'He's going to be fine': Confidence remains in Díaz

May 14th, 2024

PHOENIX -- This was supposed to be a season where the Reds challenged for the postseason, but that goal seems to be drifting further from reach.

Especially on nights like Monday's 6-5 walk-off loss to the D-backs, with wins being painfully rare of late, they desperately needed their closer to lock down a save.

Instead, hit the leadoff batter and walked two others to load the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning. That set up Kevin Newman to hit a two-run single to right field that sent Cincinnati to its 11th loss in the last 12 games and 14th of the previous 17.

"I just didn't attack the zone and you see what the results happen when I don't attack the zone," Díaz said via translator Jorge Merlos.

A 2023 All-Star closer, Díaz converted his first 22 save chances last season and 37 overall. Monday was only his second blown save in nine opportunities, but he also has a 6.75 ERA in 16 appearances.

In 14 2/3 innings, Díaz has allowed 12 walks and has hit three batters.

"I don't think I'm any different from last year," Díaz said. "I was attacking the zone last year very well. This year, there are pitches that have been going wide a little bit, but I'm still trying to attack the zone as best as possible. Those things are going to change very soon."

In an interesting coincidence, Díaz's brother Edwin also let a ninth-inning lead slip away for the Mets against the Phillies on Monday night, marking the first time a pair of brothers each blew a save on the same day since saves became an official stat in 1969, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Meanwhile, the Reds are a season-high seven games under .500 at 17-24. Earlier in the day, they learned that center fielder TJ Friedl had to return to the injured list with a fractured left thumb. And that came only six games after he returned from a broken right wrist.

It was a night when Reds pitching issued eight walks overall and made some baserunning gaffes, including Elly De La Cruz being overaggressive in trying to stretch a routine single into a double in the seventh inning.

But the Reds, who trailed 4-3 after seven innings, still had a chance to notch a hard-fought come-from-behind win in a game where the struggling offense put together 10 hits. They scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning, including one on Mike Ford's first career triple.

All that was left was for Díaz to close it out. He didn't.

"I don't think it's hard," Díaz said of not getting the job done when it was needed most. "You have to come back to the ballpark every day and give it all your best and make sure you're consistent with how you go out there and pitch. We're in a little bit of a rut, but I know that this team is good enough that we'll be back out of that rut and we'll be able to compete again and win these games."

Asked multiple times, manager David Bell repeatedly expressed confidence in Díaz.

"Every night is different. Every season is different," Bell said. "You're constantly making adjustments. I think Alexis has done a nice job of continuing to pitch with what he has. We've seen excellent stuff. He's not going to have great command or his best stuff every night. He's gotten it done on those nights, a lot. He's going to be fine."