If the Diamondbacks are looking for some sort of anchor to their marginal rotation, the answer might have been found Monday night. Plucking veteran right-hander Jhoulys Chacin from the minors, there appeared more to his ascend to the majors than plugging the dyke with a few fingers.
With a usually reliable bullpen and an offensive now known for scoring runs at the most opportune times, the Diamondbacks appear in a position to solidify themselves for the stretch run. This surge could include Chacin, who clearly did not embarrass himself in his Arizona debut Monday night.
Lasting into the seventh inning, Chacin pitched effectively, but received little offensive help. The end result was the Diamondbacks dropping a 5-3 decision to the St. Louis Cardinals before a spare crowd of 19,892 in Chase Field. The loss snapped the Diamondbacks modest four-game winning streak, and shoved Arizona back to 5.5 games behind the leading Los Angeles Dodgers for top spot in the National League West Division.
While Chacin held up his part of the bargain, the bullpen, usually effective, could not hold the Cardinals. Making first start in the majors since June 28 of last year with Colorado, Chacin said he was happy to pitch again at the big league level and grateful to the Diamondbacks for giving him this chance. Though he admitted the organization said nothing about his future at the major league level beyond his Monday start, Chacin’s effort would likely earn at least another look.
“I thought I made some good pitches and kept my team in the game,” he said afterward. “(The Cardinals) are a tough team but I also make some mistakes. Sure, I had some butterflies, but I like challenges. Facing the best team in baseball was certainly a challenge.”
After scoring a three-spot in the seventh to take the lead, the St. Louis bullpen of Jonathon Broxton, Kevin Siegrist, and closer Trevor Rosenthal, who recorded his 39th save, secured the victory.
For Arizona, the bullpen could not support Chacin’s strong effort. First, reliever Andrew Chafin faced only one batter coming in directly behind Chacin and walked Matt Carpenter. The St. Louis third baseman came round to score an important run on a two-run single from catcher Yadier Molina.
The run allowed by Chafin in the seventh snapped a string of 19 straight scoreless appearances for the left-hander. Later, Daniel Hudson, who leads the Diamondbacks in holds, gave up the single to Molina, and that pushed St. Louis into a three-run advantage in the seventh.
Yet, Chacin pitched well enough to command praise. In lasting 6.1 innings, the right-hander allowed six hits, three runs, two earned and threw 96 pitches.
“(Chacin) pitched well, and deserved a better fate,” said manager Chip Hale. “Thought he did a great job. Worked the ball well and kept us in the game.”
Staked to a 1-0 lead by virtue of Welington Castillo’s 15th home run for Arizona, Chacin pitched out a couple of jams, and remained competitive. After Carpenter’s 19th bomb of the season with one-out in the third tied the game at 1-1, Chacin pitched out of runners on first and second and no outs in the fifth with two strike outs and then retired Carpenter on a fly to center. Later in the sixth, he surrendered an unearned run, but left in the seventh trailing, 3-2.
Clearly, the Diamondbacks had their chances. In all, Arizona rapped into three double plays and the most critical transpired in the fifth. With the bases loaded, one out and the score tied at 1-1, Paul Goldschmidt, whose dreadful slump continues, grounded into an inning-ending twin-killing.
“No, that one was not going through,” said Goldschmidt. “The ball was hit right at (shortstop Jhonny Peralta). I have to find a way to get the runs in, and get the momentum.”
Later, the Diamondbacks had an opportunity to climb back into contention. In the seventh, Arizona again loaded the sacks with two outs and this time, Castillo flied to right to end that threat.
For the game, the Diamondbacks left 11 on base. That did not include three other potential baserunners wiped out by the double plays. The game ended with Yasmany Tomas at the plate and the tying run on first. Here, Rosenthal ended this one with 100 mile-per-hour fast ball that blew Tomas away.
“We had our chances,” lamented Hale. “Defensively, we made mistakes and had a few mental errors. That’s uncharacteristic of how we play. Look, you can’t be perfect every night. To be a strong, competitive team, we can’t lose games like this one.”
MORE OF THE RED BIRDS
The series continues on Tuesday night. That’s when the Diamondbacks’ Robbie Ray (3-9, 3.38 ERA), who was pushed back a day, takes on lefty Jaime Garcia (5-4, 1.79). The start time is the usual 6:40 p.m. for Diamondbacks weekly night games. The Monday game started at 7:10 to accommodate national television.