PHOENIX — The Diamondbacks’ offense has diminished the longer this pivotal homestand has gone on, and another abrupt stop against an unlikely candidate was too much for manager Kirk Gibson to take.
The D-backs hit into as many double plays and as they had hits in a 4-1 loss to the Blue Jays and right-hander Esmil Rogers on Labor Day, a day after they suffered an 8-2 loss to the Giants and right-hander Yusmeiro Petit.
“Everybody is that damn good? C’mon,” Gibson said, glaring.
“Everybody isn’t Cy Young. And you know what, sometimes you have to beat Cy Young. You have to figure out a way to do it. That part is disappointing. Not to say they didn’t make some good pitches. Not to say if you do everything you are not going to lose. But overall, we’re not happy with the way it has been coming out. You have to grind a little harder, make it a little tougher on them.”
Rogers gave up one hit and one walk in 6 1/3 innings and had only three three-ball counts. He had not won in his last 11 starts, getting his first victory since June 16 by attacking the strike zone. He thew first-pitch strikes to 13 of the 20 batters he faced, striking out five and walking one. Rogers struck out five before leaving after his only walk in the seventh inning, and the D-backs made 17 groundball outs.
“We didn’t make an adjustment. Obviously he was throwing the ball low in the zone. You have to wait him out, get some pitches on his arm and make him to where he is elevating the ball a little bit,” Gibson said.
“You saw how quickly Gibbons took him out. He isn’t throwing the ball that well. He threw a good game today, but I think when you have a guy going like that, you have to try to make an adjustment on it. We didn’t do that.”
This after Petit struck out a career-high 10 in six-plus innings Sunday.
Rogers faced the minimum 18 batters through the first six innings, and the D-backs did not get a runner to second base until Tony Campana walked and stole second to open the seventh. That inning ended with a double-play grounder, as did the second, eighth and ninth.
Bloomquist singled in fellow pinch hitter Cliff Pennington in the ninth inning for the D-backs’ run, but NL RBI leader Goldschmidt grounded into a double play to end the game.
“He did a good job. I think we had some decent at-bats, we just couldn’t get anything going,” Goldschmidt said. “He got ahead and was keeping the ball down and throwing strikes, mixing up his pitches. I’m sure guys were trying to make adjustments and trying to have good at-bats. We just really, as a team, didn’t get enough going to really have any opportunities until the last innings.”
This was not the way the D-backs (69-67) wanted — and probably needed — to begin the stretch run. They have lost eight of their last 12 and are seven games behind the Reds in the race for the second NL wild card.
Offensive consistency has been the recent issue. Gibson has tried several lineups in recent weeks, with Campana or Gerardo Parra or Willie Bloomquist at the top, but the results have been sporadic. After opening the homestand with 6-1 and 10-9 victories over the Padres, the D-backs have scored only eight runs in the five games since, losing four. They were 5 for 9 with runners in scoring position in a 4-3 victory over the Giants on Saturday but have gone 3 for 27 in the losses.
“We’ve had some good games. It just hasn’t been as consistent as we would have liked overall,” said Goldschmidt, who has 104 RBIs. “When you are not consistent, you are not going to win a ton of games. We will win here and there, and that is kind of what happened.”
The D-backs received another strong outing from Brandon McCarthy, a complete game that was somewhat tainted by Edwin Encarnacion’s two-run home run in the ninth for a 4-0 lead. McCarthy gave up only five hits and did not walk a batter, and he retired 16 in a row at one point after hitting Encarnacion with two outs in the third.
“When a guy pitches like that, you have to give him a few more runs,” Goldschmidt said. “As a pitcher, you are pitching with a lot of pressure, knowing one pitch could give up the lead or whatever.”