Punchless Diamondbacks hope to awaken bats vs. Padres
TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona went impotent on an important trip that came to a dreadful end Sunday, when Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp beat the Diamondbacks’ for the second straight game to flip the NL West standings.
The Dodgers overtook the Diamondbacks for first place in the division by winning the final three games of a four-game series, capping Arizona’s punchless 2-5 trip, and Colorado moved into second place by one-half game.
The Diamondbacks scored only 12 runs in the seven games and had a 20-inning scoreless drought in San Francisco. They hit five homers against the Dodgers but otherwise had trouble stringing hits together as they enter a two-game series against San Diego that begins Monday at Chase Field.
Arizona right-hander Zack Godley (14-7) is to oppose right-hander Bryan Mitchell (0-3) in the first game of the series.
“It ebbs and flows at different times,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said of the offensive skid.
“There are things that I would see improve. Everybody has the same discussion, and that’s hitting with men in scoring position and just being patient. There are times we don’t stay patient and remember the pressure is on the pitcher at all times. He has to execute and we are waiting for him to execute.
“Some pitches are thrown to be hit and some pitches are not, and we have to remember that.”
The Diamondbacks are ninth in the NL in runs scored after finishing in the top five in each of the previous seven seasons.
Kemp hit a three-run homer off Archie Bradley in the eighth inning for a 3-2 victory Saturday, and he doubled in two runs on Bradley’s first pitch in the ninth inning for a 3-2 walkoff victory Sunday.
“I’m a little upset right now,” Bradley told reporters, adding, “to our fans, don’t panic. It’s only one loss.”
Arizona has scored more than three runs once in its last 10 games, failing to back its stellar starting pitching, and it may not get any easier.
Following the San Diego series, the D-backs are to play 20 straight games against teams that are over .500 and seem certain to stay that way. They finish this homestand with a four-game series against Atlanta before seven-game road trip to Colorado and Houston.
Daniel Descalso’s homer in the top of the ninth Sunday gave Arizona a 2-1 lead.
“This loss stings a bit because we clawed our way back and took the lead,” Descalso told reporters. “There have been a lot of low-scoring games and that’s the way it is when it’s high stress and you’re in a pennant race. You’re not going to blow out too many teams.”
San Diego won four of six games on its homestand last week, sweeping two games from Seattle and winning the first two games of a four-game set against Colorado over the weekend.
Outfielder Hunter Renfroe hit two homers Saturday and has four homers and 10 RBIs in his last seven games while riding a career-high 10-game hitting streak. He has 19 homers, one behind Christian Villanueva for the team lead, despite spending six weeks in the minors earlier in the season.
“In high school, college, the minor leagues you’re the dude,” Renfroe told the San Diego Union Tribune.
“You’re hitting fourth, you’re supposed to drive in runs, you’re supposed to lead your team and do the best you can. I think that’s kind of coming into fruition right now where I’m just doing the best I can and stuff is kind of falling for me, happening for me.”
Godley, who has a 4.42 ERA, has won five of his last six decisions and has lost only once since July 1. He gave up two hits and one run in 7 2/3 innings in his most recent outing, a 3-1 victory at San Francisco last Wednesday.
He has faced the Padres four times this season, once in relief in a 16-inning game July 8, and is 2-0 with a 4.67 ERA against them, with 24 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. He gave up six runs in five innings in a no-decision in his most recent start, Aug. 18 at San Diego. He is 3-3 with a 5.23 ERA in 13 career appearances against San Diego.
Mitchell, who has a 7.08 ERA, is to make his 13th appearance of the season, his eighth start. He has not pitched since a relief outing June 5, when he gave up five runs in 2 2/3 innings. He was reinstated from the disabled list last Saturday after missing tie with a right elbow impingement.
He has never faced the Diamondbacks.
“We’re still in discovery mode as far as what guys are going to be with us going forward,” San Diego manager Andy Green told the paper.
“He’s got an opportunity to get back to the point where he is a part of our future. He’s going to have to pitch his way there. Nothing is going to be handed to him. We’re definitely going to give him the ball and the opportunity.”