MILWAUKEE — His team’s current lack of production notwithstanding, Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo doesn’t think there needs to be wholesale changes to his players’ offensive preparation.
The Diamondbacks managed just three hits Monday night as they opened a three-game series at Milwaukee with a loss — their fifth in a row and 11th in their last 12 games.
“We feel very strongly about the program we have,” Lovullo said after a 4-2 loss Monday. “It worked 11 days ago. It’s just one of those unfortunate situations when we haven’t been executing offensively.
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“We’ve been talking about the mistakes we made the previous night. We’ve talked about being ready for velocity, waiting for a pitch, the techniques and habits these guys have every single day when they go out there … they work hard to perfect their swing.”
Lovullo admits that velocity has been an issue for his hitters this season, and it’s something opponents are taking advantage of.
“Velocity is beating us at times and the rest of the league is paying attention to that,” Lovullo said. “I think at times we need to do a better job of hitting the fastball.”
They didn’t do a good job of it last time they faced Jhoulys Chacin, Milwaukee’s scheduled starter for Tuesday. He held Arizona to just a run on two hits with seven strikeouts over seven innings last week in Phoenix.
“He pitched beautifully,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said after that outing.
Chacin isn’t who Brewers fans had in mind when the team went into the offseason looking to bolster its starting rotation but more than a quarter of a way into the season, the veteran right-hander has been just as good as some of the bigger-name pitchers available last winter and has out-performed several other options the Brewers were believed to have interest in.
He got off to a slow start with Milwaukee, posting a 6.59 ERA through his first two outings. He’s been on a roll ever since and takes the mound Tuesday night against the Diamondbacks having gone 3-0 with a 2.58 ERA over his previous seven starts.
Chacin’s slider has been his best pitch throughout his career and because of its ability to induce ground balls, made Chacin an attractive fit for the Brewers. It took Chacin a little while to get the pitch going this year and now that it’s finally working for him, he’s seeing results.
“He’s really doing what he’s always done, in my mind,” manager Craig Counsell said. “He just got off to a little bit of a slow start with his fastball and slider.”
Matt Koch gets the nod for Arizona. The right-hander took the loss in his last outing — also against the Brewers — surrendering eight runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings, including four home runs.
“When you give up four homers, the defense can’t really help you on those,” Koch said. “I’ve got to keep the ball down and keep the ball on the ground so they can.”
It was a blip on the radar of what has been an otherwise strong season so far for the 27-year-old, who had held opponents to three runs or fewer in each of his first five starts this season.