PHOENIX -- Kris Medlen has had two Tommy John surgeries. Before Friday, he hadn't made a big league start since 2016. Yet when he stood at his locker after his team's 8-0 loss to the Astros on Friday, he took no silver lining from a poor start.
Medlen (0-1) allowed seven runs on nine hits over four innings. He never established any sort of rhythm against a lethal Astros lineup.
"I'm sure there was a little bit of anxiety knowing what he's walked through to get back on a big league mound," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said after the game.
Medlen acknowledged that this week's callup was emotional. But for him to take that to the mound would have been, as he put it, "unprofessional."
The righty said he just didn't execute.
"[It's] just on me," Medlen said. "I need to do a better job of keeping us in the game. No matter how good the other team is, if you execute, you're going to put yourself in a better spot. I didn't do that."
The Astros' George Springer smacked the second pitch of the game for a single and scored on a Jose Altuve double. Two batters later, Yuli Gurriel laced an RBI single.
In the second inning, Carlos Correa hit a two-run double that fell on the right-field line. The D-backs challenged the ruling, but a review determined the call would stand. It was 4-0, Astros.
Medlen was eventually undone by a three-run fourth inning that saw eight Astros come to the plate. He finished having thrown 101 pitches, 57 of them for strikes.
Medlen said he thought the Astros would be more aggressive early in at-bats against him. Instead, they waited. Medlen walked four, and even when he got outs, he had to work hard for them.
"I was going with faster pitches earlier in the count and they didn't offer at them," he said. "I found myself behind, and when you've got a team like that, they're going to make you pay."
When Medlen exited, the D-backs trailed 7-0, an insurmountable deficit against the Astros' Gerrit Cole, who threw a complete game, allowing just one hit and striking out a career-high 16.
Lovullo said the D-backs will survey their options to piece together Robbie Ray's (oblique strain) spot in the rotation. Matt Koch, who stepped into a void left by Taijuan Walker (Tommy John surgery), currently holds a 2.37 ERA over three starts.
Medlen knows what he accomplished to get here. He also knows that starts like this one can't happen.
"At the end of the day, I'm sure I'm proud of myself about the work I put in to get here," Medlen said. "But, you know, I'm here. I need to produce and contribute, especially on a team that has a chance to do some special things this year."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
T.J. McFarland had just taken over for Medlen to begin the fifth inning. The first batter he faced, Jake Marisnick, hammered a ball to right field. It looked like a home run, but Jarrod Dyson leaped and robbed it.
DESCALSO ON TO PITCH
The D-backs needed someone to earn the final two outs of the ninth inning, so who got the nod? You guessed it -- Daniel Descalso, who started the game at third base. With a man on base, he got Marisnick to fly out and then struck out Cole.
Descalso, who pitched twice last August, became the first D-backs position player to record a strikeout since Jeff Cirillo in 2007. Friday marked the eighth time a position player has taken the mound in D-backs history.
"He bailed us out," Lovullo said of Descalso. "We told ourselves that T.J. would be between 55 and 65 pitches and he probably could have given us another batter and we were debating whether or not to send him back out for that last inning. I alerted everybody this could possibly happen, Daniel assured me he could go out and throw strikes and execute."
HE SAID IT
"I felt like he wasn't playing fair and cheating today because he didn't let us touch the ball." -- Lovullo, jokingly, when asked about Cole
"I say that very lightheartedly. He was not cheating. Just to put that on record." -- Lovullo, moments after, when a reporter mentioned the incident where Trevor Bauer hinted the Astros pitchers were cheating
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the fourth inning, Correa hit a double that fell right on the right-field line. Two runs scored. The D-backs challenged the ruling, but after a short review, the call would stand.
Zack Greinke (3-2, 4.50 ERA) will take the mound in Game 2 of the three-game series Saturday at 5:10 p.m. MST. Last time out, Greinke allowed just two runs and picked up a win against the Dodgers. The D-backs will face Astros right-hander Charlie Morton, who fanned 10 over 7 2/3 innings of one-run baseball against the Yankees in his last start. Morton (4-0) holds a 1.72 ERA this season.