Arizona Diamondbacks miss opportunities in 10-inning loss to Phillies

PHILADELPHIA — The way Diamondbacks right-hander Zac Gallen saw it, there was no room for interpretation. His team had an early lead and he was on the mound. His team wound up losing. It was, in his mind, unacceptable.

“I mean, if we want to be a really good team, this is a baseball game we have to win,” Gallen said after the Diamondbacks dropped a 6-5, 10-inning heartbreaker to the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday afternoon. “I don’t think there’s any ifs, ands or buts about it. We have to win this baseball game. It’s frustrating, for sure.”

There were ways to excuse what happened. There were also ways to gloss over what was a crushing loss in a game the Diamondbacks led by two runs with two outs in the ninth.

A reasonable excuse might be that the Diamondbacks were trying to win a game without their three most-trusted relievers, all of whom were unavailable due to their recent workloads.

A way to sugarcoat the defeat might be to point out that the Diamondbacks still won a series against the reigning National League champs, their third series victory in three stops on a coast-to-coast, 10-day road trip. They return home having gone 6-3, no small feat for even the best of teams.

But Gallen did not want to hear it. Speaking in the typically quiet, hushed tones he adopts after losses, he plainly made the case that winnable games need to be won.

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zac Gallen (23) throws a pitch during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on May 24, 2023.
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zac Gallen (23) throws a pitch during the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on May 24, 2023.

“Teams that have been successful the last few years, they’ve just found a way to put games away and found a way to win baseball games, really,” Gallen said. “Obviously, 6-3 is great. It’s better than 3-6. But this one is tough, for sure.”

The Diamondbacks certainly had their chances to win. After Emmanuel Rivera laced a two-run double into the gap in left-center and Evan Longoria followed two batters later with a two-run homer, the Diamondbacks had a comfortable, 5-0 lead with their ace on the mound.

That was the score when Gallen took the mound to start the sixth, his pitch count approaching 80. He was not able to complete the inning, and by the time reliever Kevin Ginkel did so, the Phillies had cut the lead to 5-3.

“As a starter, I’ve got to go deeper in the game and slam the door there in the sixth inning,” said Gallen, who finished with two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Gallen was not the only culpable party in the loss. The Diamondbacks’ offense collected just one hit over the final seven innings. Despite that, they loaded the bases in both the sixth and seventh innings and failed to score each time.

The sixth inning represented the biggest missed opportunity: The inning began with three consecutive walks, but the Diamondbacks made three consecutive outs without a run.

Manager Torey Lovullo said he could have handled the inning better, though he declined to get into specifics. Any of the inning’s final three hitters — Nick Ahmed (strikeout), Dominic Fletcher (strikeout) and Jose Herrera (ground out) — could have been replaced with better matchups off the bench, namely Geraldo Perdomo, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. or Gabriel Moreno, respectively.

Still, the lead remained 5-3 into the ninth, when reliever Jose Ruiz quickly recorded the inning’s first two outs. Thrust into closing duties with relievers Andrew Chafin, Miguel Castro and Kyle Nelson unavailable, Ruiz had only Bryson Stott standing between him and a series sweep for the Diamondbacks.

With a 2-2 count, Ruiz left a curveball over the plate that Stott grounded through the middle for a single. Trea Turner then followed by blasting the first pitch he saw, another curveball, this one up in the zone, out to left field for a stunning, two-run homer.

“We sold out yesterday for that win,” Lovullo said, referring to his decision to use his top relievers on Tuesday night. “You’ve got to live and die with some of those decisions. Today it didn’t work out.”

The Diamondbacks did not score in the top of the 10th, stranding their automatic runner, Rivera, at second where he started the inning. The Phillies had no such trouble. They loaded the bases with nobody out on a pair of walks, one of which was intentional, before Alek Bohm hit a first-pitch fastball over the drawn-in outfield for the walkoff single.

Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Ketel Marte (4) hits a single during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on May 24, 2023.
Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Ketel Marte (4) hits a single during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on May 24, 2023.

Gallen described his outing as a “grinder,” but he also saw it as a step in the right direction coming off arguably the worst start of his career. He was not his typically dominant self, but he did manage to move past his struggles last week in Pittsburgh. Either way, it will not be a day he remembers fondly, not after the way the game ended.

“There’s just things that really good teams do that tend to be successful,” Gallen said. “When you’ve got a team down, you’ve got to put them away.”

D-Backs manager Torey Lovullo trying to monitor reliever workloads

With three of their top relievers having pitched in three of the past four days, the Diamondbacks entered Wednesday afternoon’s finale against the Philadelphia Phillies with questions about who might be available out of the bullpen.

It has been a continuing theme for manager Torey Lovullo in his pregame sessions with reporters: He does not want to push his relievers too far, but he also wants to win games. And with the Diamondbacks playing a lot of close games — and winning a lot of them recently — it has meant going to his most trusted relievers on a regular basis.

“It’s the hardest part of my job and the fans don’t quite understand it,” Lovullo said. “I want to win every baseball game possible, but I’m not going to put anybody at risk of injury. I have to think about tomorrow sometimes. I have to think about next week and next month, as well.”

He did not come out and say it, likely not wanting to telegraph to the Phillies who is unavailable, but it stands to reason that Lovullo will try to stay away from left-handers Andrew Chafin and Kyle Nelson as well as right-hander Miguel Castro. All three pitched in each of the first two games of this series. They also each threw on Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Lovullo said he still regrets the injury left-hander Caleb Smith suffered at the end of last year, pointing the finger at himself for using Smith more than he should have.

“He insisted that he was always ready and I kind of listened to him when I shouldn’t have,” Lovullo said. “I know he got hurt at the end of last year. So I kind of wear that one every single day.”

Outfielder Kyle Lewis begins rehab assignment

Diamondbacks outfielder Kyle Lewis, who has not played since April 7 due to an undisclosed illness, began a minor league rehab assignment on Tuesday night in Triple-A Reno.

In six at-bats as the designated hitter, Lewis recorded a pair of hits, including a three-run home run.

“It’s about building up endurance and just getting the reps,” Lovullo said. “He spent 30 days getting ready for a baseball season in spring training. We’ve got to be mindful of where he was two weeks ago and take it by the week. We’ve got to be smart about pushing it forward.”

Lovullo said Lewis might start in the outfield on Wednesday night.

Wednesday's Diamondbacks-Phillies pitching matchup

Diamondbacks RHP Zac Gallen (6-2, 2.95) vs. Phillies LHP Ranger Suarez (0-1, 10.50).

Gallen is coming off one of the worst outings of his major league career last week in Pittsburgh, where he gave up eight runs (five earned) in 3 2/3 innings. Seven of those runs came in the fourth, the most runs he has allowed in an inning in his career. … It snapped what had been an overwhelming dominant stretch in which he posted a 1.16 ERA over his previous seven starts. … Gallen struggled against the Phillies in Philadelphia last season, giving up six runs (four earned) in 1 2/3 innings. That was the shortest outing of his career. … Suarez missed the start of the year due to an elbow issue. He has made two starts since coming back from the injured list, not posting particularly good results in either of them. … Suarez averages about 93 mph with his fastball. He also throws a change-up, curveball and cutter. He has yet to allow a hit on his curveball this year, getting whiffs 45.5 percent of the time.

Tuesday game recap: Diamondbacks down Phillies for fourth straight win

Coming up

Thursday: Off.

Friday: At Chase Field, 6:40 p.m., Diamondbacks RHP Zach Davies (0-0, 5.79) vs. Red Sox LHP Chris Sale (4-2, 5.01).

Saturday: At Chase Field, 4:15 p.m., Diamondbacks RHP Brandon Pfaadt (0-1, 7.56) vs. Red Sox RHP Garrett Whitlock (1-2, 6.19).

Sunday: At Chase Field, 1:10 p.m., Diamondbacks RHP Merrill Kelly (5-3, 2.98) vs. Red Sox RHP Corey Kluber (2-6, 6.26).

MLB power rankings: Are the Diamondbacks a contender?

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Trea Turner homer leads Phillies comeback victory over Diamondbacks