D-Backs’ relief pitching stumbles in extra innings

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Despite some early struggles this season, the Arizona Diamondbacks came into Tuesday’s Social Media Night game against Los Angeles five games back in the standings behind the first place Dodgers. A sweep at home would leave this overachieving team only three games back as they rounded the final turn towards the All-Star break.

Rubby De La Rosa on the mound for Arizona has pitched efficiently over his last three starts, allowing just two earned runs during his last 22 innings pitched. He faced off against Carlos Frias for the Dodgers.

De La Rosa gave up two runs through 5 2/3 inning pitched. He walked one and struck out seven, with his only mistake being a two run HR yielded to Yasmani Grandal in the top of the 2nd. His current ERA over his last four starts dating back to June 14th is a stingy 1.30.

In hindsight, looking at De La Rosa’s numbers would leave many to question why he was removed from the game so early. The Diamondbacks were up 3-2 when he walked Andre Ethier with Grandal, who already had one HR earlier in the game, coming up to bat. Chip Hale, not wanting to experience in-game deja vu from the 2nd inning, made the tough call to go to the pen with Rubby’s pitch count already at 97.

His ability to change speeds was key to De La Rosa’s success against this tough Dodgers lineup. As you see below, he did an excellent job at keeping batters off balance with a mix of pitches that ranged from 82 to 98 MPH.

speed2

The downside to this being that his pitch count and subsequent early exit gave the bullpen another long night, which included an extra inning.

The D-Backs got offense from Jake Lamb being on base often. He scored on a sac fly by Chris Owings in the bottom of the 2nd, and then again on a big fly by Nick Ahmed in the bottom of the 4th that put Arizona up 3-2. Lamb is currently sporting a .355 OBP.

The bullpen calls for Hale started well, with Oliver Perez coming in for De La Rosa in the 6th and striking out Grandal. But then in the 7th, another seemingly unnecessary bullpen change brought Enrique Burgos in for Perez.

Burgos walked the dangerous Jimmy Rollins, who was hitting .210 coming into Tuesday’s game, struck out Scott Van Slyke, and gave up a pair of singles to Joc Pederson and Howie Kendrick that tied the game at 3 all.

From there, the combination of Delgado, Hudson, and Ziegler kept the Dodgers off the board until the game went into extra innings. David Hernandez, who has struggled with his command since returning from his Tommy John surgery, immediately gave up a HR to Kendrick on a 1-0 count to kick off the 10th and give Los Angeles the lead.

Hernandez was inconsistent at best going forward. He struck out Justin Turner, walked Adrian Gonzalez, gave up a single to Puig, got Callaspo to fly out, and then relented a double to Grandal that put the Dodgers up for good by a count of 6-3.

Arizona got one back in the bottom of the inning on a RBI double by Paul Goldschmidt, who extends his current hitting streak to 11 games. However, the Dodgers win game two of this series by a final score of 6-4.

After the game, Hernandez commented on his recent control issues. “It’s just something you’ve got to get the rust off, and it’s unfortunate that you get thrown into a tight game and there’s obviously no room for error.”

The Diamondbacks look to take this crucial series Wednesday with potential staff ace Robbie Ray and his 1.98 ERA going up against Brett Anderson for Los Angeles.

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