PHOENIX -- Matt Koch has excelled in place of Taijuan Walker, who is out for the season because of Tommy John surgery. He's given the D-backs more than they could have expected. Prior to Wednesday, he'd faced Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer in consecutive starts, and held his
PHOENIX -- Matt Koch has excelled in place of Taijuan Walker, who is out for the season because of Tommy John surgery. He's given the D-backs more than they could have expected. Prior to Wednesday, he'd faced Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer in consecutive starts, and held his own in all three outings.
But in an 8-2 loss to the Brewers, the right-hander logged the worst start of his young big league career.
"I don't think anything was really working for him today," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said.
In just his eighth Major League start, Koch (2-2) allowed eight earned runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings. He walked a batter and didn't have any strikeouts. Before this start, the most earned runs he'd given up in an outing this season was three.
"I just wasn't making pitches when I needed to, and when I made good pitches, they were still in the count," Koch said. "When I made a bad one, they made it hurt."
That was evident as the Brewers tagged Koch for a season-high four homers. Travis Shaw and Domingo Santana went back to back in the first inning to give Milwaukee a 3-0 lead. In the second inning, Christian Yelich blasted a two-run home run, and Tyler Saladino led off the fourth with a solo homer off the batter's eye in center field.
Koch, who is 27 years old and still inexperienced as a big leaguer -- he's made 15 appearances since 2016 -- markets himself as a pitcher who goes for weak contact and lets the defense work behind him.
"When you give up four homers, the defense can't really help you on those," Koch said.
The Brewers led, 6-2, when Koch exited the game. Milwaukee added two runs in the fifth that were also credited to Koch.
Meanwhile, the D-backs' only runs came on a Daniel Descalso two-run home run in the first inning. The team had four hits. Lovullo called Wednesday's loss "a dud" and "a little bit of a clunker."
Koch said he's the type of player who will be able to flush a bad performance like this. But he's not the only D-back who will need to do so. Arizona has now lost seven of eight. The club is headed on a three-city road trip that includes New York (Mets), Milwaukee and Oakland.
For the D-backs, breaking out of the funk is a matter of when, not if.
"It's no secret that we're struggling," Descalso said. "There's no sense in shying away from it. Maybe we need to talk about it more, maybe there's some things we can say to help out a teammate or something. But we're going to figure it out. It's not like we're going to be like this for the rest of the season."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The D-backs were only down 5-2 in the third inning when Jarrod Dyson drew a one-out walk and stole second base with two outs. They could have cut into the lead, but Paul Goldschmidt flied out to end the inning. It followed a recent trend; the D-backs have struggled to string together hits and put runs on the board.
The Brewers' Brandon Woodruff took the mound on Wednesday, marking the end of a unique streak for Koch. In his three starts prior to Wednesday, Koch went up against Kershaw, Verlander and Scherzer. He became the first starting pitcher to face three different Cy Young Award winners in a row. When he dueled with Kershaw and Verlander, he became the first pitcher to go against different MVP winners in consecutive starts since the White Sox's Ed Lopat in 1947.
HE SAID IT
"We'll be all right. We've got a group of guys in here, veterans, that have been through this before. No one's panicking. We're going to be OK."-- Koch
"Offensively, we just can't get clicking. There's no mystery to it. I'm not going to sugarcoat it." -- Lovullo
The D-backs have an off-day on Thursday before beginning a three-game series in New York against the Mets on Friday. Zack Godley (4-2, 4.08 ERA) will toe the rubber opposite Jacob deGrom (3-0, 1.83), who threw a 45-pitch scoreless first inning before being pulled in his first game back from a disabled list stint (hyperextended right elbow). The series opener at Citi Field will begin at 7:10 p.m. ET.
Justin Toscano is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix.