PHOENIX — Mention batting orders, and Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo goes to the creative possibilities. An “A Beautiful Mind”-type rush of combinations and permutations.
“Lineup construction is something that never ends in my head,” Lovullo said Wednesday. “It’s like a bunch of numbers floating around every single day.”
His recent lineup changes seemed to help Arizona recover its firepower while winning two of three in a home series against Cincinnati that concluded Wednesday, and the Diamondbacks will look to build on that with a three-game set against Miami Marlins that begins Friday.
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The Diamondbacks scored 21 runs against the Reds, including a season-high 12 in the first game of the series, although they failed to hold a four-run lead in a 7-4 loss in the third game. They had only 34 runs while going 2-15 in their previous 17 games, tied for the second-worst stretch in franchise history.
Miami has lost five of six and 16 of its 23 after losing three of four in a series at San Diego that concluded with an 8-3 loss on Thursday night. The Marlins are 16 games below .500 for the first time this season.
Arizona right-hander Clay Buchholz will make his third start since being promoted from the minor leagues to face Miami rookie right-hander Elieser Hernandez in the opener.
Goldschmidt has hit second in his last four starts after hitting cleanup after A.J. Pollock fractured his left thumb in mid-May. Daniel Descalso (twice) and John Ryan Murphy batted cleanup against the Reds, and Lovullo said after Wednesday’s game that Murphy would get more time after hitting homers in four of his last five starts.
“I want to do the right thing for a team that is not performing up to their standards,” Lovullo said. “I don’t want to do things that drastically change their mindset or confuse them, but I want to do what I possibly can to construct the lineup that is going to create opportunities.
“It’s up to me to be creative to do all that I can to trend things a different way. I’m not big on making wholesale changes, but I have to subtly do some different things to hopefully get the offense moving in a good direction.”
The D-backs were 10-0-2 in the first first 12 series, but the Cincinnati series was their first series win in the last six.
Goldschmidt homered down the right field line Wednesday.
“It can’t hurt us, the way we were playing the last couple of weeks,” Goldschmidt said. “It doesn’t really matter. By the time you get in the box, you are not thinking I’m hitting fourth or second.”
Miami enters the Arizona series with questions at closer.
Right-hander Brad Ziegler, who had some of his best years in Arizona, has converted nine of 10 save opportunities but has a 7.83 ERA and suffered his first blown save in a 3-2 walkoff loss at San Diego on Wednesday, although the winning run scored on aa throwing error.
Kyle Barraclough and Drew Steckenrider are options, manager Don Mattingly said. Each pitched a scoreless inning Wednesday, and none of the trio pitched in an 8-3 loss Thursday.
“I’ve never had a stretch like this really,” Ziegler, an 11-year veteran, told reporters. “It’s frustrating for sure.”
Ziegler had a career-high 30 saves as Arizona’s closer in 2015, and had 18 with the Diamondbacks in 2016 before being traded to Boston in July.
Buchholz (0-1, 1.64 ERA) has given up one run and two hits in each of his two starts since being recalled from Triple-A Reno but has received only one run support in the two games. He went five five innings and threw 61 pitches and went six innings and threw 81 pitches in his most recent outing, a 3-0 loss at Oakland on Saturday.
Buchholz will be making his first career start at Chase Field after spending 10 of his previous 11 seasons in the American League. He is 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts against the Marlins, both while with the Red Sox in 2012.
Hernandez (0-2, 2.50), a 23-year-old, will be making his fourth start and sixth appearance of the season. Like Buchholz, he has pitched effectively in shorter outings. He has gone five innings in each of his first three starts while giving up one, one and two runs, but has lost his last two starts when he was given two runs of support total.
Hernandez, who was selected in the Rule 5 draft off the Houston roster last December, will be making his second appearance on the road. He gave up five hits and one run in a 2-0 loss at the New York Mets on May 21.