BY: ED COLE
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The good news from Monday night’s game between the Diamondbacks and Rockies: Arizona snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak.
The bad news: The Diamondbacks got their runs when they were behind. Arizona was 0-9 coming into the game with Colorado when trailing after eight innings.
Make that 0-10 now, after their 5-4 loss to the Rockies in the opener of their three-game set at Chase Field.
Arizona continued its struggles on their current homestand. They’ve lost five of their first six so far.
Starting pitcher Chase Anderson was worked over pretty hard by the fourth-best hitting team in the Major Leagues. He threw 30 pitches in the first inning alone – 13 of those pitches went to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who’d eventually walk. First baseman Justin Morneau would follow up that marathon at bat by ripping a three-run home run, giving Colorado a 3-0 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Pile that rough first inning on top of the fact that Anderson’s competition – pitcher Tyler Matzek – allowed two or fewer runs in nine consecutive starts, and you immediately had the makings of another loss, unless the Diamondbacks’ hitters were able to get to Matzek, and Anderson and his bullpen were able to shut Colorado’s scoring valve off.
Arizona was able to chip away at Matzek and his relief, but a ninth-inning rally fell short when right fielder Mark Trumbo grounded out to third baseman Nolan Arenado to end the game.
From manager Chip Hale’s perch in Arizona’s dugout, he saw Anderson struggle with his pitch placement, which undoubtedly led to him getting peppered in the opening half inning.
“Up in the zone. It seems to be a broken record,” Hale said. “We struggle [when] we’re up in the zone, and we don’t control balls and strikes, and when you get behind those hitters, they’re too good. You’re gonna have to have No. 1 starter stuff to get behind and be able to get those guys out. They’re just too good.”
Anderson says he lost his “composure” a bit after the at bat by Tulowitzki, which may have affected the way he dealt with Morneau.
“Maybe a little bit, not too much, maybe a little bit,” Anderson said. “My confidence was down a little bit. I gotta be better than that for sure.”
Anderson gave up four runs in the first two innings. After his rocky start, Anderson could feel his confidence come back after pitching coach Mike Harkey paid him a visit at the mound.
“It kind of boosted my confidence back up where it needs to be, and I felt like I made pitches in the middle innings and kept us right there,” Anderson said.
Anderson pitched 5.1 innings in the loss; he gave up eight hits, five runs [all earned], two walks, four strikeouts and the home run to Morneau.
The Diamondbacks had plenty of chances to score runs; they just didn’t take advantage of it. They went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.
“That’s the way it’s been going. We have not been swinging the bat well period, especially with men in scoring position,” Hale said. “I thought we battled tonight, battled back. We got down early, and the guys kept playing like we asked them to and I was proud of them.”
“It’s not horseshoes or hand grenades is it? It doesn’t count to get close,” Hale said.
This isn’t a good stretch right now for Arizona. They’re coming off a sweep at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates at Chase Field, their bats aren’t working and they’ve lost four in a row.
Trumbo says it’s time for the team to get off the ground, dust itself off and get ready for Game 2 on Tuesday night.
“You can do it, but you don’t want to fall into those ruts,” Trumbo said. “It’s time to win ballgames. There might be a bigger picture plan or whatever, but we’re the ones fighting and it feels much better to go out there and win.”