David Peralta ran back toward the warning track, eyes on the ball that had just come off the bat of Kevin Newman, and the D-backs' left fielder completed the catch -- but not without crashing face first into a yellow panel of the PNC Park left-center-field wall.
Peralta bounced off the padding, crashed to the ground and held on to the ball. He even had the wherewithal to flip it to center fielder Daulton Varsho, knowing the Pirates had a runner on first base who could have tried to tag up and advance.
Arizona may have lost, 4-2, to Pittsburgh to fall to a National League-worst 42-85 on Tuesday night, but not without maximum effort from its players. And that was showcased on plays such as the defensive gem from Peralta.
“David is a gamer, he’s a team player, he made a great play,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “And I just think all of our guys are doing that. I think they’re totally committed. I think they prepare the best that they can to go out there and make those types of plays. And their effort is always what I’m looking for.”
The effort has been there, but the results still haven’t been -- even after Arizona seemed to be on the upswing after a 6-1 homestand last week against San Diego and Philadelphia.
Since going back on the road, the D-backs have dropped four of five games. They lost two of three to the Rockies at Coors Field over the weekend, and they’ve now dropped the first two to the Pirates, ensuring a second straight series loss.
“This is a really tough time for us,” Lovullo said. “Look, right now as I sit here in front of you guys, my frustration is at an all-time high.”
That’s saying something, considering Arizona went a combined 8-48 during May and June. But a difficult season doesn’t get easier just because the losses aren’t piling up quite as fast.
“It’s a very similar feeling that I’m experiencing,” Lovullo said. “It’s just frustration because I know this team is fighting every day to win baseball games. When you have those expectations and you come up short, I hurt for these guys. I hurt for these players.”
But those D-backs players are also showing they’re still trying to win, even in games that have no impact on postseason races, like this three-game series against the 46-80 Bucs.
Not only did Peralta make a sensational catch for the first out of the fourth, but he displayed max effort again on the next pitch. Anthony Alford hit a deep drive to left, and Peralta tried to chase it down, scaling the wall and leaning into the first row of seats. However, it resulted in the second home run allowed by Arizona starter Madison Bumgarner, giving Pittsburgh a 4-0 lead.
Peralta’s hustle wasn’t lost on Bumgarner, though, especially on the wall-crashing grab.
“I definitely appreciate that,” Bumgarner said. “That was a big play, and it probably ended up saving another run or two, so I appreciate him doing that.”
Since coming off the injured list on July 16, Bumgarner had a 1.93 ERA over seven starts and hadn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any of those outings. On Tuesday, he gave up six hits and walked three in six innings, with three of the four runs he allowed coming on a pair of homers.
Arizona’s pair of runs came on Ketel Marte’s pinch-hit homer in the eighth. It was the lone hit in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position for the D-backs, who left eight on base.
The D-backs are now playing sound defense, Bumgarner is pitching well (better than Tuesday’s line may indicate) and Marte is swinging a hot bat. Those are positives, but they’re still not leading to the desired results.
“I do have certain expectations, and I think they’re met in different ways at different times, but you’re judged by winning baseball games. And unfortunately, we’re not,” Lovullo said. “So yeah, I felt like after we left Arizona that we were poised and ready to come on the road and do some damage, and we haven’t.
“I’m always going to be frustrated when we lose baseball games. And I’ll never accept losing, and I don’t think this team does either. We’ve got to regroup the troops, cycle through this frustration that I think we’re all experiencing right now and be ready to rock tomorrow.”