D-backs fall to expansion-era depths

PHOENIX — The Diamondbacks certainly thought these days were long gone.

But after a 9-0 loss to the New York Mets on Tuesday at Chase Field, the D-backs tied the 1998 expansion team for the worst start in franchise history at 4-13.

That was a team of mostly spare parts. This is a $110 million machine.

The game begins and almost always is decided on the mound, and that is where the D-backs have not found any consistency this year.

Bronson Arroyo gave up nine runs in 3 1-3 innings to send the D-backs to their fifth straight loss. They were down, 9-0, before they got their first hit off Mets right-hander Jennry Mejia and his 94 mph cut fastball in the fourth inning.

"It’s discouraging, for sure," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said.

The ultra-aggressive Mets needed only 17 pitches to score three runs in the first inning, and a six-run third inning sealed the outcome.

Mets 9, D-backs 0

"Quickly it was three-nothing, and that is just exactly what we couldn’t have on this ball club right now," said Arroyo, who was 8-3 against the Mets coming in. "It kills the morale of a team when you are losing constantly, and especially when you are giving runs up a lot. It just grew from there.

"Terrible timing. This team needs a quality start from someone bad. You always hope to be the guy to do that, but it didn’t happen tonight."

Perhaps nothing has been more out of character than the D-backs’ starting pitching this season. The team has two quality starts — 58 pitchers have at least that many so far — and the starters’ ERA is a major league-high 7.82. Wade Miley (5.04) is the only starter with an ERA under seven this season, and all the numbers are acutely above form. None of the season-opening front four of Miley, Arroyo, Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill had a career ERA higher than four and a fraction entering the year.

"Certainly didn’t see this coming," general manager Kevin Towers said. "It’s pretty obvious our starting pitching has not been good, and it is going to have to get better for us to make a run at this thing."

During the five-game losing streak that started with a three-game sweep by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the D-backs have trailed 4-0, 5-0, 5-3, 3-2 and 9-0 through four innings. They received seven, five, four, four and 3 1-3 innings out of their starters in those games. Wednesday starter McCarthy has gone six innings three times and Miley has done it twice, but the rest of the rotation has gotten through six only once.

"That’s just not good enough to win at this level. As a whole, we just haven’t got the job done. It’s got to turn around somehow, or it’s going to be a long season," Arroyo said.

"When it is day after day, when you have five in a row like this, it is tough on a ball club, especially when you are playing at home and you are getting in the deficit of nine, 10 games under .500. It’s hard, but there is nothing else to do but come to the ball park optimistic the next day. We just don’t have any other choices."

The D-backs had only three hits, and all singles, and only Paul Goldschmidt’s hit down the line in the fourth inning got out of the infield.

"This is tough for us," center fielder A.J. Pollock said "I think everyone is going through the same thing. We are all fighting. We will try anything right now. We are trying to right this ship right now. It’s not fun. Hopefully there is something that turns it."

The D-backs will need at least 100 pitches out of starter McCarthy today, Gibson said, to help a bullpen that pitched 5 2-3 scoreless innings and struck out nine Tuesday. Relievers have thrown 18 2-3 innings in four days since the last time McCarthy worked against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.

"If you compare this to last year, it was the relievers were giving it up, and this year it is just the inverse. That part is very frustrating."

Randall Delgado has accepted his move to the bullpen with the maturity of a veteran. Degado has pitched 1 ⅔ scoreless innings in each of his two relief appearances, giving up one hit and striking out four. "He came to the mound with a jump in his step," Gibson said. "When we gave him the news, he was upbeat about it. He accepted it. His attitude was he will do the job as best he can, and he’s done that."

1 — innings the D-backs have led of the 45 played in the homestand

* The D-backs are not hitting when they need it most, going 6-for-34 with runners in scoring position on the homestand. They were 0-for-4 Tuesday, when they got only one runner past second.

* Mets outfielder Kirk Nieuwenheis had a nice return to the majors. He landed at Sky Harbor Airport at 11:30 am after being summoned to replace injured Juan Lagares and had three hits, including a fourth-inning home run, and three RBIs. "It’s just good to get some of the firsts out of the way," he said. "I don’t care how many times you come up and down, you still get butterflies." Nieuwenheis has spent parts of the last two seasons with the Mets before his recall Tuesday.

Manager Kirk Gibson won his first challenge of the season when video replay overturned an out call against A.J. Pollock on a bang-bang play at first base on Pollock’s soft grounder to third base. First base umpire Mike DiMuro originally ruled Pollock out on the play, but video replay showed Pollock clearly beat the throw. "When you are playing, it feels like you are safe by a mile, but then when you look at the replay, it’s tough," Pollock said. "I understand how hard it is for the umpires."

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