The Arizona Diamondbacks’ starting pitching has struggled recently. Fortunately for the Diamondbacks, their bullpen has been able to pick up the slack.
The Diamondbacks close their series against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, looking for a third straight series win.
Arizona (43-32) is coming off a 7-4 win over the Orioles (32-42) on Saturday following Friday’s 7-1 loss. The Diamondbacks received just four innings from Livan Hernandez on Saturday after Brandon Webb lasted only five on Friday.
The rotation has failed to reach the sixth inning in five of their last six games, but the extra innings haven’t seemed to hurt Arizona’s bullpen, which allowed just two hits over five shutout innings Saturday.
Jose Valverde pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 27 opportunities, and set a franchise record with his 75th career save. Arizona’s relievers have thrown 12 1-3 scoreless innings the last three games.
“We like our bullpen,” said Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin. “We like it when he get to the seventh inning and can go (Tony) Pena, Brandon (Lyon) and Valverde.”
The win was the sixth in the last eight games for Arizona, which is percentage points behind the San Diego Padres for first place in the NL West. That stretch of games includes a three-game sweep by Diamondbacks at Baltimore from June 15-17.
Arizona, which is 7-7 in interleague play, outscored the Orioles 21-11 over the three-game series.
The Diamondbacks will try finish interleague play with a winning record for the first time since 2003 behind Doug Davis (4-8, 4.26 ERA). Davis has struggled recently, though, going 0-2 with an 11.08 ERA in his last three starts.
The left-hander hasn’t lasted more than five innings in any of those games, and is coming off his shortest outing of the season. Davis lasted just four innings on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, allowing seven runs and nine hits, but he escaped without a decision after Arizona rallied to win in 10 innings. He also lasted four innings on June 8 in a loss against the Boston Red Sox.
“He didn’t have good command,” Melvin said. “When he threw the ball over the plate, he got hit.”
Davis, whose slump has coincided with pitching against AL teams, is 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in four starts and one relief appearance against Baltimore. He last faced the Orioles in 2003 while with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Orioles counter with Steve Trachsel (5-5, 4.24), who has dealt with his own struggles in recent weeks. Trachsel is 1-2 with a 6.97 ERA in four starts in June. He struggled on Tuesday against the San Diego Padres, giving up two homers and five runs overall in 4 2-3 innings of a 12-6 loss.
Three of the runs came in the second inning.
“I really couldn’t feel the grip,” Trachsel told the Orioles’ official Web site of his breaking ball. “I got a little behind. … After that, I felt fine. The hits I gave up were on pretty good pitches.”
The veteran right-hander is 4-2 with a 3.44 ERA in 10 starts against the Diamondbacks.