Archie Bradley still off as weary D-backs fall to Braves
PHOENIX — The only scoring for the Arizona Diamondbacks in Monday’s loss to the Atlanta Braves lent evidence to how out-of-whack they were.
Ender Inciarte’s pop fly to center field allowed Jarrod Saltalamacchia to tag and score from third, but the final out of the fifth inning came as Yasmany Tomas got greedy on the play. In attempting to tag at first and take second, Tomas easily was cut down, ending the D-backs’ scoring threat.
D-backs manager Chip Hale took the blame for such plays that led to the 8-1 home loss that came a day after his club lost a 17-inning barnburner in Milwaukee.
"We played tonight, unfortunately, like a team that played 17 innings yesterday and lost and traveled home," Hale said. "It’s embarrassing to me, it’s just not the way a team that I would ever want to coach would ever play a game. Just sloppy, dead baseball, and I apologize for that."
Even first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, whose defense Hale praised before first pitch, finished the evening with an error in the ninth inning.
The Diamondbacks fell behind as starting right-hander Archie Bradley again struggled to find his early-season magic. He threw 96 pitches in five innings and allowed eight hits and five earned runs. He walked three.
"My throwing sessions on the sides, my bullpens, everything, they feel good. I feel like I’m getting better, it’s just not translating," Bradley said.
Bradley seemed to have shaken off the last three disappointing starts with a quick first inning thanks to a double play. Another ground-ball double play started his second inning off strong, too, but the righty couldn’t take advantage.
The Braves recorded two hits — a low liner and a hard ground ball — that were inches beyond the reach of infielders Nick Ahmed and Aaron Hill, respectively. The hits put runners on second and third with two outs. Arizona intentionally loaded the bases, but pitcher Alex Wood smacked a two-RBI single for the game’s first runs, then reached second on a throwing error.
This night, it was less about command issues for Bradley. Hale didn’t like what he saw from his secondary pitches.
"I’ll throw a strikeout (secondary pitch) in a count where I need to throw for a strike, and then I’ll throw the one for a strike when I need to throw for a strikeout count," the pitcher said. "I just don’t know the difference right now."
Andrelton Simmons singled to give Atlanta a 3-0 lead heading to the bottom of the fifth frame, and Freddie Freeman shot a two-run bomb into the pool area of Chase Field to make it 5-0 Braves. Saltalamacchia doubled to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning, and Inciarte’s fly ball to score the catcher ended up the only run of the night.
Bradley wouldn’t blame his struggles on taking a liner to the face following a strong three-game start. Neither the idea of facing another comebacker nor the thought that time on the disabled list broke up a rhythm matter to him.
"Yeah, I haven’t pitched well since I came back, but I’m not scared," he said. "For me it’s just not pitching very well. No excuses."
It sounds like a broken record here, but Ahmed again showed his headiness with a bunt in the fifth inning that set up Saltalamacchia’s score. Not only that — Ahmed’s decision combined with execution. The bunt down the third base foul line died in a major way, just barely outside of the home plate circle.
* Hale said Bradley’s secondary pitches are not on, but he also worried about the pitcher’s fastball velocity. "It’s in the 92 range where we know he throws harder," Hale said. "(He’s) not letting it go and trying to throw more strikes. We have to figure out where he can let it go and let his stuff play how it’s supposed to play and still be confidence enough to throw strikes."
* A few radical D-backs shifts worked until they didn’t matter. Arizona moved Hill from third base to between the first and second basemen for the first at-bats by lefties Freddie Freeman and Jace Peterson, and both hit right into it. But Freeman later made infield positioning a non-issue when he took Bradley deep, and again in the sixth when he lined a shot against lefty Oliver Perez into right field for an RBI that scored Peterson.
* Arizona’s bullpen is in survival mode. Perez did his part despite giving up two earned runs in the sixth, but he looked more comfortable going two more innings and striking out four total. Hale said the team will discuss calling up a fresh arm from the minors. "We already did it with (Enrique) Burgos — we ran him into the ground and now he’s hurt," Hale said. "We just can’t do it. If we have to get another arm up here we do. But with Oliver’s three, it helps the rest of the guys."
– The worst of the injury news from Monday came when a medical examination of catcher Tuffy Gosewisch determined he suffered a full tear of his left ACL.
– He didn’t play because of matchups against Braves lefty Wood, but David Peralta’s hand injury suffered this weekend appears to be minor. Hale said he doesn’t expect it to place the outfielder on a disabled list. Peralta should be available as a pinch hitter but the D-backs will need to determine when and how he can throw the ball. Hale said Peralta’s hand looked "pretty gnarly yesterday."
– Pitcher Patrick Corbin, in an extended spring game at Salt River Fields on Monday, allowed two hits and a walk in 3 2/3 innings while striking out eight (36 strikes on 51 pitches). His velocity hung around 94 mph, a good sign after the D-backs backed him off following slow readings a few weeks ago, Hale said.
– Also at Salt River Fields, Jake Lamb took in a full game, going 1-for-4 from the plate with a triple while playing third base. Hale expects him to leave for Triple-A Reno on Tuesday. "I think he’s going to play a game, then DH a game, then play back-to-back, then we’ll evaluate where he is," Hale said.
– Reliever Matt Stites, who has been working his way back from elbow inflammation since spring, was pulled off the disabled list and optioned to Reno.