D-backs relish return to action vs. LA rivals

July 20th, 2020

For the first time since early March, the D-backs faced a team that was wearing a different color uniform, and that -- more than the fact that they lost 9-2 to the Dodgers -- was the biggest takeaway from Sunday night.

“I think it was just nice to get onto a field that’s not ours,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “It was nice to get competitive and get those juices flowing again, knowing that right around the corner it’s going to be for real.”

The D-backs boarded their charter aircraft in Phoenix on Sunday afternoon for their first road trip of the season and a look at a familiar foe.

They dressed in two different clubhouses and practiced social distancing in the dugout, something that was easier when they were playing intrasquad games and had the team split between two different ones.

Lovullo said he found himself reminding the coaches at times not to get too close.

“It was a little bit of a challenge from time to time,” he said. “There are some new normal. It’s very awkward, especially when there’s a lot of guys you have to be very mindful of being too close when you’re having conversations. Then there’s times where you have to really shout through the mask to get your point across or emphasize statements. It’s getting more normal.”

The lack of fans also took a little time to get used to.

“We were playing against another team and it was competition that we all know and love,” Lovullo said. “And I looked out and thought, ‘This is unbelievable.’ But I don’t want to lie to you guys and say it was exactly the same. This place obviously gets bumping. They were minus over 50,000 fans, so you didn’t feel that vibe and heartbeat that goes along with playing games in this stadium. It was just raw baseball and I loved it.”

The game started off well for Arizona, which got a solo homer from the second batter of the game, , but it went downhill from there.

Right-hander Taylor Widener, who is battling for a spot in the bullpen, started for the D-backs and the Dodgers roughed him up in the first inning.

Widener walked the first two batters he faced, gave up an infield single and then Cody Bellinger smacked a grand slam.

Overall, Widener allowed six runs on five hits over four innings.

“The velo was there, the shape of his pitches was there, but it just wasn’t consistent,” Lovullo said. “I think that the repeatability aspect of it for a young pitcher is something they continue to learn day by day.”

The game may not have counted in the standings, but it still seemed to matter to the players on the field.

“Any time you lose to anybody it’s no fun, but especially these guys,” shortstop Nick Ahmed said. “They’re a division rival and you never want to lose to them. We’re going to come back out and punch them back tomorrow.”