Arizona Diamondbacks usually strong defense falters, offense held to one hit

Matt Koch turned in six strong innings in a no-decision Friday night. (Norm Hall / Getty Images)
Matt Koch turned in six strong innings in a no-decision Friday night. (Norm Hall / Getty Images) /

The usual strong defense of the Arizona Diamondbacks collapsed at a critical time, while the bats went quiet into the night.

By nature, the Arizona Diamondbacks tend to be a conservative organization. For that reason alone, there is no further commitment to Matt Koch as a rotation replacement for Taijuan Walker. Not for now, but attitudes and direction could change.

The way Koch showed command and strong mount presence in his first start of the season Friday night in Chase Field, the prospect would be considerably heightened that he remains among the starters. Following Koch’s strong outing, manager Torey Lovullo told Call to the Pen after the Diamondbacks fell 4-1 to the San Diego Padres before 24,902 that Koch is worthy of another look.

"“We’ll talk about Koch right after I meet with you guys,” Lovullo said in his post-game media session. “If I had a vote for another look, I would say ‘yes.’ (Koch) attacked the zone and did everything he could. It was time to turn the game over to the bullpen.”"

In six solid innings for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Matt Koch made fans and pundits alike forgot about Walker, who is now lost for the season to Tommy John surgery. Instead, Matt Koch delivered the kind of game a manager could only envision. For his effort, he allowed but five base runners over his six innings. Of these, two came on walks, and another reached on an error.

The only mistake was a two-out, fourth inning homer from centerfielder Frenchy Cordero. Given the fact that Cordero in his last game Wednesday night against the Dodgers went 0-for-5 and struck out four times, the homer seemed particularly distressing.

As soon as Matt Koch delivered, he sensed doom and hung his head. Still, he managed to recover and retire seven of the final eight hitters he faced. On the home run, Matt Koch described the pitch to Call to the Pen, “it was a cutter that didn’t cut.”

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For most of the night, Koch battled San Diego starter Tyson Ross, who held the Diamondbacks hitless until two out in the eighth. That’s when Christian Walker doubled in Devin Marrero to tie this one at 1-1.

The rally ended when Padres’ closer Brad Hand then struck out Jarrod Dyson with runners on first and second with two outs.

Two strong dimensions of the team represented the catalyst for this defeat.

First, closer Brad Boxberger, who recorded six saves coming into the game, allowed three straight singles to open the ninth and quickly exited. Then, the reliable defense committed two costly errors in the Padres three-run, ninth inning.

Appearing in his third straight game, Boxberger told Call to the Pen he felt strong, and the three singles in the ninth were not particularly hard hit. Plus, the defense, he pointed out, was an aberration.

"“I hope (play of the defense) is uncharacteristic,” he said. “No, I had no issue with going three days in a row. I made some good pitches, but it was the way they were hitting the ball.”"

Lovullo continues to cite defense for one of the pillars of success, and that was not evident at crunch time. After Boxberger allowed those three consecutive singles, a sacrifice bunt and errors by the sure-handed Nick Ahmed at shortstop and reliever Jorge De La Rosa allowed two more critical runs to cross the plate.

"“That’s unusual baseball for us,” Lovullo told Call to the Pen after the game. “That’s not the type of team we are. Ross was good, but we didn’t get the job done.”"

More on the no-hitter …

The combined one-hitter by Tyson Ross and Brad Hand was the 29th one-hitter in San Diego history. In their history, the Padres have gone 7,835 games without a no-hitter, and remain the only team in the majors without a no-hitter.

Next: Intangibles of trust and confidence guide Lovullo

The weekend set continues …

The middle game of this three-game series is slated for Saturday. That’s when Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Godley (2-1, 3.00 ERA) takes on San Diego Padres lefty Clayton Richard (1-1, 5.73). In the homestand and series finale Sunday afternoon, Patrick Corbin looks for his fourth straight win (3-0, 1.65) and matches up with lefty Joey Lucchesi (2-0, 1.66).