The game on Monday night in San Diego against the Padres basically summed up the season thus far for the National League West cellar-dwellers: Yielding the big inning to the opponent and questionable managerial decision-making.
Leading 2-0 in the fifth behind a strong pitching effort by the D-Backs' Jon Garland, the righty got into some trouble against the Padres' resilient batters. Though Garland's off-speed pitches were hitting their spots in hard-to-hit locations, San Diego managed to tie the score with a walk, two singles, and two sacrifices. With a runner on third, Garland (4-6) beaned Brian Giles, then (and here comes the decision that would backfire) unintentionally-intentionally walked star slugger Adrian Gonzalez to face Kevin Kouzmanoff. Bad move, because the third baseman knocked a two-run single to right, making the score 4-2.
Arizona would answer with a run in the top of the sixth against starting pitcher Jake Peavy (6-6) because of a costly error by Kouzmanoff. But he would make up for it in the bottom of the seventh (and here comes the same decision that would backfire once again). After yet another intentional walk to Gonzalez, Kouz launched a deep drive toward center-fielder Eric Byrnes, who did his best impression of a Little League outfielder by whiffing at a potential inning-ending catch. The ball dropped for a double, plating Tony Gwynn Jr. and Gonzalez for two titanic insurance runs.
From there, Pads' relievers Greg Burke and Heath Bell, who picked up his 17th save, put AZ's offense on lockdown while locking up a series-splitting, 6-3 victory. The loss dropped the Diamondbacks to 25-33 overall while the Padres improved to 27-30.
Hey, look on the bright side. At least Arizona's bullpen didn't blow it this time.
Though the series ended in a 2-2 draw, the D-Backs' West Coast road swing -- after counting the 1-2 mark against the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier last week -- ended at 3-4 . Arguably, Arizona could have and should have earned a 5-2 record, but when things aren't going well, a team is going to lose games they are supposed to win.
Starting tonight through Thursday afternoon, the D-Backs host the San Francisco Giants for a three-game tilt. The Giants have been playing pretty well of late and are in second place with a 29-27 record and eight-and-a-half games behind the first-place Dodgers. But this is a winnable series for the D-Backs, especially if they can start rectifying their paltry 12-19 record at home at Chase Field.
Tonight's pitching match-up features Arizona's Billy Buckner (2-1, 5.24 ERA) against San Francisco's Matt Cain (7-1, 2.27 ERA). The game is scheduled for a 6:40 p.m. start. TV: FSN-AZ. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. See www.dbacks.com.