D-backs get shut out, then lose Pollock to broken hand
McCarthy breezes through three innings before running into trouble
PHOENIX -- The D-backs lost 5-0 to the Reds at Chase Field on Saturday night, but they suffered an even bigger loss before the game was over.
Center fielder A.J. Pollock, who leads the team in batting average, on-base percentage, on-base-plus-slugging percentage and stolen bases, suffered a fractured right hand after being hit by pitch from Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto.
"That's a big blow," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He was playing great, emerging. He's been huge for us."
Said starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy: "It's heartbreaking to watch for a guy who's playing that well and really coming into his own now and becoming the player that he's supposed to be."
Pollock was the hottest player in the D-backs' lineup, which will now have to move on without him for the time being. Even with Pollock, the D-backs were barely able to put together a rally against Cueto on Saturday.
The Reds' right-handed ace has been dominant throughout the season -- he is tied for the Major League lead with a 1.68 ERA -- and he continued that trend against the D-backs.
Cueto shut down the D-backs' offense, surrendering only five hits in 7 1/3 innings while striking out seven. His command was superb for most of the game -- he walked one batter, hit Pollock and threw 71 of his 106 pitches for strikes.
"Just watching him pitch, it's really comforting playing behind him," Reds third baseman Todd Frazier said. "He throws all different types of pitches. You saw at the end of the game, maybe he got a little tired. But when he gets tired, he throws soft stuff. I'd be frustrated as a hitter because you're thinking if you're up five, he's going throw me a fastball."
The D-backs had few chances to score against Cueto, and when they did get opportunities, they could not capitalize.
Their last and best chance came the same inning Pollock suffered his injury. Eric Chavez drew a walk, Pollock was hit by a pitch and replaced by Nick Evans and Gerardo Parra hit an infield single to load the bases.
Down by five, the D-backs were in prime position to cut into the lead, but Paul Goldschmidt cut and missed at strike three from Jonathan Broxton, who had come in to replace Cueto.
With two outs, Miguel Montero popped up to shortstop to end the inning.
"We had our safety value there with [closer Aroldis] Chapman up ready to go had Goldschmidt got on," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He just answered the bell. He did a great job. He faced two of their most productive hitters in Goldschmidt and Montero and did a terrific job. These guys aren't easy to get out, especially in situations with guys on base."
The D-backs didn't have the same luck with McCarthy (1-7). He has had the same problem multiple times this season -- big innings. Several times, McCarthy has faced a lineup once and been successful before struggling the second time through. That was the case Saturday.
After three scoreless innings, McCarthy hit a wall, giving up three runs. He managed to settle down against the bottom of the Reds lineup and get out of the inning.
But he ran into trouble again in the fifth, giving up a single to the speedy Billy Hamilton, who promptly stole second and came around to score on a single by Skip Schumaker. After Brandon Phillips hit an RBI double, Gibson removed McCarthy from the game.
"I don't know what happened," McCarthy said. "That's kind of where it's been. A few quality innings, and then things turn, and I don't have any understanding why.
"When I go back and look at [the pitches] there's little spots where they're at. They're not horrible pitches -- it just keeps happening and keeps happening. There's something there I'm missing, and it's [ticking] me off to no end, but I don't have the answers for it right now."