NEW YORK – If the D-backs expect to make noise this October, they’re going to have to do better against top-flight pitchers like Jacob deGrom.
That didn’t happen Monday night at Citi Field. deGrom overpowered the D-backs, who collected three hits against the Mets ace and lost to New York, 3-1. The loss put Arizona two games behind the Cubs for the final National League Wild Card spot, pending the result of Chicago’s late-night game against the Padres.
Should Arizona be concerned about the lack of offense? It marked the second straight game in which the D-backs collected just three hits. For manager Torey Lovullo, it’s not time to press the panic button.
“These guys have been doing a great job and sometimes it ebbs and flows,” Lovullo said about his players. “… We want to make sure we follow the process and we are prepared and ready. I know these guys will be ready tomorrow.”
Arizona had a tough time hitting the baseball against deGrom, who pitched down in the zone most of the game. How bad was it for the D-backs? Six of the first 10 hitters deGrom faced struck out. Arizona didn’t do anything against the right-hander until the fifth inning, when Wilmer Flores led off the inning with his eighth home run of the season against his former team.
“[deGrom] is a tough pitcher. I got in a hitter’s count and I got the pitch I wanted. I was able to hit it,” said Flores, who winked at deGrom as Mets fans gave him a standing ovation before his first at-bat.
Arizona ended up striking out 11 times against deGrom and 15 times overall, including a golden sombrero for NL MVP candidate Ketel Marte.
“[deGrom] has stuff and command. When a pitcher has those two things, it’s going to be tough,” Flores said. “You know it’s going to be a battle, and he won the battle today.”
D-backs right-hander Merrill Kelly turned in a quality start, lasting six innings and allowing three runs on seven hits. The problem was Pete Alonso, who hit two solo homers against the right-hander.
“He has 40 -- how many homers? -- for a reason. He is a pretty good hitter,” Kelly said. “I thought those two pitches were decent. I think they probably -- if I’m nitpicking -- could have been a little bit more on the edge.”
The ironic part is that the opposing team’s top slugger put a hurtin’ on the D-backs for two straight days. On Sunday, third baseman Eugenio Suarez also slugged two bombs in a victory for the Reds.
“We know Alonso is a down-ball hitter. We just made some mistakes in the wrong area at the wrong time and he took advantage of it,” Lovullo said. “Funny, the last two days, it was Suarez, who has 40-plus home runs. He beats us with a couple of home runs.
“Today, Alonso did it. Sometimes, you have to bite the bullet when you make pitches that are not perfect. When you are in a tough game like we were yesterday and today -- it’s those margins that we are talking about that are the difference-makers. Today, we fell on the wrong side of it.”