for the Diamondbacks and Braves, respectively, in a battle of righties. First pitch will be at 5:10 pm Arizona Time.

Special thanks to Jim Marshall and Alex Weiner (Arizona Sports 98.7) for their contributions to this piece.

Main Photo:
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Players/managers mentioned:

Will Smith, Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner, David Peralta, Alek Thomas, Torey Lovullo, Ketel Marte, Tyler Anderson, Christian Walker, Chris Taylor, Jake Hager, Jose Herrera, Cooper Hummel, Josh Rojas, Jake McCarthy, Geraldo Perdomo, Craig Kimbrel, Caleb Smith, Edwin Rios, J.B. Wendelken, Austin Barnes, Sean Poppen, Zac Gallen, Spencer Strider


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