The Diamondbacks lost a game they felt they could have won Friday night, and for manager Torey Lovullo, it came down to execution.
The execution of getting the third out in the top of the ninth inning of a tie game. The Diamondbacks didn’t do so, the tie-breaking run scored, and Arizona lost 6-5 to the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field.
J.D. Davis had the big two-out, run-scoring hit for the Giants, right after a fielder’s choice ground ball was thrown away by Diamondbacks third baseman Sergio Alcántara for an error to extend the inning.
“This was one of those games that we’ve got to find a way to make plays and get the job done and execute. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the first inning or the ninth inning,” Lovullo said. “These things keep popping up, and we’ve got to improve. We’ve got to get better. There’s identifiable things that we’ve got to continue to teach and grind through as staff members and then the players just have to execute at a high level.”
The loss opened the final homestand of the season for the Diamondbacks, who had earlier rallied from a 5-2 deficit to draw even. It was just the second win in seven games in Phoenix for the Giants this season.
Caleb Smith (1-3) was charged with the go-ahead run after getting the first two outs of the ninth. Alcántara threw off target to second base after fielding Evan Longoria’s ground ball, and the miscue allowed Mike Yastrzemski to take third base.
Yastrzemski scored on Davis’ double to left field and Longoria was thrown out at home plate to end the inning. The Diamondbacks had the tying run on second base in the bottom of the ninth, but pinch hitter Alek Thomas grounded out to first to end the game.
“Simply, it was the runner at first base (Yastrzemski) was a good runner, and I wanted to go to second base. But when I looked at second he was getting there already, so I rushed my throw a little,” Alcántara said in Spanish. “It’s a play where they gave me an error and it feels bad. So I just keep working, keep practicing and if it comes to me again, make the play.”
Lovullo said he thought Alcántara might have rushed his throw and that his footwork didn’t look the way it normally does. Lovullo felt Alcántara should have set his feet and thrown across the diamond to get Longoria at first base.
“He’s an extremely accurate thrower. I just think he tried to make a hustle play,” Lovullo said. “To me, that’s more of a mental error than it is a fundamental error, because you can reload and make a play.”
David Villar hit a two-run homer and Brandon Crawford and Austin Wynns added solo shots for the Giants off Diamondbacks starter Tommy Henry, called up earlier Friday from Triple-A Reno.
The Diamondbacks (70-82) trailed 2-0 when Stone Garrett hit a game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning. The Giants answered with Villar’s home run with two outs in the top of the fourth.
Arizona tied it in the fifth. Emmanuel Rivera lined a double off the glove of a diving Yastrzemski in right field to drive in Garrett and Geraldo Perdomo with one out. Then Jordan Luplow slapped a sharp single to right field, allowing Rivera to score and make it 5-5.
Giants starter Carlos Rodón, vying for the National League strikeout title, allowed four runs on four hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in 4 ⅓ innings. Henry got through 4 ⅔ innings and allowed five runs on six hits, striking out six with three walks.
He’s given up six home runs in his last two major league starts.
“Sometimes that’s just the way things happen, but yeah, you never want that to be kind of the highlight of the outing,” Henry said.
The Diamondbacks’ best defensive play of the night was Luplow’s throw from shallow right field to shortstop Perdomo to force out Longoria in the fourth inning.
Luplow fielded a Davis blooper on a bounce and fired a one-hopper to Perdomo to force out Longoria just in time.
Former Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller, called up by the Giants from the minors on Thursday, pitched 2 ⅔ scoreless innings out of the bullpen with seven strikeouts, but got no reaction from Arizona fans who recalled his struggles with the Diamondbacks. Miller was 5-18 in 28 starts over three seasons with Arizona from 2016 to 2018.
“It was good to see Shelby. He’s resurfaced and he threw the ball real well. I hated the fact that he stopped us and shut us down, I thought those were the key innings of this game where we could have given ourselves a lead, but yeah, it was good to see him,” Lovullo said.
Pavin the way back
Pavin Smith is back with the Arizona Diamondbacks, almost three months since being sent down to Triple-A Reno in early July and then fracturing his right wrist days after arriving in the minors.
Smith wasn’t in Friday’s lineup against the San Francisco Giants, but he will get some playing time over the final two weeks of the season for Arizona, manager Torey Lovullo said before the game.
Smith came up as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the seventh inning and singled, his first hit in the majors since June 26.
Smith said it was a “long couple of months” rehabbing his injury and waiting to be cleared to hit. He was hurt in just his second game in Reno, and actually thought about taking his next at-bat after the injury but chose not to.
“He was sent down for what we thought was just going to be a short period of time to get his swing back, get a feel for certain parts of you know, hitting the baseball all over the ballpark and was trying to make a play and breaks his hand,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “Really, really unfortunate. But yeah, he grinded it out, persevered and got himself back in the big leagues. And that’s the bottom line. We’re all happy for Pavin.”
Smith will play some outfield in the absence of Jake McCarthy, who was placed on the bereavement list after a death in his family. He will fill a left-handed hitting role as either an outfielder or a designated hitter, and could spell Christian Walker at first base.
Lovullo indicated Smith will remain with the Diamondbacks even after McCarthy returns.
“I’m going to try to finish strong, have fun, Win some games, try not to put any sort of pressure on myself,” Smith said.
The Diamondbacks also called up left-handed pitcher Tommy Henry from Reno, and Henry started Friday’s game. Left-handed pitcher Tyler Holton was optioned to Reno after Thursday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in L.A.
Thoughts of Puerto Rico
Rivera, Friday night’s starting designated hitter for the Diamondbacks, said his family and people close to him were OK after Hurricane Fiona blew over his native Puerto Rico this week.
It’s been five years since Hurricane Maria devastated the island, which was still recovering from that natural disaster.
“Can’t really call it bad luck. It’s an act of God,” Rivera said in Spanish. “With nature you never know when these things will happen. You have no control of it. Puerto Rico is a place where there is almost always rain and storms. You just have to try to be prepared for the next one.”
Rivera said his home wasn’t damaged. Power is out all over the island, he said, but the frequent electricity blackouts there are a normality of life in Puerto Rico.
Lopez named WBC GM
Diamondbacks Spanish-language broadcaster Rodrigo Lopez, who pitched 11 seasons in the major leagues, was announced as general manager of Team Mexico for the upcoming World Baseball Classic in 2023.
Lopez has been a radio analyst since 2014 and lives in Chandler.
“I am so proud of Rodrigo as an accomplished pitcher and broadcaster for our organization, and salute the Mexico Baseball Federation for its selection of such a passionate, experienced, and knowledgeable leader,” Diamondbacks President & CEO Derrick Hall said in a statement from the team.
Lopez represented his native country as a pitcher in the 2006, 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classics. He spent the 2010 season with the Diamondbacks.
Rojas to stay in infield
Lovullo said his plan is to evaluate Josh Rojas as an infielder at season’s end, and Rojas, who wasn’t in the lineup Friday after some recent defensive struggles, will play there the rest of the season.
“Where that goes this offseason with some of our discussions. I’m not sure. He’s very dynamic. He can play the outfield. And I think he likes moving around,” Lovullo said. “I think that’s what his personality is. But Josh is a good baseball player. He’s going to need some opportunities to show us what he can do.”