'Big knock' eludes pesky D-backs
PHOENIX -- The D-backs hoped a change in hitting coaches might spark an offensive outburst, but some of their familiar issues still plagued them Friday night as they fell to the Angels, 6-5, in 10 innings.
The loss was the eighth straight for the D-backs, who have lost 22 of 24 and 31 of 36.
Hitting coach Darnell Coles and assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske were dismissed Thursday and replaced by run production coordinator Drew Hedman and Triple-A Reno hitting coach Rick Short, who will serve as co-hitting coaches the rest of the season.
Though the D-backs managed to plate five runs, three of them were aided by the Angels, with one coming on a balk by Shohei Ohtani, another on a dropped third strike and another on an error at home plate by Kurt Suzuki.
One of the biggest offensive issues for Arizona this year has been hitting with runners in scoring position. It was a problem again on Friday as it went 1-for-17 in those situations, leaving 11 on base.
"I think we did a good job of building some innings and having some opportunities to score some runs, and we just couldn't get that big knock," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "I know there was a lot of traffic out there [on the bases] today."
The D-backs did provide some excitement late as Eduardo Escobar smacked a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game when the D-backs were down to their final strike.
"It was a great moment for Eduardo to hit that home run to tie the game with two outs in the ninth inning," Lovullo said. "It's what everybody dreams about."
Lovullo suffered through a somewhat embarrassing moment in the 10th when he went to the mound to remove left-hander Ryan Buchter from the game.
Buchter left the field and Riley Smith came on from the bullpen. After Smith threw a couple of warm-up tosses, Angels manager Joe Maddon called over home-plate umpire Greg Gibson to point out that Buchter had faced just two hitters (José Iglesias and Taylor Ward), not the minimum three that a reliever is required to face.
The umpires then huddled and informed Lovullo that Buchter had to retake the mound and Smith had to go back to the bullpen. Buchter then hit Suzuki before Smith again entered the game.
Each extra inning starts with a runner on second base and Lovullo apparently had used that runner (Jared Walsh) in his equation.
"I know the rule and I made a mistake," Lovullo said. "So, I own that and wear that and that's on me. I've got to be better and I've got to be on top of that. You know, you see that runner out there and you start to add up the runners and I know the rule, I know that that runner at second base to start the inning does not count as a hitter. But for some reason, I was allowing myself to count it that way."