With the game on the line, you clearly want your All-Stars to effect the outcome.
The Diamondbacks unmistakably had that opportunity Wednesday night, and failed miserably.
Down by two with the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Diamondbacks had Paul Goldschmidt and A. J. Pollock, their two All-Star representatives, facing Miami Marlins’ closer A. J. Ramos.
Not flinching, Ramos went right after Goldschmidt and Pollock in succession. Struck out both, and then fanned Yasmany Tomas to end this affair. The result was difficult to acknowledge, and provided Miami with a 5-3 win before 15,857, the smallest crowd in Chase Field this season.
The loss was also a series victory for the Marlins, and the Diamondbacks proceeded to drop their third series in succession.
In going right after Goldschmidt, Ramos clearly revealed his strategy.
“I was not giving him any fast balls because he was crushing 96 mile-per-hour pitches earlier in the game,” said Ramos. “Besides, I didn’t have a 96 mile-per-hour fast ball in the tank. Didn’t have it in the bullpen, and the fast ball was my fourth best pitch.”
Starting Goldschmidt with a slider, which froze the Arizona first baseman, Ramos proceeded with a steady diet of breaking pitches to fan both Goldschmidt and Pollock.
“I’m not afraid of anyone, and went right after (Goldschmidt),” Ramos added. “Pollock, too. Sliders and he went after those down and away. With Goldschmidt, I think he didn’t know what was coming, and I wanted to set him up with breaking stuff.”
The wasted ninth inning reflected a dreadful eighth inning.
Down by those two, Goldschmidt lead off the eighth with a single and Pollock laced a single between third baseman Martin Prado and the bag, and into the left field corner. When the throw came into third, Pollock took second.
Second and third, no outs.
Tomas then grounded to third and Goldschmidt was cut down at the plate. Later in the inning, the Diamondbacks loaded the bases with two outs, but Oscar Hernandez struck out for the fourth time in the game and threated ended.
Then, the ninth and disastrous results.
“I would have (Goldschmid and Pollock) up in that situation any day of the week,” said manager Chip Hale. “Tip your cap to Ramos, he did his job.”
If this one ended dramatically for Arizona, the start was equally disturbing.
Left-hander Robbie Ray started strong, but proved he was not capable of being uniform, even and dependable. As quickly as Ray came out of the gate superbly, the pattern of inconsistency followed the lefty like a nightmare.
After zipping through the Marlins first three hitters on 13 pitches, Ray retired the side in order.
Quickly, the wheels quickly fell off of Ray’s wagon. The Marlins tagged the lefty for three extra-bases hits in the second, and Ray continued to his demise by walking Michael Morse in that frame. By the end of the inning, the Marlins were off to a quick three run lead.
Ray lasted only into the fifth inning, and by the time he departed, the lefty allowed five hits, five runs, four earned and tossed 100 pitches.
The inconsistency for Ray was more an aberration than a pattern.
Perhaps the Diamondbacks most reliable pitcher, Ray entered the game with a strong 2.29 ERA, but now has one victory in his last six starts.
“Not my best,” was Ray’s response to his night’s work. “Felt great in the bullpen and felt great in the first inning. From there, not sure what happened. Nothing I can point out. Maybe I was lacking some concentration, but not sure what was the difference between the first and second innings.”
The Diamondbacks managed to get to Fernandez with a pair in the fourth and moved within one at 3-2. Here, Ray fell apart again in the next inning.
In the process, the Marlins picked up two more, and the key hit was a triple from left-hitting Ichiro Suzuki, sandwiched between an error from Arizona third baseman Jake Lamb and a RBI single from Martin Prado.
“The pitch which Suzuki hit was a big mistake,” Hale pointed out. “It was an off-speed pitch which Ray did not locate very well. I thought that was the key batter in the game,”
LAST MINUTE LINE-UP CHANGE AND EJECTONS
Prior to Wednesday’s game, catcher Welington Castillo was scratched for precautionary measures with tightness in his left hamstring.
Oscar Hernandez was inserted to catch lefty Robbie Ray, and batted eight in manager Chip Hale’s lineup.
During the sixth inning, Marlins’ starter Jose Fernandez hit David Peralta in the batting helmet, and forced the Arizona outfielder from the game. As manager Chip Hale rushed from the dugout to Peralta’s assistance, coach Turner Ward continued to yell from the dugout. That didn’t take long for plate umpire Vic Carapazza to turn and toss Ward from the game.
In the Marlins’ half of the seventh, Diamondbacks’ reliever Dominic Leone hit Christian Yelich in the back with a pitch, and was unceremoniously tossed by Carapazza.
Afterward, Peralta, who is great friends with Fernandez, showed no effects of getting hit squarely in the batting helmet.
“It was a scary moment,” Peralta said. “I saw the ball coming right to my face and tried to protect myself. I came in the clubhose, saw the doctor, all the tests came out okay, and I’m ready to go. No, (Fernandez) didn’t hit me on purpose.”
With starter Chase Anderson on the disabled list, the Diamondbacks reached down into Double-AA Mobile for his replacement in the rotation.
For the past few days, Hale said the decision to replace Anderson would be an organization conclusion, and candidates ranged from those on the 25-man roster as well as options in the minors.
In the end, the Diamondbacks settled on right-hander Zach Godley, acquired in the last off-season from the Chicago Cubs as part of the Miguel Montero deal.
Combined with Advanced-A Visalia and Mobile, Godley was 9-4 in 15 starts. That includes a 2.72 ERA and opponents were hitting .231 against the native of Bamberg, S. S.
“We considered many options and Godley epitomizes what we want out of a pitcher,” Hale said. “He’s has a very competitive personality, and good stuff. That’s why he’s coming.”
AN ADDITIONAL PICK NEXT JUNE
Major League Baseball conducted a Competitive Balance Lottery on Wednesday.
When this draft is conducted next June, the Diamondbacks will pick fourth in the selection.
The Competitive Balance Lottery, which was agreed upon as a part of the 2012-2016 Basic Agreement between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, gives clubs with the lowest revenues and in the smallest markets the opportunity to obtain additional draft picks through a lottery. The 10 franchises with the lowest revenues and the 10 clubs in the smallest markets were entered into a lottery for the six selections immediately following the first round of the Draft.
The six clubs which drew for Round A, in order of selection, were Cincinnati, Oakland, Colorado, the Diamondbacks, Miami and Pittsburgh.