PHOENIX -- If you were looking for a summary of what has happened to the D-backs over their five-game losing streak, look no further than the top of the eighth inning of Friday night’s 5-4 loss to the Mets.
Reliever Matt Andriese easily retired the first two batters of the inning.
And then it all fell apart.
Todd Frazier blooped a single to center and Adeiny Hechavarria hit a soft single to right to put runners on the corners.
“I felt great,” Andriese said. “All my stuff was working. I was out there competing, pitching in the eighth inning with a one-run lead. I was out there commanding the strike zone, throwing where I wanted, made a good two-strike pitch to Frazier and he flipped it off the end of the bat. Made a good 0-0 pitch to Hechavarria and jammed him to right field. It was just one of those days.”
And it was about to get a whole lot more frustrating.
Pinch-hitter J.D. Davis then came up to the plate, with the D-backs shifted to the left side of the infield against the right-handed hitter, hit a chopper back up the middle. It looked like second baseman Marte was in position to make the play behind the bag at second.
But instinct took over and Andriese reached up for the ball, tipping it with his glove. That slowed it up and redirected to where Marte couldn’t make a play, Davis was safe at first and the game was tied.
“That was a tough break,” Andriese said after he watched the replay postgame.
Carlos Gomez then pinch-hit and hit a grounder down the left-field line. Because home-plate umpire Jim Wolf had left the game in the second inning after being hit by a foul tip, the umpires were working a three-man rotation.
And with runners at first and second, there was not an umpire on the line at third to make the call on Gomez’s ball. Instead, that fell to Manny Gonzalez, who had taken over behind the plate for Wolf.
Gomez singled fair and after one of the D-backs’ Golden Glovers, who are tasked with picking up foul balls, touched it, it was ruled a double and one run -- what proved to be the game-winner -- scored.
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo asked the umpires to use video replay to review the call, but that play is not reviewable.
“Not that kind of play,” crew chief Sam Holbrook said. “And the reason was because the ball hit the ground before it passed the bag. So that makes it non-reviewable, no matter what.”
Lovullo did not blame the umpires and neither did catcher Alex Avila, who had the best angle on the play. But both would like to see the rules changed so that it is a reviewable call, especially with just three umpires on the field.
“I thought it was foul,” Avila said. “It hit fair for sure, about half in the infield it hit fair, and then it had so much spin on it that I thought it was foul by a couple of feet from the bag. Now, the thing is that’s not an easy call for the home-plate umpire because he’s coming out and moving. So it’s not like he’s standing still over the line, he’s moving. So it’s an extremely difficult call for the home-plate umpire. That’s why the umpire at third makes that call.”
Regardless, the D-backs are now left to grapple with how to pull themselves out of a losing streak in which four of the five games were decided by one run.
“We’ve been struggling to get a win and those are the types of innings that happen,” Avila said of the eighth. "So we have to just keep playing hard and eventually, those things will happen for us. You just try to stop the bleeding and somebody gets the big hit and it all turns.”