What went wrong for the D-backs in the Philly finale
PHILADELPHIA -- The baseball season is often referred to as a marathon and not a sprint, yet one game could mean the difference between making the playoffs and watching them on television.
That delicate balance between urgency and keeping an eye on the future makes the job of a manager extremely challenging and can lead to many sleepless nights.
Take the dilemma D-backs manager Torey Lovullo faced over a 24-hour period.
Tuesday night, with his team clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth, Lovullo used his two best relievers, Andrew Chafin and Miguel Castro, to close out the win. He knew that meant the pair, along with top lefty Kyle Nelson, had pitched three out of four days and would therefore be unavailable for Wednesday.
Lovullo had pushed them far enough for this early in the season and was not about to risk their health and effectiveness for the next four-plus months by pitching them four out of five days.
The move paid off with that one-run victory Tuesday but Lovullo had to turn to others to try to close out Wednesday’s game.
It’s hard to criticize Lovullo’s decision because had he not used those relievers Tuesday night maybe the D-backs lose that game and who knows what would have happened on Wednesday.
More importantly, this game never should have been that close down the stretch for a variety of reasons, namely:
• The D-backs had a 5-0 lead through three innings and then got just one hit the rest of the day.
• Handed that lead, ace Zac Gallen was not at his best and was chased with two on in the sixth inning.
• And despite only having one hit, the D-backs drew six walks after the third inning and didn’t score any of them. They had the bases loaded with no outs in the sixth and had them loaded again with one out in the seventh and could not push across any added insurance runs.
“I mean if we want to be a really good team this is a baseball game we have to win,” Gallen said. “I don't think there's any ifs ands or buts really about it.”
The D-backs wrapped up their three-city, nine-game road trip that also included stops in Oakland and Pittsburgh with a 6-3 record, something they likely would have been thrilled with 10 days ago, but when you’re one out away from a 7-2 mark, suddenly it doesn’t feel quite as good.
“It's great to win this series, but the baseball games you’re supposed to win, you should win those baseball games,” Gallen reiterated. “I think that's the sentiment for me, just as an organization really if we want to go where we want to go, we have to win the games we’re supposed to win. Teams that have been successful the last few years, they just found a way to put games away and found a way to win baseball games. Obviously, 6-3 is great. It’s better than 3-6, but this one is tough for sure.”