NEW YORK -- The D-backs need to start finding answers on offense before they find themselves out of the Wild Card race. They could do hardly anything against right-hander Zack Wheeler and lost to the Mets, 3-2, at Citi Field on Tuesday night.
The loss leaves Arizona still 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs for the final National League Wild Card spot after Chicago fell, 9-8, to the Padres in 10 innings. The Brewers (one back) and Phillies (two back) are ahead of of the D-backs.
In its previous two games, Arizona collected a combined six hits. On Tuesday, the D-backs put runners on base, but they went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Arizona got off to a fast start against Wheeler by scoring one run in the first inning, thanks to an RBI single by Eduardo Escobar. But Wheeler held them in check the next six innings.
“[After the first inning], Wheeler started throwing better, locating better. All credit to him for what he did best,” Ketel Marte said through interpreter Martin Bater.
Arizona had a chance to at least tie the score in the eighth and ninth innings against the Mets’ shaky bullpen. Escobar hit a solo homer off left-hander Justin Wilson to make it a one-run game. Then Arizona had a runner on second and had a chance to tie the score at 3, but Adam Jones grounded out to shortstop Amed Rosario to end the threat.
Wilson was still on the mound an inning later when Arizona had runners on first and third with one out. Marte slashed a grounder to first baseman Pete Alonso, who quickly touched the bag for the second out of the inning, but Alonso also had the chance to tag pinch-runner Tim Locastro, who was only a couple of inches away, to end the game.
But Alonso threw to third base in an attempt to double off Nick Ahmed, to no avail. Before anyone knew it, Locastro made his way to second base.
"Younger guy, you don't really know what he's going to do,” Mets third baseman Todd Frazier said about Alonso. “He kind of spazzed out there a little bit. I was actually hoping that he did throw to me because the runner was way down, and once he did look over to me the runner came scampering back. … I wish he would have tagged the guy first and then stepped on first. I think we had a double play there, but your mind goes a mile a minute in those kinds of situations."
That brought Wilmer Flores to the plate. Flores is known for his ninth-inning heroics at Citi Field when he was with the Mets, but he struck out to end the game.
“It was probably the same thing that was going through everybody else’s mind: It’s our time and we are going to [at least tie the game],” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “We did grind it down and had guys in the right positions. We didn’t execute at the most crucial time that inning. That’s what happens sometimes.
“As we always do, we have to find a way to digest this and understand why it happened and be ready to play tomorrow. There is nothing we can do today that’s going to allow us to win a baseball game tomorrow.”
Right-hander Zac Gallen did all he could to keep the D-backs in the game. He pitched six solid innings, allowing three runs on five hits and striking out nine batters. Gallen’s problem was Frazier, who drove in all three runs.
“This is the crunch-time part of the year,” Lovullo said. “Their guy got up there at the right time and drove in all three runs in the right situation. We unfortunately didn’t get the big hit in the same type of situation.”