'Little things' add up in 12-inning loss to A's

May 17th, 2023

OAKLAND -- The D-backs' first extra-inning tilt of 2023 simultaneously provided glimpses of promise and tough-luck lessons to carry through the remainder of the season. Just ask .

After the 33-year-old righty escaped a pair of high-leverage situations -- juiced bases with one out in the 10th inning and runners on second and third with two outs in the 11th -- skipper Torey Lovullo planned to lift McGough when the bottom of the 12th rolled around.

But McGough, who set career highs with 49 pitches over 2 1/3 frames, wanted another inning.

"He said, 'No, I've got one more for us. I'm going to carry us through this moment,'" Lovullo said. "Those are the things that good teammates do. … They dig down deep and give you their absolute best effort."

As it turned out, the third time was not the charm for Arizona. The A's again loaded the bases against McGough, and Esteury Ruiz hit a walk-off infield single in the 12th to send the D-backs to a 9-8 loss, evening the three-game set at one apiece and ending the D-backs' four-game win streak.

Though Arizona's offense had cruised for much of the evening, the bats went cold late in the game. The D-backs did not record a knock after the eighth inning and went 5-for-20 with runners in scoring position on the evening, leaving 14 on base.

It was the first time Arizona took the loss while racking up at least 15 hits since May 30, 2019, when the club notched 16 knocks but fell, 11-10, in Colorado.

"I'd like to see guys be a little more patient," Lovullo said. "Let the ball get deeper in the zone, make some attempts to hit the ball to the opposite field. I think [Christian] Walker did; I know Ketel [Marte] tried to bunt.

"We just didn't execute. That's the name of the game. It's the bottom line. We just didn't do it."

Arizona's roller coaster of an evening began when Walker launched a two-run homer, his 10th of the season, in the first inning. The A's chipped away from there, eventually going ahead, 3-2, before the D-backs snatched the lead back with an explosive four-run fifth inning that was capped by 's two-run shot.

Leading 8-4 after getting a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh, Arizona looked well-positioned to hold on for what would have been its fifth straight win. But that's when things began to unravel.

, pitching in relief of , quickly retired the first two batters he saw in the bottom-half of the frame before allowing back-to-back singles to Brent Rooker and Aledmys Díaz. Ginkel then got Carlos Pérez to hit a grounder to third baseman , who could not come up with it cleanly, leaving everybody safe.

"You've got to be creative with your hands and your feet and try to make the play, and unfortunately, he couldn't get it done," Lovullo said of Longoria, who struck out four times to go with the fielding error. "It was one of those in-between, tricky hops. He's done it at a very high level for a long time, but I'm sure he's going to continue to learn and grow and get better. If there was a play he could make, he'll find a way to make it next time."

And then, on one swing, Arizona's hard-fought lead was erased when Oakland first baseman Ryan Noda took deep for his first career grand slam. In an almost cruel twist of fate, it would have been a home run in every ballpark but one: Chase Field.

As one of the early surprising teams of 2023, the D-backs have made a statement through the first quarter of the season. They've begun to reap the benefits of their youth movement, showing an ability to hang with potential contenders.

A lot of that growth from previous years has come from executing the fundamentals well -- and that's not what they exhibited at the Coliseum on Tuesday evening.

"We pride ourselves on doing a lot of little things right," Lovullo said. "We don't have bad games that just kind of roll over inning after inning after inning. … It shows up more times than not in a very positive way, and when it doesn't look good and we have something like this [game], it stands out. We all know what we've got to get to, because we have a standard we play by here."