The Arizona Diamondbacks were cruising to yet another win last night against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver when the unthinkable happened: Their bullpen fell apart late in the game.
Reliever David Hernandez gave up five runs in the eighth inning against the Rox, blowing Arizona's lead and allowing the Mile High City squad to stage an 8-3 comeback win over the D-Backs.
While Hernandez has been fairly reliable as a setup man this season, having only blown three leads for his team, the Rockies smoked the right-hander on Tuesday night. Arizona was up 3-1 and Hernandez had recorded two outs before allowing four straight hits by Colorado, including a three-run homer from Troy Tulowitzki. D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson then made a call to his bullpen.
To add insult to injury, Hernandez was ejected mere moments after being pulled from the pitcher's mound thanks to a few choice words that the reliever said to home plate umpire Todd Tichenor.
Hernandez's replacements didn't fare much better, as both gave up runs after taking the mound. Joe Patterson allowed RBIs from Seth Smith and Jordan Pacheco, and Sam Demel allowed Dexter Fowler to walk in a run after he loaded the bases by plunking Kevin Kouzmanoff.
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The good news after last night's defeat: Arizona only lost a game in the National League West pennant race, as the San Francisco Giants beat the Padres. The bad news? The D-Backs relievers aren't as solid as many had hoped.
In fact, they nearly blew the game against the Rockies on Monday afternoon, as both Zach Duke and Micah Owings permitted a combined five run in the final two innings of the 10-7 win. Thankfully, Arizona had runs to spare in that contest. Last night, they didn't. And it cost them the game.
Here's hoping that Gibson fixes whatever problems have been plaguing his bullpen recently, since they'll definitely be needed as the Diamondbacks try to finish off the Giants and lock down the NL West crown.
Arizona will wrap up their series with the Rockies during tonight's rubber game. It's also the final outing in their six-game road trip. Joe Saunders (9-12, 3.86 ERA) goes for his 10th win against Kevin Millwood (2-1, 3.34 ERA). First pitch is at 5:40 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. For more info, visit www.dbacks.com.