Lovullo: 'We got to believe and get it done'

D-backs squander early 5-0 lead, Rojas' pair of homers in loss to Angels

June 13th, 2021

PHOENIX -- Hope is great. Conviction is better.

That's the message manager Torey Lovullo wants to get through to his team.

On Saturday afternoon, the D-backs were oh so close to snapping their losing streak, only to watch a furious ninth-inning rally by the Angels send them to a ninth straight loss, this one by an 8-7 margin at Chase Field.

Arizona has lost 23 of 25 games and 32 of its last 37. It matches the worst 37-game stretch in franchise history, which was put together by the 2004 team that finished 51-111.

"A few things that are a little inconsistent is the ability for us to go out and make statements, and the ability for us to go out and do things with conviction," Lovullo said. "I think teams can sense when you're lacking a little bit of conviction, and you're hoping for things to come. We need to eliminate that hope. That's where we're at right now. And we got to believe and get it done. We've got to go and execute at the high level and expect to have good outcomes."

The D-backs were on the verge of getting it done.

First, they put together a five-run third inning to grab the early lead.

But starter Caleb Smith was unable to hold the Angels at bay and they scored two runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth to pull to within 5-4.

"I think we lacked the shutdown inning, which started to allow them to creep in with some scratch runs," Lovullo said. "And next, you know, we've got a ballgame."

The D-backs then pushed the advantage to 6-4 on the first of two solo homers on the day for Josh Rojas in the seventh.

Again, they could not get the shutdown inning they needed and the Angels scored a run in the eighth to cut it to 6-5.

Lovullo turned to closer Joakim Soria to open the ninth and he allowed three runs on four hits as the Angels put the game away.

In Lovullo's mind, given the way the D-backs have struggled for the better part of six weeks, opposing teams can, like sharks, smell blood in the water.

“They sense that there’s some vulnerabilities," Lovullo said. "We’ve got to stop that feeling."

Soria took the loss on June 5, when he allowed a pair of runs in one inning against the Brewers in Milwaukee, but he tossed two scoreless innings in his last two outings heading into Saturday.

The Angels were aggressive against Soria swinging at a lot of first pitches and early in counts.

"Some situations where the ball is coming out of his hand good but they were just mistakes in the middle of the zone," Lovullo said. "We know how effective he is with landing pitches in the right spot at the right time.

"Today there were some mistakes in the middle. To me they definitely had a game plan. They were hunting early count pitches and they were early count swinging. They squared up some balls that were middle-middle and I know he’s not trying to throw the baseball there."