Change is inevitable for D-backs

PHOENIX — In one way, the Diamondbacks finished a stretch of 33 games in 34 days the way they started, losing to a contending team and its most dominant pitcher. 

From an Adam Wainwright one-hitter in St. Louis on May 20 to a Madison Bumgarner two-infield-hitter at Chase Field and a 4-1 loss Sunday, with Martin Prado preventing bookend shutouts in the D-backs’ 14-19 stretch with a ninth-inning single.

In other ways, the five weeks were so, so different.

It may have marked the beginning of the changing of the guard.

It is not far-fetched to believe the D-backs could make multiple moves before the July 31 trading deadline. Change could be considered almost mandatory for a team built to win with a $112 million payroll but with nowhere to go after dropping to an NL-worst 32-47. They are 15 games below .500 for the first time this season. Season-ending elbow injuries to Patrick Corbin and David Hernandez in March started the spiral.

"Figures we are sellers, not buyers," D-backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa was quoted in Sunday’s Boston Globe.

Giants 4, D-backs 1

It already has begun, although many of the early changes were dictated by injuries. The D-backs made 20 roster moves in the five weeks. Eric Chavez, A.J. Pollock, Cliff Pennington and Bronson Arroyo went on the disabled list. Trevor Cahill and J.J. Putz were designated for assignment, though Cahill remains in the organization after accepting a minor league assignment. 

Meanwhile, young players were given more responsibility. Left fielder David Peralta, center fielder Ender Inciarte and infielder Didi Gregorius are playing almost every day. Shortstop Chris Owings, who has been here from Day 1, is a strong rookie of the year candidate. Cody Ross recently has been coming off the bench as he works to regain his form following his devastating hip injury last August.

Newcomers Chase Anderson and Mike Bolsinger joined the rotation. Evan Marshall and Matt Stites joined into the bullpen, and all four appear to be principle elements moving forward. 

"We’ve had more changes than probably anybody," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We’re deep into our depth. We’re real young, but the guys are competing their tails off. They are not giving in. Playing hard. We have the belief that if we keep playing this way, that we will turn it around and starting winning a boat load of games."

In a way, Bolsinger’s start Sunday was a sign of the times.

Bolsinger stayed right with Bumgarner through seven innings, giving up one run on four hits before leaving with one out in the eighth. He located his fastball well and kept his curveball down in the longest of his seven major league appearances.

"It’s tough," Bolsinger said of facing the Giants ace. "He’s good. That’s why he’s probably going to be an All-Star this year. All I can do is try to keep the team in the game. We just got Bumgarner on one of his good days."

It was the kind of day the D-backs were looking for out of Bolsinger, too. He made five appearances after being promoted from Triple-A Reno on April 14 to replace Randall Delgado in the rotation, and showed well at times. Other times, he admitted he lost focus. Sent back to Reno on May 6, Bolsinger learned and grew. Since his return last week, he has made two quality starts, giving up four earned runs in 14 innings.

"I think He’s matured a bit," Gibson said. "You go down, and you are better prepared than the first time you came up there. It’s all about locating your pitches. There is something about him hiding the ball. You’re looking up and seeing 88, 89 miles an hour (on the radar gun), but the swings tell you that is it something different. He has some deception about him. He has some movement about him. He is really good at moving it around."

Bolsinger said focus was his main consideration after being sent down.

"’Miggy’ has really been on me about staying focused every pitch," Bolsinger said about catcher Miguel Montero. "He’ll get on you, and I think that’s something I need. I thank him for that. He’s made me a better pitcher."

Bolsinger struck out four Sunday, getting Pablo Sandoval with a fastball out of the strike zone high and three others on curve balls, two in the dirt.

"I think it’s more mental," said of the adjustments made after he went down. "I just have to stay focused. If I can do that, I think I can go out there and pitch well. I learned a lot about pitching. I learned a lot about myself, what kind of pitcher I am. And I learned about what I need to do to become a better pitcher up here."

The D-backs started only three of the same players who were in the lineup on May 20, when they began a streak of 33 games in 34 days. Two of their starters were rested, Gerardo Parra and Owings, but three of the starters Sunday were in the minor leagues when this stretch began.

6 — times the Giants walked Paul Goldschmidt in the series.

San Francisco has begun to treat Goldschmidt with extreme caution, the way the D-backs used to treat Barry Bonds back in the old days. The Giants walked Goldschmidt twice Sunday and six times during the three-game series, twice walking him even though it loaded the bases. Goldschmidt was the only player beside Ross who reached off Bumgarner in the first eight innings.

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