In a season full of wonder and surprise, the D-backs took a punch to the face Thursday night. With three home games against the struggling Reds left before the All-Star break, it's time to see whether it will have lasting effects or if they can pick themselves off the canvas.
The punch came in the form of an epic ninth-inning rally by the Dodgers on Thursday night against closer Fernando Rodney, wiping out a 4-1 lead, sending the D-backs to a third-consecutive one-run loss against the team they are chasing in the NL West and dropping them to 5 1/2 games behind.
"It's certainly a tough loss to absorb," manager Torey Lovullo said. "The Dodgers beat us fair and square. Hopefully we can grow from these experiences."
The good news is they are still 52-34 -- the third-best record in baseball -- they are back in the friendly confines of Chase Field (where they are 32-13 this year), and they have ace Zack Greinke on the mound tonight as they try to halt their three-game slide. They've had six three-game skids so far this season, but they've yet to lose four in a row.
Greinke, one of four Arizona All-Stars, has won his past two decisions and four of his past five. He was the winning pitcher in a victory over Colorado on Saturday, giving up two runs and three hits while striking out eight in seven innings.
He is tied for second in the NL in wins, is third in WHIP (1.02) and sixth in ERA. He is unbeaten at Chase Field, going 8-0 with a 2.67 ERA in 10 starts while averaging 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
Greinke is 7-2 with a 2.40 ERA in 12 career starts against the Reds, which the last one coming in 2015 with the Dodgers. He'll know to be careful with Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto, who has a career .414 batting average with three homers and three doubles in 34 plate appearances against Greinke.
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Reds starting pitcher Tim Adleman (5-5, 4.67 ERA)
Adleman is making his first career appearance against Arizona. He is 3-3 with a 3.64 ERA in his past eight starts. He took the loss in his last outing on Sunday against the Cubs, giving up six hits -- including two home runs -- and three runs in five innings.
Adleman has given up 18 home runs in 79 innings, a rate of 2.05 per nine innings that ranks as sixth highest in the majors.
Cincinnati's pitching staff has the highest ERA in the major leagues (5.17), it leads the majors in home runs allowed (144) and is second in most walks allowed (320).
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Scouting the Reds
Cincinnati (37-48) is coming off a four-game split with the Rockies in Denver, winning the series finale 6-3 on Thursday afternoon. Even so, they are 4-16 in their past 20 road games.
The Reds are not lacking for power. They are the only team in the majors to have three players with 20 or more home runs: Joey Votto (24), Scott Schebler (21) and Adam Duvall (20). Infielder Scooter Gennett has also been a major surprise, hitting .317 while already matching his career high with 14 home runs. "Collectively, as a whole group, we've been swinging it well," Duvall said.
Votto is rivaling Paul Goldschmidt as the NL's premier first baseman. He's hitting .316 with 62 RBI and a 1.051 OPS, compared with Goldschmidt's .314, 66 and 1.009. Votto is batting .382 with 10 home runs and a .462 on-base percentage over the past month. Gennett tied a major-league record with four home runs in a game on June 6, and he hasn't tapered off much. In his last 13 games, he's 20 for 47 (.426) with five hone runs, 16 runs and nine RBI.
The Reds don't often beat themselves defensively. They lead the majors with 41 Defensive Runs Saved (the D-backs are -13), and their 43 errors are fifth fewest (the D-backs have 56).
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After being limited to one run over 21 innings by the Dodgers' starting pitchers in Los Angeles, the D-backs' hitters should welcome the opportunity to dig in against the Reds staff at Chase Field.
Among those most in need of some home cooking are Paul Goldschmidt (5 for 32, 1 RBI in his last nine games) and Brandon Drury (6 for 39, 3 RBI in his last 11).
A.J. Pollock will be playing in front of the home crowd for the first time since May 14. Pollock is batting .337 with 18 runs scored in 21 games at Chase this season.