Bullpen Blows It for the Arizona Diamondbacks


Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Just as things were beginning to look up, the Arizona Diamondbacks squandered a 5-0 lead, falling 6-5 at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies.

For the first time as a member of the Diamondbacks, Bronson Arroyo pitched well.  His 6.1 innings of two-run ball, gave the team a legitimate chance at winning the second game of the series against the Phillies and their ace, Cliff Lee.

Then, the bullpen struck.

There are two separate viewpoints in this situation; either you blame General Manager Kevin Towers for not acquiring enough bodies to pitch in the set-up role, or you blame manager Kirk Gibson for using his ineffective starting pitchers as mirage set-up men.  No matter whom you blame, the outcome still stays the same. 

Trevor Cahill pitched just the eighth inning, but that was all the impact on the game he would need.  Allowing four hits and two walks, three runs crossed the plate that were his (plus Joe Thatcher’s unearned run), to push Philadelphia ahead 6-5 in the top of the eighth. 

More of a shame than the wasted effort by Arroyo was the fact that the D-Backs offense actually was able to hit the ball hard off one of the game’s premier pitchers in Cliff Lee.  Coming fresh off a dominant start against the loaded Los Angeles Dodgers, Lee could never have been expecting the blitz he received from Arizona batters.

The offensive flurry began early and often, with two runs crossing the plate via four singles in the first inning.  Driving in one of those runs was none other than Cody Ross, who has seemingly found his batting stroke after being mired in a dreadful slump to begin his season.

Tacking on an additional run in the second on A.J. Pollock’s RBI triple, the floodgates were beginning to creak open.  Just as it seemed the D-Backs were on the verge of another big inning, they ran themselves out of it.  With the infield drawn in, Pollock was inexplicably thrown out at home on a routine groundball to shortstop Jimmy Rollins.  Following that, with Paul Goldschmidt batting, Martin Prado was gunned down attempting to steal second.  At the time, no harm, no foul, but as the game dragged on, that additional run would have been helpful.

For the third consecutive inning in a row, runs were added to the D-Backs total, as Cody Ross stroked a one-out, two-RBI double to bring the lead up to 5-0.  After going 2-for-4 on the day with his three RBIs, Ross watched his average rocket up to .115, a byproduct of his glacial start. 

Just missing out on the cycle by a home run was A.J. Pollock.  He singled in the first, tripled in the second and doubled in the seventh, but flew out to right fielder Marlon Byrd in his last at-bat.

The theme of making outs on the basepaths continued on into the most crucial point of the game when Martin Prado made a mad dash for second once again.  An awkward slide made for high drama as second baseman Chase Utley kept the tag on him the entire way through, with Prado coming off the bag for just a split second.  The umpire on the field had him ruled safe, but via instant replay, Prado was called out. 

With two caught stealing’s, three errors made in the field and four runs allowed from the bullpen, it becomes quite the recipe to have to overcome to win a ballgame.  The theme of not playing sound baseball continued Saturday night in downtown Phoenix.

A chance to win a series presents itself to the Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon.  At 1:10 p.m., Brandon McCarthy looks for his first win in 2014 as he squares off against A.J. Burnett. 

Even with how demoralizing Saturday night’s loss was, these Diamondbacks have proven they’re a resilient bunch.