Davies hangs tough before bats wake up late

D-backs right-hander goes 5 2/3 strong IP; Rivera logs clutch double in return to KC

August 24th, 2022

KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Zach Davies is becoming a model of consistency for the D-backs. Start after start, the ERA is inching down and the confidence is going up.

Once again, Davies gave his team a chance to win and Arizona did just that on Tuesday night, erupting in the later innings for a 7-3 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Over 5 2/3 innings, Davies allowed just two hits. He left in a 1-1 game and watched from afar as the D-backs finally took the lead in the seventh on Jake McCarthy’s sacrifice fly. Arizona put the pedal down with three runs in the eighth and two in the ninth to give its bullpen ample margin for error.

"I felt like my command was a little bit off and I got behind some guys,” Davies said. “But I was able to get back into the counts. I got some contact right at guys and used my defense. I felt like when I needed to make a pitch, I could.”

Davies had gone five innings in his previous three starts with pitch counts of 80, 82 and 82. He was at 84 pitches with one on and two outs in the sixth, when manager Torey Lovullo went to All-Star lefty Joe Mantiply.

“In another place or time, I probably would have given him one more batter,” Lovullo said. “We’re trying to adhere to a pitch count and we want to make sure he’s safe to move beyond that pitch count.”

The victory in the opener of a five-game road trip meant it was a happy homecoming for third baseman Emmanuel Rivera. Just three weeks after being traded from the Royals to the D-backs in exchange for Luke Weaver, Rivera came through with two hits, including an RBI ground-rule double off Weaver in the ninth that provided Mark Melancon with a four-run cushion.

“A lot of beautiful memories,” Rivera said through an interpreter earlier in the day as he prepared to play at Kauffman Stadium as a visitor for the first time. “This is the organization that gave me my start.”

The one glitch from Davies -- resulting in a mammoth solo homer by Bobby Witt Jr. in the fourth -- enabled Kansas City to cling to a lead heading to the sixth. But the Royals were into their bullpen by then because starter Jonathan Heasley could only go 4 2/3 innings after experiencing illness on the mound three different times.

Once Heasley left the game, it didn’t take long for the D-backs to get busy with the bats.

“It certainly spoke volumes about his toughness,” Lovullo said of Heasley. “From our side, we felt terrible about what was going on.”

Regardless of who was on the mound for the Royals, Lovullo noticed a different D-backs offense late in the game compared to the early going.

“I think we were patient,” Lovullo said. “We got into some counts where we could do some things with the baseball. The first several innings, we were just giving away at-bats. We weren’t locked in the way we were later in the game.”