The Arizona Diamondbacks have been living and dying by their bullpen this season, moreso the latter than the former as of late.
And last night's 9-6 thumping by the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field was a pretty agonizing demise.
"This will probably be one of the toughest defeats to take," stated radio play-by-play man Greg Schulte in the closing moments of Wednesday's loss, which gave S.F. the three-game sweep of the D-backs. Word.
If madness is indeed doing the exact same thing while expecting different results, then the Diamondbacks' bullpen is absolutely nucking futz.
For the third night in a row (and six out of the last 10 games), Arizona's relievers surrendered a late-inning lead to an opponent with regrettable throws. This time, however, so-called closer J.J. Putz wasn't involved.
Perhaps general manager Kevin Towers should consider shipping 'em off to the Arizona State Hospital. Better yet, a one-way ticket to Triple-A Reno, or anywhere else except for the mound at Chase Field.
Their meltdown started last night in the eighth inning. Starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy provided a middling performance, having struck out six only after giving up a lead-off homer to San Francisco's Angel Pagan in the first, as well as three RBIs in the fifth and sixth.
Cliff Pennington was in beast mode, however, compensating for McCarthy's shortcomings by crushing his first homer of the year (a monster three-run moonshot to center) against the Giants' Tim Lincecum in the second and an RBI double in the sixth. Eric Chavez and Paul Goldschmidt (notoriously good against Lincecum in recent seasons) also had RBIs in the fourth and fifth frames, respectively.
So with Arizona nursing a 6-4 lead going into the final two innings, manager Kirk Gibson sent in David Hernandez to replace middle reliever Matt Reynolds, who fanned all three batters he faced in the seventh. He probably should've stayed put.
Hernandez got Buster Posey to pop out, walked Hunter Pearce and Blanco, and struck out Nick Noonan. And then Brandon Belt flipped the script with a devastating three-run jack. The Giants had a 7-6 lead.
Heath Bell also caught the base-on-balls bug in the ninth, walking Pagan and Brandon Crawford, before Pablo Sandoval's RBI double scored the former. Posey's sacrifice fly added another run to make in 9-6.
We've been wondering what Towers was thinking as all of this was going down, especially in light of what he told New Times reporter Matt Hendley a few months back for our recent cover story on the D-Backs.
"The [NL] West is always won with arms," Towers stated. "Our fate will really depend on how well we throw the ball [and] how well our bullpen does."
Hey Kevin, any chance you'd consider sacking Putz, Hernandez, Bell, et. al to free up the cash to land free agent Brian Wilson? Think it over.
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While this tragedy was unfolding, the commenters of AZ Snakepit, SB Nation's Diamondbacks blog, had some choice words as always, like one fan who stated, "I don't drink...But if I did, this team would have given me alcohol poisoning by now."
Another Snakepit member also summed up what many in the Diamondbacks nation are feeling right now: "Five leads in the eighth or later. Five blown saves. This is insane."
Will the insanity continue when Arizona (15-13) heads out on a six-game road swing over the next week? Tune in on Friday night when they visit the San Diego Padres for a weekend series. Wade Miley (2-0, 2.37 ERA) faces Jason Marquis (2-2, 4.20). First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620 AM. More info: www.dbacks.com.