D-backs fail to sustain lead in Home Opener

The 2014 season kicked off for the Diamondbacks back in the comfy confines of Chase Field with their home opener on Monday night vs their divisional rival, the San Francisco Giants. The night started with much fanfare, as the legendary Joe G tossed out the first pitch while both Goldschmidt and Parra received their numerous awards from the 2013 campaign. But by the end of the night, the fans of the home team at Chase Field got a nasty taste that was reminiscent of last season’s pennant race with another divisional rival, the Dodgers. They started strong, but in the end relief pitching would cause them to lose a huge lead and finish just short of their goal.

Brandon McCarthy took to the hill for the Diamondbacks. McCarthy excelled this spring, going 2-0 in 4 starts with a 2.70 ERA, 12 Ks, and 6 walks. He was dominant in some starts, even though it is still ST, and earned his position to start on Opening Day at home opposite of Madison Bumgarner for the Giants. McCarthy was solid early, striking out the side in the 1st inning and continuing to keep the Giants hitters baffled in the 2nd inning as he breezed through with 6 up and 6 down. The first sign of trouble McCarthy had was in the third when a single by Crawford mixed with a sac bunt by Bumgarner and a single by Pagan generated the first score and lead of the day for San Fran, putting the Giants up 1-0.

The man who they call “MadBum” walked Aaron Hill in the 1st and then gave up a pair of singles to Trumbo and Montero in the 2nd, but Trumbo was thrown out trying to advance to third by Pence with a laser beam from centerfield. He stayed out of trouble until the fourth inning when the wheels began to fall off for him, or more accurately the Giants infield. Trumbo reached 1B on a fielding error by Brandon Belt, which is followed up by Montero getting on via a force attempt fielding error.  Then a pair of singles by Owings and Parra brought in both runners and put the D-Backs up 2-0. After a McCarthy ground out and a Pollock strike out, “Double A”Ron Hill comes up big with a base clearing two bagger that effectively ends Bumgarner’s night after he gets Goldy to ground out to end the 4th. Bumgarner’s line was 4.0 IP with 6 hits, with 4 runs but 0 earned. He walked 2 and struck out 3, throwing 78 pitches with 48 for strikes. The D-Backs up 4-1 after the 4th.

McCarthy gave up a run in the 5th, but Arizona got it back by beating up on RP Petit in the bottom of the inning. After 5 the D-Backs were up 6-2. But then something strange happened in the 6th. Even though it was a solo shot, a monster home run by Brandon Belt let the air out of the room at Chase Field. The once lively crowd went flat, even with Arizona still being up 6-3. In the bottom of the inning, Goldschmidt got some of the crowd back into it with a broken play rundown between 1B and 2B that he ended up somehow getting out of safely. It was again more on the SF infield that anything else, but I do believe that we finally saw Goldy put on a cape and fly during a game. It ended up paying off the D-Backs as Trumbo singled and brought Goldschmidt in to increase the lead to 7-3.

But the feeling of impending doom was still in the air after the Belt home run in the 6th. A single by Morse and a two out pinch hit double by Adrianza closed the door on McCarthy’s day for Arizona. The big guy went 6.2 IP, and gave up 6 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, and 4 Ks.

“Overall,  there’s one pitch I’d really like to have back on the day, and that was a terrible pitch to Belt,” added McCarthy after the game. When asked if he pitched better than what the line scored indicated, he confirmed that he thought so. “I don’t really care what it says. It’s the record, but I know how I felt, I know the type of at bats that were happening, so I take away a lot of positives with that.”

McCarthy was replaced by Oliver Perez, who was completely ineffective. He gave up a double to Pagan, scoring Adrianza, a single to Belt, and a single to Sandoval, which brought in Pagan. Brad Ziegler came in to replace Perez, and Ziegler struggled to get the final out as well. Belt loaded the bases with a single, and Ziegler walked Hunter Pence to bring in a run and tie the game at 7 all.

Professional Band-Aid, Josh Collmenter, came to pitch in the 8th and kept the Giants off the base path. The questionable call of the night comes in the top of the 9th when Gibby chose to remove Collmenter for closer Addison Reed. Reed got Pagan to line out, but he then allowed Belt to get on with a single which was followed by the biggest mistake of the night: a 2 run HR by Buster Posey. The huge shot to left field on a 1-0 pitch silenced the home crowd and put the Giants up 9-7. The D-Backs tried to comeback in the bottom half of the inning. Miguel Montero hit a solo shot for his first HR of the year, and Arizona was within 1 run. Owings got on base with a crafty bunt single, but that was as close as the Diamondbacks would get. They fall in the home opener at Chase by a score of 9-8.

“You expect to close that game down and we didn’t do it. We gave into it,” commented Gibson after the game. “Our bats have been a little tired at the end of Spring Training. We swung the bats much better, and we’re gonna take this. It stings a bit, but we’re going to have to regroup and come back tomorrow.” The loss moves the Diamondbacks to 6-5 all time in Opening Day games at Chase Field. Game 2 will see Wade Miley take the mound vs Matt Cain for the Giants.

 

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